Good and bad things that will surprise you about moving abroad

Moving to a new country is something that more and more people are doing as time goes on. With travel getting easier, education more accessible at all stages of life, and international connections simpler to make, it’s no surprise that many of us are deciding that we’d like to give somewhere new a go at least for a while. 

The history of migration is littered both with people who have done it and found it to be the best decision they ever made, and others who look back on it with regret. In truth, you don’t know how you’re going to handle it until you give it a try, but if you can bear the following information in mind, you’ll be in for fewer rude awakenings and have a better chance of making it positive.

You will miss the strangest things

Of course, when you move abroad you will miss any family and friends you’ve said goodbye to. You’ll expect that, and you’ll make arrangements to ensure that it’s not as bad as you had thought. What will surprise you, though, is the way that you will miss little things. You’ll get a craving for pizza, but specifically the kind of pizza you could only get from a certain pizzeria in your town – and even if you’ve moved to Naples from Nantucket, that craving will be insatiable. This, for some reason, will really get you down.

People will find you fascinating

And it will be weird and a little unsettling to begin with. When you migrate to a new place, and people start to notice you around, there will be a bunch of things about you that fascinate them. The way you speak, the ease with which you speak their language, any stories you have about your home town… it’s genuinely like being a minor celebrity, even down to the fact that people will buy you meals and drinks just for being there.

Homesickness can come with a delay

You can expect to cry more than a few times in your first week in a new place, because it’s a little like taking a parachute jump: for just a moment, you’ll wonder why you left the safe place behind and how you’re going to survive. Then you’ll look at this resource for information, grow into your new surroundings and have the best time ever; and this will happen within days or weeks, it’s that sudden. But you’ll still have occasional pangs of homesickness and wonder if this move was worth it. It was, but we are human, and we question our decisions long after we’ve made them.

You’ll pick up the language faster than you thought

We’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’ve done some work to learn the language before the move. If you didn’t think you’d bother doing that, rethink now: it makes all the difference. But the key thing here is that as long as you have put in the effort to learn some key phrases and basic conversational French, Spanish or Vietnamese, once you’re on the ground over there it becomes much easier to learn. You’ll see and hear it everywhere in a way you can’t replicate in your current country, and that habituation is key to going from basic to intermediate, and from advanced to fluent.