I often talk to people who have this false reality of what living abroad is like. They often fantasize the matter or set unrealistic expectations and living abroad isn't for the faint of heart or for everyone.
When I say that living abroad sucks, I mean that it is going to transform you body & soul. You will be a completely different person by the time you leave - no matter how long you have been abroad. I'm writing this post because I want people to know that living abroad isn't like they portray it to be in the movies and it will force you to make some really hard decisions regarding everything from relationships to budgeting your money.
Living abroad sucks because it forces you to figure things out for yourself without the help from family & friends. You are completely alone, for at least the first few weeks, and everything is on you. What you are going to eat for dinner, which grocery store you are going to shop at, which bank you are going to open an account at, which cell phone provider you are going to choose, etc. The list goes on and on and it's all on you. (While this list sounds like something you could be experiencing in another state or in your own country - add on top of that homesickness, new currency, new location/country, new culture, possibly a different language, etc.). It's a daunting experience to go from being surrounded by loved ones to being completely and utterly alone in any and all decision making.
Living abroad sucks because it forces you to recognize how ridiculous you've been living up until this point. How you rely on a car 100% of the time to get you from point A to point B. How you complain about walking even the slightest distance to go into a store or any location. How you buy the newest version of every electronic device that comes out. How you've wasted so much time staying in one place because you realize there is a great, big world out there.
Living abroad sucks because it forces you to reevaluate certain relationships and question whether or not they are a good fit for your life. People who have been in your life for years may or may not understand the transformation that you are undertaking and what the heck is actually going on in your mind while traveling. It makes you realize that while the world back home is staying EXACTLY the same you, yourself, are changing and transforming into the person you've always longed to be. No more are you going to let people hold you back because you've gained a strong sense of independence and can now finally make tough decisions. It takes gut and it takes faith that everything is going to work out the way that it is supposed to in the long run.
Living abroad sucks because it forces you to see this great, big, beautiful world and that just sucks doesn't it? It sucks that you have to go through airport lines and deal with TSA. It sucks that you have to ride two or three busses plus a train or two to get to your destination. It sucks that you have to stay in a hostel with other people while you are exploring said city or country. It sucks that you have to experience new cultures and interact with people who's first language isn't English. It really, really sucks huh?
Living abroad sucks because you realize that it doesn't suck at all and it's actually one of the best things you will and can ever do for yourself. You will see that life abroad forces you to realize so many things about yourself and the life you've been living. Living abroad sucks because it actually doesn't suck at all. It's one of the greatest experiences I've, personally, ever had in my life and it's made me grow so much as a human being.
I've learned during my time abroad not to take things for granted. To always rely on family and friends in times of need because they will be there to encourage you and pick you up when things get tough. To walk instead of driving to places. To cook at home and eat out less. To interact with as many people as you can in your life because their stories are inspirational and you can often learn a thing or two from them. To live each day like it's your last. To say YES to as many adventures and experiences as you can. To jump that fence and cross that path that says 'No Trespassing'. To let go of the iPhone and computer as much as you possibly can and just soak in what you are seeing. To slow down and venture out into nature as often as possible. To try new foods. To push yourself physically and mentally. To be less of a tourist and more of a traveler. To learn the locals ways and immerse yourself in their culture.
I think living abroad sucks because it makes us realize just how insane we are to think that living the same day for 60 years is living life. Routine will kill us and we will burn out eventually. The best thing we can do for ourselves, our friends, our family, our loved ones is to travel. To see the world. To seek new experiences. To seek new adventures. To say YES more often.
Do this...do this and I promise you your life will change for the better. Yeah, living abroad is going to suck for the first few weeks and sure there are cons to every situation. But it will also teach you so many things about life, yourself, your surroundings and the people you interact with. It will teach you appreciation but most of all it will teach you to be open-minded which is exactly what more people in this world need to be.
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