Living in a different part of the world is quite possibly the most enriching thing you'll experience in your lifetime. Yes, hopping on planes and continuously traveling around the globe always seems like a dream, but in my opinion, the adventure becomes a bit more interesting when you get to actually stay somewhere for a while. To me, studying abroad was my experience with
living in another country for the first time. Spending four months in Italy was beautiful, and I'd live there again in a heartbeat.
I had to go through some stages to get adjusted. All of that pasta and wine completely made up for it, though (and don't even get me
started on the pizza). The difference between being there for an entire semester versus just a vacation, was that I got to know the people and the best local spots to eat or catch a sunset. You could scroll through Pinterest or watch travel vlogs for hours to get the scoop on these sort of things before you go, but nothing compares to finding them for yourself.
One day, I'd love to live abroad again and put roots in maybe a new place. Being able to call a city beyond the borders of your country "home" is an amazing feeling, and every true traveler will have it on their bucket list. You can be prepared to face these seven stages, and all of the beauty that comes with them.
You'll Learn The Language
Living abroad means that you'll likely learn the language. At first, this may be your biggest struggle, because you'll have so many questions and won't know how to ask them. You'll pull out your pocket dictionary, and try your best. Did I accidentally say to the store owner that I was looking for my eyes? I meant eggs! Oops. But, you'll get the hang of it and start picking up on common phrases.
Some of the people you'll run into will speak English, but it'll make your life so much easier (and will feel so rewarding) when you can hold a full conversation in the local language. This is the first stage you'll face, but quite possibly the most fun, too.
You'll Figure Out How To Get Around Your New Home
Well, you made it to your new home, and now it's all about figuring out those subways, trains, and everything in between. You'll be working and need to know how to get to your office or around the city in case you ever have to run some errands. Spending the first week (or let's be honest, month), just studying the schedules and routes might not be a bad idea. It's all part of the adventure.
You'll Adjust To The New Time Zone
Jet lag is real, and something you'll have to face if you're living abroad — at least for the first week or so. Up until now, you may have gone on vacations to places across the pond, so you know what this feeling is like, and that it doesn't last forever. But,
putting roots in a new land means that you have to adjust to being in a different time zone on an entirely new level.
All of your friends and family members will be hours ahead or hours behind, so you won't necessarily be able to talk to them at any given moment during the day. With a new time zone may also come watching your favorite shows in the middle of the day, or not having to wake up so early for the next royal wedding. (Phew. Getting up at 4 a.m. that day was a struggle!)
You'll Become One Of The Locals
Once you start living in a place, you feel like one of the locals. You're not just visiting this city for a while. In fact, you have an apartment here and maybe even a favorite coffee shop that's down the street. It's basically like your hometown, except with maybe a few more touristy spots that you'll learn to avoid. I mean, seriously, those crowds and cameras can get old, and you're just trying to get to class!
In the first few weeks that you're living abroad, you'll absolutely want to see all of the sights, but also fit in with the locals. So, you'll pose in front of the Eiffel Tower real quick, and then keep going on with your day. It's just another stage of calling another land home and getting familiar with your surroundings.
You'll Find Different Brands To Use
Your favorite shampoo and conditioner is probably not going to be available when you're living abroad. So, a key stage is finding new ones that have that same sweet coconut smell or make your hair just as soft. You got so attached to your usual brands, so you can't imagine being somewhere for an extended period of time without them. But, you'll find products that can get the job done. I Pinky promise.
You'll Start Eating Different Foods
Every country comes with its own menu, and the first time you live abroad, you'll start eating foods you maybe didn't think to try before. If you're living in France, you may try escargot, and anywhere along the Mediterranean Sea means seafood is going to be a pretty big part of your diet. Living in Asia will introduce you to new spices, and you'll learn to live without the peanut butter in Italy. (Shocking, I know.)
Like everything else, you'll get used to this new palette of flavors. You'll learn to cook with new ingredients, and possibly start eating later if that's what the locals do. Food is actually one of the most important parts of any culture, and you're going to feel lucky to be truly experiencing the essence of your new country.
You'll Disconnect A Bit From Home
When you're putting roots in a new place and calling it home, it's sort of essential that you disconnect a bit. You don't want to be entirely on your phone, wondering what your people are up to back home, because you'll miss out on so many new opportunities that are naturally coming your way. You'll want to check in and tell them all about your experience, but be sure to give living abroad a solid chance and put your focus on building a life there.
Truth is, if
you're a true traveler, you know that this is the adventure of a lifetime. Once you go through this stage, you know you're making the most of your new surroundings while living abroad for the very first time.