Moving to a new place can be hard. Especially when you’re relocating to a new country, there is so much to worry about. Where will I live? Where will I work? Will I like it? How will I even make friends? Fortunately, the things that seem like a big deal, always work themselves out, and in the long run, the experience and benefits of trying something new outweigh all the worry, fear, and challenges that go hand-in-hand with moving overseas.
A few months ago, I packed my bags and moved across the world from Los Angeles to Australia. That was the plan. Beyond that, I was very unsure of where my future would lead me. As the date of my departure approached, I found myself growing more hesitant. I had just spent an amazing summer in LA, hanging out with friends, going to the beach, and working for a startup with coworkers who quickly became some of my closest friends. I began to think more about what I would be “giving up” when I left and started to worry that if my experience abroad wasn’t amazing, I’d be worse for it; I would have given up my relationships, my job, my social circle in LA for nothing.
As I told more people of my approaching departure, however, something surprising happened. I was met with resounding excitement and congratulations for making such a big move. My friends begged me to blog, so that they could follow along with my adventure, and my employer even offered to allow me to work remotely as an independent contractor. While I wasn’t completely free from the scrutiny of some my more “ambitious” and “organised” friends, I found that generally the people who mattered to me most didn’t resent me for leaving, they encouraged me to do it!
Having been in Australia for about three months now, I can look back and be truly thankful that my friends and family encouraged me to make this change. While it hasn’t been easy or enjoyable 100% of the time, it has been a wonderful experience so far—and I know it will only get better from here. Of course there are times where I miss home, or where things don’t feel like they’re working out—but I’ve come to realise that’s the way life works. Through challenging myself, I’ve learned more about who I am as a person as well as the world around me.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the five most valuable lessons I’ve learned by moving overseas solo:
Things never work out the way you expect: When I first got to Australia, I thought I’d be living in Melbourne for a year. Initially, that had been my plan and I found myself trying to force it to work out. Because I had set out with the idea that this was what I was going to do and where I was going to live. I was trying to create a situation that was not correspondent with the reality of actually living there. Once I became more flexible and less dead-set in my plans and expectations, I began to realise that I really wasn’t limited to anywhere and that I should perhaps reconsider my options with a more open mind. This shift in my mentality allowed me to make a decision to move to Sydney and try something new, and I immediately fell in love with the city. Not only that, but all the other details fell into place serendipitously in a way that I could have never planned for.
If you don’t like something, change: The first job, first living arrangement, what felt like the first everything I experienced in Australia was less than ideal. Obviously, a bit of homesickness mingled with a few bad occasions is never a good combination—but I began to feel underwhelmed by what was happening in my life. I moved here for a reason: to have fun and to enjoy my time here. When I realised I wasn’t living up to my own standards, I knew I needed to do something about it. Of course, it’s easier to do when you’re fresh in a position, but this is a lesson I’ll keep with me for life: there is no excuse for cheating yourself out of your own happiness.
Someone is always there to help you: Even when you move far away from everyone you know and trust, there will be someone there for you. If you reach out and ask, there are so many good people who genuinely want to help others. Be it a stranger giving you directions on the street, or a new friend who can help you find roommates, no matter where you go or what you need—you can find help if you ask for it.
You will find friends in unlikely places: While I was still searching for a permanent living situation, I stayed at an AirBNB owned by a woman whose sons are grown adults now and have thus moved out. Having never stayed at an AirBNB by myself before, much less one where the host is also home, I was a little nervous about the idea of staying with a stranger. However, I quickly learned that there was nothing to worry about, as she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. When American Thanksgiving rolled around, she knew that I wouldn’t have anyone to celebrate with here and made a Thanksgiving dinner with me and a few others. I would have never expected that I’d consider someone so seemingly different from me to be a friend to me here, but I am so happy to have made that connection.
Moving far away doesn’t ruin friendships, it makes them stronger. Moving overseas has made one thing particularly clear to me: which friendships back home really matter. When you’re used to seeing people everyday or every week, you get used to their company and never really stop to think about what that relationship means to you. However, once an effort is actually required to maintain contact despite time differences etcetera, it becomes clear which relationships are truly valuable. While it may sound insensitive to say that it feels natural for some friendships to fade, it is the reality of the situation. However, this only further highlights who really is important in your life!