I love living abroad and it’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made but every now and again I get this ‘ugh’ feeling. This frustration with the abnormalities of living abroad. I asked a few international friends what they sometimes find difficult about living abroad and we pretty much agreed on the same points. So here they are, our 5 hardest things about living abroad:
1. Being away from loved ones
It might seem pretty obvious but being away from family and friends came up quite regularly. It’s a huge sacrifice but we are lucky to be having this experience now. 10 or 20 years ago, if you wanted to speak to someone from back home, we would literally have to hang around a local pay phone and insert coins when we heard the phone beeping to indicate we only have 60 seconds left.
2. Food and local products
Sometimes I just fancy a chocolate Hobnob, a lot of the time I just want Nando’s. Ah well. When living abroad, these small familiar foods and products can make a huge difference. So we crave them all year round and then indulge once we finally visit home. I guess it could be worse.
3. Going home is expensive
For those of us who have literally moved continents, going home isn’t so easy. Some of us won’t even make it back once a year. I already touched on this on my Using Annual Leave When You Live Abroad post, but there’s also the cost to consider. Do you spend all your money and annual leave days on visiting somewhere where you grew up or do you go and see more of the world?
4. Making friends is hard
This is not your first day of uni where no one knows anyone and you spend half your time socialising. This is real life 40 hour work weeks, food shopping, cleaning and for some people, families. We aren’t all in the same boat anymore and when we aren’t working, we just want to relax. This can make meeting new people and developing new friendships pretty tough. You really have to push yourself out there, more than you may have ever done before.
5. You aren’t always yourself
Sometimes you’ll want to make a joke about something that’s just happen but you know no one around you will get it, so you keep quiet. Other times you’ll want to jump in and say something, but you can’t quite express yourself in this new language you’re learning, so you keep quiet.
All in all, the hardest things don’t forever remain so hard. We grow and adapt with time and if it was really that bad, then we probably wouldn’t still be abroad. But for times when you are experiencing the above, just know that you’re not alone and that you’ll be fine in the end.