How does it feel to move abroad?
--- 5 years in Norway ---
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere.
That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
― Miriam Adeney
There are plenty of reasons why people move abroad. It can be falling in love with a foreigner, finding a dream job, need for change or simply a feeling of something familiar in a country that makes them to stay there. Whatever the reasons are, this experience can shake up with your life. If you are thinking about living abroad or you are just curious how we survived away from home, we wrote a post about how you feel when moving to a new country. We spent 5 years in Norway and we can say that it was one of our best decisions in life. That doesn’t mean it was an easy one, but we managed with a feeling of being proud of ourselves and extremely thankful for this life experience.
The grass is not greener on the other side. You have to get up early and go to work, buy groceries, fill the tax settlement and pay your bills, even abroad. It’s not some kind of a long-term vacation, it is actually damn hard. In the beginning you must fix your residence papers, id numbers, bank accounts, health insurance and fight with bureaucracy. It is often frustrating, you will meet the language barrier, and you will feel lost, rejected and stupid. But you do it, because you have to. Stepping out of your comfort zone will be your daily task at school, at work, even in a supermarket, so you get used to it soon.
Funny thing about having two homes is that everything in your life doubles. You will have two languages, two addresses, two phone numbers, two currencies, two bank accounts. In reality it means talking in Czech to your friends in Norway for a while without realizing they don’t understand a word. It also means crazy minutes in every shop, trying to find the right currency in the messy wallet or entering the wrong PIN code over and over again, because you are using the wrong card. And what is the first thing you do when your plane lands? Changing the sim card, of course!
Trying to live abroad will make you more adaptable and tolerant as you meet new people all the time with other customs, behaviour or religion. You are forced to think differently and look at your life with a new perspective. That feels new and interesting. Best thing is to meet awesome people from different culture that you have a stronger connection than with people you grew up. For most of the people it doesn’t really matter where you come from, actually. But you will meet also idiots who will refuse to talk to you just because you are a foreigner. Yes, it happens. And it is pretty weird for the first time when someone calls you a name just because you weren’t born in the same country or hangs up a phone just because you don’t talk the language like a native. Don’t worry, you will learn fast how to overcome this.
Everybody knows that the best way how to learn a language is to live in the country. BUT it doesn’t come just naturally, you have to make the effort. It is definitely not easy in the beginning when you know just the basic phrases and talk like a six year old, but don't worry, the locals will always appreciate your try and everything will get so much easier when you talk their language. In the end you can compare your first months full of stressful phone calls with your last months when you were able to lead a meeting in the language. That feels awesome!
The toughest thing about moving abroad is definitely to be away from your family and friends. You will miss so many important events you should be at, birthday celebrations, weddings, parties, new born kids. Your old friends will move while you won't be there. That feels like you are no longer part of their lives. On the other hand you will appreciate the rare moments together more. The rest of the year you spend on Skype fiddling with the damn camera and microphone. If you don't try to live abroad, you will never enjoy the fun and happiness when you surprise your parents by coming home unexpectedly. And you will get so surprised when they do the same thing to you and shows up at your home without noticing. You will also find out there are two ways of feeling homesick. The first one is the usual one. It is strongest the first weeks and months, but it fades away. The other one comes slowly and sneaky during the years, forcing you to come back. This one shows you that all that really matters is being with your loved ones.
Eventually and the most scary is the fact that you start getting closer to the new country than to your home over time. And here comes the problem, because now you don’t belong to any of those. You feel like you don’t really have a home. You will never be like a native in the new country no matter how much you try, but you don't belong home anymore, becoming a stranger in your own country, a tourist in your own city. That feels pretty strange and kind of sad.
We meet often people who say they are afraid to move abroad. But there is nothing to be really afraid of. When things went wrong for us, we always told ourselves: "The worst thing that can happen is that we return home. And that can’t be so bad. Home is home!" Yep, it needs a certain courage to pack a suitcase and go to a new country with almost no money, no place to stay, no work, but there are millions of people who did it. Anybody can do it if you give up the comfort life and start from scratch.
We think that the really scary thing is the opposite, returning to your home country. When you decide to come home after years and you tell yourself: “When things go wrong at home, where do I go then? What about my new friends. Will I ever see them again?”. There is no coming back and that is shit scarier than going abroad full of hope and expectations.
In the end of the day it is really awesome to have a country in the world that you can always visit and consider it your second home. This is a million dollar feeling!