I have finally passed the 6-month mark as an expat in England! In such a short time, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Not just the local customs, but I’ve gained a much larger perspective than I had before. I’ve discovered lots of ups and downs!
Everyone Continues On
While you’re off in some other country, your friends and family will not put their lives on hold. Friends get married or break-up, siblings have kids and buy houses, parents travel and explore and everyone continues on whether you’re around or not. It’s totally hard watching their lives from afar and offering support through a screen, but you chose this.
Work to Live
I was so excited about living closer to Europe to travel quicker and cheaper. No longer will it take a 9-hour flight to Italy! News flash: it still costs to travel and sometimes that’s just not possible. As a foreigner on a time-limited visa, the job pickings aren’t always the brightest nor am I considered a worker in a shortage industry (teaching, nursing, etc). So we’re talking minimum wage. A week holiday in Germany can be hard on my kind of budget after the bills are paid.
After trying it out in a new country, I’ve realized that the world is so much larger than expected. There are so many places I can live, work and explore. Sometimes the options are overwhelming but you won’t look at “home” the same way. I had thought about living abroad or travelling extensively for years but always assumed it was slightly out of reach. It’s not a good idea. It wouldn’t work.
Taking the plunge showed me that things are be possible if you work for it (but nothing happens overnight). If there’s something that’s important to you, brushing it aside because it seems out of reach isn’t a good enough reason to avoid it.
As exciting as the move will be, it’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever done. While your friends and family may support you, the choice is for your own benefit, not theirs. It can be greatly liberating, but remember that it can take a toll on others.
It’s not always sunny. Blogs, movies and TV shows show a beautiful picture of expats in faraway countries. There are great things about living abroad, but not everything. Being an expat comes with failures, like some friendships I’ve tried definitely didn’t work out, major isolation in a foreign country and jobs I’ve applied for weren’t remotely interested in me. It sucks sometimes.
Living in Canada, I never really thought about how other people live around the world. Surely we all do things the same way! I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve discovered: your way is not the only way. Words are spelled and said differently here and they’re correct, too. Driving on the right hand side of the road is illegal. Afternoon tea is an important part of the day. Things are done differently here and people are still thriving.
I am more than grateful for my experiences so far in England and I will always miss Canada whenever I’m away. But I’ve learned there’s a big world out there and I’m excited to see it.