The feels you'll experience in the first month of living abroad
One of the cornerstones of the twenty-something uni experience is the semester or year abroad. Picking up your entire life and moving somewhere else can be a whole rainbow of emotion, from the dizzying highs, to the absolute lows. There is very little like it.
Uprooting your life to move to another part of the world can be a huge shock to the system, especially in ESL countries. It means having to learn a whole host of norms, attitudes and in some cases languages. From pushing people aside to get onto the subway, to tipping the adequate amount at restaurants, it can be a minefield. It may seem impossible at first, but with enough time, you’ll be a master and shaking your head at clueless tourists.
Here’s the secret to living abroad: it’s just a whole series of hoops to jump through, both in your home country and once you arrive. Between visas, school books and laundry detergent, you suddenly get struck with the realisation that you’re responsible for EVERYTHING that goes on in your life. That goes from making sure you don’t get deported, to ensuring you have enough money to eat that week.
For those who have previously lived with their parents, it can be a lot to get used to. Plus, adding the backdrop of a new, unfamiliar environment can make adult-ing 10 times harder. It may seem hard at first, but once you have it down, you’re going to have discipline to match any put-together 40-year-old (y’know, the actual adults).
No matter how long you’re away from home, homesickness will definitely be a thing. Dealing with a whole host of new experiences at once makes it easy to crave the familiarity of your home country. In the really bad days (which will come), remember the reason you left in the first place – to find familiar in the unfamiliar. They say your life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so when homesickness strikes, give it some time then keep on trucking.
Moving away from your support network of friends and family to a life alone can be isolating at the best of times, especially starting out. And if you’re in a country with a wildly different culture, it feels like no one quite understands you, figuratively or literally.
While social media is a great way to stay in touch with your friends back home, it also breeds a huge case of FOMO. Seeing all your friends hanging out, catching up and celebrating birthdays without you can make you wish you were back home with them. Even worse is when your fav musicians come to your country on tour. Of all the years they could’ve come, it had to be the year you left!
But chances are all your friends wish they were you, living it up abroad and being all ~worldly~. You’re going to come back with a lifetime of anecdotes to make everyone jelly, and the FOMO tables will be turned.
Despite all the responsibilities, homesickness and general emotional rollercoasters you’ll experience abroad, you’ll also be bloody excited to take the plunge. You’ll meet a whole host of new people, learn how to adult and become a local in another part of the world.
It may take time, but you’ll find your groove. Then when the time comes for you to leave, you’ll come back an entirely new person.
Kim is and Arts (Journalism)/Law student at Deakin, who has transplanted her life to Shanghai, China for the year. She deals primarily in memes, teas and blogging.