You just can’t concentrate at work anymore. You spend most of the day on Instagram scrolling through travel pictures. You’re job doesn’t light you up and you spend most of the day wondering if you’ll ever break out of the soulsucking rat race. Your commute is beginning to feel like torture.
If you’re being honest, there’s probably at least a tiny part of you that wants to just drop everything and move to a new country. Set sail and travel full time. I get that. Life is short and we live on a beautiful planet. It would be a tragedy to go through life and only see a small sliver of all the beauty this world has to offer.
That’s why I moved to Budapest, Hungary when I was 22.
Unfortunately, at the time, expat coaching wasn’t really a thing and I didn’t have anyone to offer me honest advice on how to move abroad.
The reality is, moving to a different country is hard. Even in the best of circumstances, the culture shock, language barrier, and stresses of everyday life can have a SERIOUS impact on your mental health. I know it impacted mine.
That’s why I’m writing this blog series to give you all of the information I wish I had before I showed up completely alone in a country I had never been to before.
Looking back, it was nuts of me to do this without any help. Luckily, you don’t have to.
1. Ego Calls vs. Soul Calls
Some people feel the call to travel, some people don’t. If you are feeling the call, before you uproot your life, you need to figure out where that call is coming from. If you are inspired to travel by the Instagram models you follow, if you imagine this journey is going to be easy and glamorous, and if you fantasize about showing off how cool and exciting your life is, it’s probably your ego that wants to travel. If that is the case, you aren’t going to have the stamina that it takes to move abroad full time. When shit gets hard, your ego is going to get bored real fast.
On the other hand, you might be experiencing a call to travel that comes from deep in your soul. You will feel this call throughout your entire body. Your desire to travel comes from wanting to see more of this gorgeous planet we live on. If your soul is asking you to travel, it is coming from a desire to expand and grow. It is only with this growth mindset that you will be able to overcome the literal and emotional hurdles that come with long term travel.
2. If Your Call is Genuine, It Isn’t Going Away
Soul calls come to us for a reason and ignoring them will not make them go away. You may be too afraid to quit your job and move abroad. That’s normal, but that doesn’t mean your desire is going anywhere. If you have a soul call to travel (or to do anything really) you need to answer it in earnest. The good news is that if it is a genuine soul desire, the Universe will move things around to make it happen, as long as you take the leap and make the effort.
Before I moved abroad, I was sick with nerves. Each day I got closer to the move, I felt sicker and sicker, but I knew my desire to see the world was bigger than my fear of change and airplanes. I took the leap and the Universe opened doors for me, both in my career and in my personal growth.
3. You Need Help
When I moved to Budapest, I did not have the help or support I needed. I actually didn’t even have that when I studied abroad in college. It wasn’t until I had been living in Budapest for almost two years that I learned there was an industry supporting expats with everything from coaching, to accounting, to in person events.
Living abroad is wildly stressful at times. Simple things waiting in line at customs and going to the doctor sometimes make you want to give it all up and move back to safety. But getting yourself the support you need will make this experience so much more viable and save yourself unnecessary suffering.
4. You Need to Study the Language
Note that I didn’t say you need to learn the language! Learning the language is great and will seriously improve your career cred, but it’s not totally necessary. It is necessary to study the language and do your best to use it in everyday life.
For one, it’s just good etiquette when you move to a new country, but it goes deeper than that. Studying the language will help you acclimate more to living in a new place. But it will also open you up for richer experiences.
Locals know learning a new language is hard, and they will so appreciate your efforts, even if they laugh at your mispronunciations. People will be kinder and help you more which makes all of the study well worth it. And nothing can beat that feeling of accomplishment when you are finally able to negotiate with street vendors or order in a cafe in a new language. If you can manage it, start studying the language before you get there. Even if you only know a few words, it will ease your transition.
5. Transplant Shock is Not Just for Plants
Transplant shock is when you move a plant from one spot to another and no matter what you do, it just can’t thrive. This totally applies to humans as well. (Note: I’m kind of stealing this idea from Venessa Rodriguez of the Wildly Rooted Podcast).
When you move to a new place, your system is going to be in shock for awhile. Your circadian rhythm is going to have to adjust. It’s actually normal for women to miss their periods when they move to a new country, I always do. The new foods may be hard on your digestive system. And you may find yourself depressed, homesick, and emotionally fried. This is a normal part of the process, but there are ways to diminish these symptoms. (link to other article)
6. There Are Options
A lot of people have preconceived notions about what their career is going to look like when they move abroad. Some people think their only option is to teach English. Others envision a remote job or working locally. There are pros and cons to all of these work options but try to keep an open-mind. There are more options that you are capable of seeing right now, so remain open to seeing the benefits of these different career paths or even trying multiple options at the same time. Not every job you have is going to be your dream job, but with the right mindset, every job can be a step towards living your dream life.