Five things living abroad taught me about adulting

March 24, 2017
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When I moved to Australia for uni, that period of my life naturally became my formative years. I had to rely on myself to navigate through the great unknown that is adulthood.

For those in the same boat, or for those have moved out of their parents’ home, you’re probably no stranger to what being away by yourself has taught you.

Learning to get places

For someone who’s chronically impaired with directions, travelling abroad meant I had to learn to get to my destination one way or another. I learned to use public transport, and I also realised that Google Maps isn’t too shabby. Instead of always being on my phone, I learned to notice the surroundings, and specifically, landmarks more often.

Also, for those of you who can’t afford a car, car-sharing is now a thing (hello GoGet.) Paired with Google Maps, you can drive yourself to anywhere a little further than usual for a reasonable price. Did someone say road trip?

‘Adulting’ stuff

You know, the things they don’t teach you at school. Living abroad or even moving out means you now have to deal with scary adult-sounding stuff such as  ‘insurance’, ‘banking’ and ‘bills’. Chills.

This is the time you have to figure out things such as setting up your bank account, or figuring out how your insurance works and what it covers. Adulting also means picking up the phone and making your own appointments. It’s OK if you feel the need to call your Mum and tell her you miss her at this point.

Realising that money makes the world go round

Fine, maybe not. But money is really important. And if I didn’t know that already, living abroad definitely cemented it for me.

Paying bills means you become more aware of how much everything costs, which translates to attempts at conserving more of everything, and the slow acceptance that living the Instagram life all day, errday, is virtually impossible.

A growing appreciation for the value of money also means I hold on to my loyalty cards like they’re gold. Rest assured I’m counting down to my free 10th cup of coffee. My calendar is also marked with when Ladies’ Night is, because cheaper entry doesn’t hurt.

Places of interest

Living abroad made me more aware of important places such as the nearest clinic or police station, compared to when I was comfortably sheltered back home. If an emergency came up, I didn’t want to waste crucial time figuring out where places are.

Besides that, when you’ve lived somewhere else long enough, you’re entitled to have your own favourite haunts. Let’s be honest – it always sounds cool when you tell a mate you’ll bring him to your fave pizza joint/café/bar.

Live and learn

Living away from home slowly shows you that you’re truly the only person responsible for your life, and what comes out of it is what you make out of it. #Deep

You learn to cook because it’s cheaper, you take up guitar lessons because you’ve been wanting to explore a hobby, and you talk to that person over there because he seems interesting, and there’s nothing to lose. You become more adventurous, and inevitably, that means encountering more setbacks and failures.

But in time, you’ll see you always turn out OK. Living abroad really is a big feat by itself, and that’s always something worth feeling proud about.

Sarah Leow

Sarah loves to eat and is already thinking about breakfast when she goes to bed. She's a recent psych major graduate from the University of Melbourne.

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