When I tell people that I’m from Venezuela and I live in Europe, they start dreaming about the romantic idea of living abroad in some foreign land.
When I talk about the places I’ve been and the experiences I lived, people tell me how they wish they could do it too. They tell me that I’m lucky or that they are jealous (in a good way, of course). But what they don’t see are the sacrifices that come with living abroad, especially those you left back at home.
Living Abroad is all about the expectations you come with.
After more than 10 years living abroad in three different continents, you can pretty much spot those who will be able to make it and those who will go back. You see it from the beginning, after the honeymoon phase which ends more or less after the 4th month.
The symptoms are very similar. First is frustration, you can hear it in their conversations. They talk about how “stupid” things are at the hosting country and how much better they are at home. They also complain about the people, claiming that they are not funny and are strange. Just listen.
Next they begin to resist. They don’t explore anymore, they only hang out with people from their home country. They may stop going out beyond the necessary and spend a lot of time catching up with friends at home. Rather than focusing on starting a new life, they cling to their old one at home. This mounts the pressure and finally they give up, they decide to go back.
So for those of you who did manage to get beyond this small bump and made/are making a living in your new host country; those of you who were able to get over all the frustrations, the conflicts, the learning points and the challenges (as if they will be ever finished), you know very well that this is nothing compare to what sucks about living abroad.
What really sucks about living abroad.
This past week, finally after 3 years I managed to see my sister. I think I’ve never felt so anxious, waiting for somebody at the airport. She is now gone but, the picture of her walking out of the gates will stay printed deep in my memory until I see her again.
We only had 3 days to catch up. 3 days to share the random stories that have made us who we are now. As she talks, her smile tells me she is happy too. I barely know what to say or where to start. I’m still in shocked by the idea of my younger sister having her first gray hairs.
Moving to Austria over 4 years ago was my idea. A choice that I will never regret and for sure a once in a lifetime opportunity. Been here has not been easy, neither for me nor my parents nor my sister. Their unconditional support has allowed me to continue pushing forward.
This is the thing that I believe it sucks the most from living abroad. Being far away for those you care about. Many times you just wish you could gather everybody in one place and enjoy them. The best of your worlds, together. If only. I can’t imagine how hard this would be without skype, whatsapp, viber or facebook.
Now I want to ask you something.
You don’t need to be necessarily living abroad to appreciate this. There are many reasons why people move somewhere else than their place of origin. Maybe for the experience, maybe for work or university. Maybe they were sent there against their will. Maybe they are running away from incompetent governments or even worse, wars.
Regardless of what is your case, I want to ask you something. Are you making these sacrifices be worth it? or are you just complaining about how things are there where you are? Have you made the conscious and proactive decision to make the most and grow from the experiences you encounter every day?
Many would love to have the opportunity that life has given you. Living somewhere else, discovering themselves and the world they live in. Or being able to build a life in the place they are from, near their families and childhood friends.
So I ask you again, you will always have two choices. Either you complain about everything, sit down, and wait for time to pass by? or are you going to make the sacrifice of leaving behind your family, your culture, your language to become the person you want to be?
Living abroad is without a doubt the most rewarding and challenging experiences you will ever go through. Beyond opening your mind to new perspectives, the constant test pushes you out of your comfort zone and into the magic zone.
Make sure to wake up every day and strive to make the most out of it. Next time you feel down, just remember that there is a lot that you and those who love you have sacrificed for you to be where you are now. Just get up and continue moving forward!
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