Moving abroad taught me several things — most of all you have it within yourself to change.
Let me explain.
I wrote about our move to Spain in this article here back in 2018. It was my intention to follow up on that piece with life in a different country. However, life throws up its twist and turns and we had to return to the UK before we had planned to.
But I don’t regret trying and the lessons we learnt about life and ourselves will stay with us forever.
We got fully involved with the local community, admittedly many were ex-pats from different countries, which in part was one of the problems with settling in. But, no matter how you look at it, you are the outsider. When we decided to move to Spain, I thought the Spanish would be welcoming, despite not being fluent in the local language, but we would still be able to connect here.
But that wasn’t so easy. No matter how good you are at making friends and connecting with people, you will always be the strange one, the one who thinks and acts differently from the locals, the one who is different from the rest. And that is something that is hard for someone who doesn’t like standing out.
Sure, living by the ocean or in near-permanent sunshine is amazing. But you will still have to pay bills, fix clogged toilets, and recover from a nasty cold. Just because you live in another country — that may or may not look like paradise — doesn’t mean your problems will stay away and everything’s gonna be a walk in the park (or the beach). The honeymoon phase will end — always, and no matter where you are. Even though your friends may envy you for your life abroad, they might not realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
When you move abroad, you will join a special club: You will have two addresses, two languages, and two currencies in your wallet. Let’s not go as far as to say that you’ll have two personalities, but you will definitely always be part of two worlds — your old and your new home. The two worlds will probably become more and more of a blur over time, but there will most likely always be mail sent to your parents’ house or a bunch of boxes stored in a friend’s loft.
However, being able to call home — home, if you see what I mean, might be along way off and indeed may never fully come.
“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying”
This is no doubt trying to enable change within yourself by immersing in another culture is life-changing but does it change you as a person? Well, I think it does, as my outlook on life is different now than when I left for Spain. As much as anything I now appreciate my home country more, for all its faults, than before I left. Little things like being able to purchase known foodstuffs to cook with, green spaces and decent broadband!
One day we will try again but maybe spending more time travelling such as using a motorhome or a caravan. Not sure putting roots down overseas again will be our way forward.