10 things I’ve learned from living abroad
Seven years ago, I packed my bags and left all I had: job, business, family, friends, relationship. EVERYTHING, to embark on a new adventure.
Deciding to move to the Netherlands was not too scary. I spent one year abroad when I was younger and in the blink of an eye, I was back home. “It would be for just a couple of months”, I said to myself, and to all the ones around me. And seven years later, here I am, living a life I never imagined I would have.
Have I changed, or has everyone else changed?
I feel blessed, Amsterdam has given me some of the greatest years of my life, the most amazing husband, my dearest friends, the opportunity to travel to places I never thought I would be able to visit, a career. But, at the same time, it is a bitter-sweet feeling. I find it hard (and sad) to believe that I’ve been so far from my roots, my family and the life I once had, for so long.
People here always ask me: Do you miss home? Why would you leave Mexico for cold and grey Amsterdam? Do you want to go back? Of course, I miss home! And yes, I think about the possibility of going back. Though, I know that nothing back home will be as it used to be.
Have I changed, or has everyone else changed? This is a question I ask myself quite often. When I go back “home” I no longer feel at "home", at ease... I feel disconnected, foreign. Though, at the same time, I am extremely happy when I am there.
A learning experience
These years living abroad have been an amazing adventure, but not all of it has been rainbows and flowers. Sadness and all sorts of struggles have also been part of the journey. Though, I wouldn't change a thing. If anything, all these years have been a great learning experience. About myself, about relationships, about feelings. So, I thought, I might as well just share them:
1. You have to get out of your comfort zone
When you have no friends and family around, you will see that doing things you considered "weird" before, won't be so strange anymore. Going to a bar on your own? Travelling solo? Attending meetups with random people? Who cares!
2. You will never be the same
The things you liked, what you ate, what you believed in. All of it will change, it is inevitable. All the new experiences, new cultures and people you'll meet, will shape you in a way you never imagined.
3. Your (true) friends will always be your friends
Distance and time are the true tests of friendship, and when you are far, far away, some people simply forget about you. And that’s ok, those that stay close are the true keepers and with them, you will always feel as if time stands still. You will learn to really appreciate the people who are there for you.
4. Your family loves you no matter what
I still remember my mom’s reaction when I told her I was staying in Amsterdam. She was not happy, of course. But despite that, she's been by my side all these years. What I've learned? Be there for them too! Don't take them for granted.
5. You may feel disconnected
You are not from "here" nor from "there". You may feel like a stranger a lot of times. Just embrace it, you get to keep the best of both worlds.
6. You become stronger
When you live abroad, you must figure out so many new things. From getting an ID card to a bank account to getting sick and not having your mom's homemade remedies to make you better. Believe me, you will toughen up, you have no choice!
7. Things won’t always go as planned
And that's the beauty of life. When you let life happen, beautiful things come your way.
8. Time flies!
It just does, so enjoy every step of the way.
9. You will feel proud - and you should!
You will achieve great things, you'll see. All the sweat and tears are worth it, and you should acknowledge how capable you are.
10. You discover who you really are
Your life changes completely when you are abroad. You evaluate your values, your beliefs. And as cliché as it may sound, you connect deeply with yourself.
Having a purpose in life is way more important than having a plan. You never know what life will bring and if you are open to new possibilities, great things will certainly come. Stay true to what makes you happy and the "when" and "how" will come by itself.
Do you relate to any of the above? I'd love to hear about your experiences.