Relocating to another country is definitely one of the biggest life changing things that can happen to you and that's why many people are having a hard time getting over the fear of moving abroad. The timing will never feel perfect if you want to move abroad because it will always be hard for you to leave family and friends behind and perhaps change your career completely. However if you never face your fears and try to deal with them, you will wait forever to take this big next step in your life. I would first like to ask you: what would your life be like if you never overcame any fears? Are you going to spend the rest of your life wondering what could have happened if you stepped outside of your comfort zone?
It was scary at the beginning for me too. Before I first moved abroad I experienced this roller coaster of emotions. I was so excited for this new chapter in life that was waiting for me, but on the other side I was also feeling nervous and scared. I didn’t know how to deal with the new environment, new culture, homesickness and starting a new job. I ended up saying to myself that I will figure out everything as I go and will deal with this big change step by step. In this blog post I want to share some tips that will hopefully help you get over a fear of moving abroad and deal with feeling overwhelmed.
What are the common fears that one can experience before moving abroad?
Fear of failure
How will I deal with homesickness and loneliness?
How will I afford this new life?
I don’t know if I can learn a new language
How about my safety?
1. Fear of failure
I think the biggest fear that a lot of people have before deciding to move abroad is a fear of failure and it’s completely normal. No matter what the reason behind moving is, you’re always at least a little bit afraid that you will fail and soon have to return back home. There is a chance that the new job won’t work out, maybe you will have a hard time meeting new people or perhaps you won’t like the country at all. However this cannot discourage you from chasing your dreams in the first place. Living as an expat is a special experience and you need to treat it that way.
No matter what happens, it’s important to learn as much as you can on your expat journey and believe that some other opportunities will come up. Try to enjoy every minute in your new home away from home, make as many friends as possible, explore different places and get to know the local culture. Even if you will have to return home, you will have a whole new perspective on life and you will be able to share your experience with others through your stories and perhaps help someone who also wants to move abroad along the way.
2. How will I deal with homesickness and loneliness?
For me one of the hardest things about living abroad is the fact that you live so far away from the family and friends. You miss a lot of occasions, such as birthdays, weddings and sometimes even Christmas. You will feel homesick and lonely and that’s just the way it is. Luckily, over the past 2 years I’ve learned how to deal with homesickness and I’ve shared the tips in this blog post https://www.livingexpatlife.com/post/how-to-deal-with-homesickness-when-living-as-an-expat.
I miss home very often, however I know that Slovenia right now is not the place for me and I’m much happier in Germany. Moving from country to country opened so many new opportunities for me and I’m also getting to know myself better.
But you have to remember that today is so easy to stay in touch with your loved ones. You can communicate with them on a daily basis using Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp. One thing that also helped me was the networking. I met so many great people since I moved abroad and they became my second family. So, make new friends, get yourself busy and use modern technology to stay connected with your family. You will be just fine! I promise.
3. How will I afford this new life?
Thinking about running out of money while living abroad is probably one of the biggest fears that we’re dealing with before we relocate and it’s for a good reason. Nobody wants to go completely broke while living abroad.
It’s always good if you can find a job before moving because then you will have a little more security. If that is not the case with you I would recommend you to save as much as you can before leaving home. Do an extensive research of the costs of living in your new country and make a plan based on your research. It’s useful to calculate how much money you would need to live there for 3 months without any income and add at least 20% on top of that.
4. I don’t know if I can learn a new language
Before I moved to Germany I only knew basic German so it was hard for me at the beginning, well it still is. It can be quite a challenge living in a country where English is not the first language. This year I relocated to a small town in Germany where a lot of people don’t even know a word in English so I’m basically “forced” to learn German in order to adapt to a new environment quicker.
I know it can be very hard to learn a new language, however if you start early and even before moving abroad, you will find out that it can be quite fun. I’ve recently posted an article where I shared 5 ways you can learn a new language all by yourself. Start with most basic words that you will need to use like “good morning”, “thank you” and “excuse me”. Download an app like Duolingo or Babbel. Those two are perfect for beginners and they have really fun exercises. Also try to watch a lot of movies in a language that you want to learn or listen to podcasts. Try to dedicate at least 1 hour every day to learn it.
5. How about my safety?
You have to be aware of the fact that wherever you move, there will be some level of danger. It’s totally understandable that you might get anxious when faced with the fact that you will live in an unfamiliar place. Learning about the country (weather, safe and less safe neighborhoods…) beforehand is one thing that will help you get over this fear. Prepare the emergency phone numbers before moving and be aware of any country-specific health alerts or common natural disasters.
Living abroad is wonderful!
Moving abroad can be a scary thing to do but you have to remember that this is also the best thing you can do for yourself. The chance to experience a completely new culture, making new friends and learning a new language can be life-changing. Hopefully these tips will help you alleviate common fears of moving abroad and make the next chapter of your life as positive as possible.