How Moving Abroad Changes You

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 1 Minute

Moving abroad is a huge change. There’s no doubt about that.

It means ditching the so-called comfort zone. It means heading to a whole other country.

Of course, that might be somewhere near and familiar, like the US to Canada. But it could also be faraway and exotic. Lots of folk ditch the States for Europe, for example, while crowds whiz across to Southeast Asia to start a new life each year, whether to teach, work, or travel.

But we don’t think the destination matters so much. There are some fundamental changes that you’re sure to notice about moving abroad, ranging from newfound respect for the diversity of lifestyles around the globe to a bolstered sense of patriotism. Check it out…

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Longer Version

Est. Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Your bags are packed, you’re ready to go

So, you’re ditching the hometown for the high road? You’re heading abroad to start a new life? Excited? You should be. This is a seriously life-changing thing to do. No clichés. It really is. And if you don’t believe us, just take a look at all the ways it’s going to mix the Rat Race up.

You realize the way you lived isn’t the only way to live

There’s more than one way to skin a cat as the rather morbid saying goes. When it comes to living life, that’s the truest mantra you can have. After all, what’s even comparable between the day-to-day routine of a Hindu baba in the mystical mountain towns of the Himalaya and a young New York yuppie? (Apart from the fact they probably both meditate!)

Moving abroad is going to be more than just traveling. You’re not just going to see and experience a whole new way of living. You’re going to have to live at least parts of that new way of living. It might not be a huge shift, just a smaller breakfast here (Italy, we’re looking at you) or a morning swim in the ocean there (hello, Sri Lanka), but it’s going to be different. And different is the whole point.

It’s often hard to go back home

“Yea, I’m definitely going to go back home. I just don’t know when, exactly.”

If I had a cent for all the times someone who’s moved abroad said that to me, I’d have at least a dollar. Of course, some folk do eventually head back to the fold. An ex-pat abroad doesn’t necessarily equal an ex-pat abroad forever. But there’s a perpetual struggle between the old life and the new life in many a mover. They’re often torn between whether they’re on an extended gap year or embarking in a whole new direction.

The thing is, when home does win the battle and the escapee becomes the returnee, it can be pretty short-lived. The excitement of new places and new people can really sink in. The glamour of home isn’t what it used to be. Those bags are often packed and the passport at the ready once again in no time at all.

You learn to appreciate home on a whole other level

Get ready for your home life to become a distant memory and to forget about all the bad times, the boring routines, the poor weather. Pretty soon you’ll look back on where you once lived with a whole new level of appreciation, through rose-tinted glasses if you will.

I’m not saying here, for the record, that all that is a bad thing. Eulogizing your onetime lifestyle isn’t necessarily negative, so long as it doesn’t stop you from enjoying all the pros of your newfound pad. After all, they could be shimmering Thai beaches, spicy Mexican taquerias, or adrenaline-pumping hiking trails in the Alps. All good stuff, eh?

When the time does come to make a shift back to the long-gone stomping ground, all these feelings combine to make it something special. At Christmas, for someone’s birthday, or the wedding of an old friend, whatever the reason you’re retracing your steps, it’s sure to be laced with a lovely nostalgia.

You suddenly become patriotic

Maybe you stroll into a bar to find the USA in a soccer showdown against some European giant. Or perhaps you waltz into a sports pub and see the Welsh rugby team doing their thing. Or maybe it’s the Canadians hitting hockey pucks, a local athlete from the same state as you, or even something as small as a spelling bee. It doesn’t even matter. You’re going to be the most patriotic sports fan there is. You’ll be waving the flag, face-painted in national colors, bellowing the national anthem. Yep – even if you never watched a single sports game back at home.

Languages, new skills, new hobbies – there’s loads to learn

For some people, moving abroad is something that has to be done. For others, it’s something they want to do. The latter group is the folk that usually get to enjoy the process to the fullest. That’s because they can look forward to a whole new world of opportunities, alongside that new life.

Language is the obvious thing. No matter if you’re heading to the beer-mad cities of Germany or the buzzing marketplaces of Bangkok, you’re going to hear a novel lingo everywhere, every day. Most experts agree that there’s simply no better way to get to grips with speaking a foreign tongue than immersion.

It doesn’t end there. If you embrace the experience of going abroad, you’re going to expand your knowledge in all sorts of ways. From cooking spice-filled local foods in India to skiing down snow-doused slopes in the French Alps, the skills that are up for grabs in this process are endless and valuable.

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Actionable Steps


Embrace your new home

Don’t try to fight the changes that moving abroad will bring. Trust us, opening your horizons and learning new things is all part of the fun!


Enjoy returning to your old place

Without getting homesick about everything, it’s always good to have a healthy love for the place you used to live. That way, you’ll love it every time you do go back.


Don’t limit yourself to one destination

It could be that you find your dream place to live the first time you up sticks and go from A to B. It’s more likely you’ll get an appetite for globetrotting and want to do a little country-wide window shopping before settling for good.


Get into sports

Watching your home nation play any sport is one of the most common ways to express your identity in a new place. Everyone does it, from the Aussie cricketers to the all-American football fans. You won’t want to miss out!

About the Author

Rich Francis

Rich Francis

Endless Traveler

Since bagging his English and Ancient History degree, Rich has traveled from the canyons of Mexico to the surf-splashed bays of Bali, done five interrails, toured India, Indonesia, Thailand, and New Zealand, hiked in Italy and France, skied across the Alps, and lived in countless countries for a month or more at a time. Now at five continents and upwards of 50 countries (gaining a TEFL certification along the way), it’s safe to say he is a seasoned traveler.
Full Bio | Connect With Rich | LinkedIn

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