Traveling is the quench to every thirsty Instagram, the rouge to every plain Facebook profile. The next step in the attempt to have an eventful youth is actually living abroad.
Now, this is all well and good if you do this purely for the adventure and the social media envy. However, when you get swept up in a practical situation, like work or school, things will come to a breaking point.
Frolicking around the world and taking odd jobs in-between vacations is one thing, but stationary stones gather all types of gunky, slippery moss.
It's the type that turns the thoughts of moving back to your home country into stress dreams. And they're not just jolts in the night; they're the ones where you grind your teeth and wake up drenched in sweat.
Maybe, you just went to school abroad and are moving back home to stave off the nightmare of unemployment in a foreign land. Possibly, your visa expired. Hopefully, you're moving back for something nice, like a job offer.
Whatever the reason, there are universal, groan-sprouting thoughts you have to wrestle with before you leave your latest domicile.
1. What am I going to do with all my stuff?
This is the first rational hurdle. Thinking about it makes your stomach turn, and your armpits produce a special kind of musk that begs for a two-hour shower.
If you've been living somewhere, anywhere, for years, then you naturally accumulate stuff. Even if you knew you weren't staying there forever, decluttering simply begs for procrastination until the proverbial fire is lit under the proverbial ass.
What in the name of baby Jesus are you going to do with the tangled chords and stacks of loose papers? There are stacks of bloody papers shoved in any space that's not immediately visible to house-guests.
Does one look through all of this? That's like an emotional minefield, really. There could be memories in-between all of the shopping lists and bills. Perhaps one just chucks it all out and hopes that nothing important gets tossed.
What about the things you can't throw away? Should you ship your bean bag chair to your parents' house? How much is shipping all of the furniture and books going to cost? What about the clothes that aren't at all suitable for your country's climate?
Maybe it can all go in storage until you make your way back here, even if it's just to come back to sort belongings out. Will you ever actually come back here again, though?
That's when things get a bit heavy.
2. What's going to happen to all my friendships?
It may cross your mind how many friendships suffered the last time you hopped off to a different country. There were all of the Skype calls you ignored, and all of your WhatsApp messages no one replied to.
You feel so dependent on the bonds you made here. This time will be better, right?
You already know a few people who will be impossible to keep in contact with long-distance. You barely text as it is. Some friendships only have chemistry in person.
The scary ones are your BFFs. You talk every day, but every now and then, there's the relationship that seems to trickle into nothingness inexplicably.
Heaven forbid you fell in love. That's more work than most people can manage. You have the trust issues, the temptations and the loneliness. And it's all heading your way.
The thought of Skype sex may not tickle your fancy.
3. How quickly am I going to adjust to being back home?
You're probably crashing with family or friends for awhile, unless you're one of those people with his or her sh*t together, and found a place before moving back. Context clues should tell you this wasn't written for you, then.
Living with your parents again will probably gnaw on your patience after the honeymoon period of a week or so is over. You just know it.
On the bright side, this might be a great thing, if where you're from is more developed than where you were. If it's the reverse, then it's time to manage those lifestyle expectations. The carriage turned back into a pumpkin.
Either way, the lowering or heightening of luxury is a great way to feed nostalgia. It'll be neat telling everyone how different everything was, and how cultured you now are.
If you're self-aware, you know this will end in agitation. You'll either get tired of the questions or bore everyone to death with your unsolicited reminisces.
Speaking of which, those friends I mentioned earlier? The ones you lost contact with? Have fun running into them at the supermarket.
4. Will I ever return?
This one has probably weaved its way through all of the others. Where you are now became home at some point. You've formed memories and bonds.
Leaving feels like you may be losing something. What if you run out of reasons to ever come back? What if life gets in the way?
Sure, you'll always have the memories, but does it matter? Those aren't as palpable as the routine you had, the life you lived. Change is scary, even if it's something familiar.
What if you do come back and everything changes? Will you somehow be demoted to just a tourist again?
No matter what happens, where you've lived becomes a part of you. Undoubtedly, your experiences have formed you into a new person, and in that way, you never truly leave.