7 Things I Wished I Knew Before Moving Abroad

September 28, 2018

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How to move abroad, everything I wish I knew before moving abroad.

We’ve officially been residents of Europe for nearly three months, and at times it feels like it has absolutely flown by, and other times its truly felt like we’ve already been here for years. Moving abroad has been one of the best decision we’ve ever made. It sure feels like we’ve learned a ton since we’ve been here, and I know that we’re really only on the tip of the iceberg. 

So today, I thought I would get real real with ya and share some of things I wished I had known before moving abroad. You know, the “real life” parts of what it’s like to pick up your life and move to a completely different country. 

So whether you’re thinkin’ about moving abroad yourself, or are just curious what it’s like to pick up your life and move to the other side of the world, you’ll find some juicy tidbits that await ya!

Psst…curious about why we wanted to move abroad to begin with? You might wanna check this out!

Because at the end of the day, I always wanna keep it real with you incredible humans, and life isn’t always as beautiful as it looks on Instagram 😉 

Thinking about moving abroad? Let’s jump in!

HOURS OF OPERATION ARE MORE LIKE GUIDELINES  

This is really for Spain, specifically, but one of the biggest adjustments to moving to Europe was coming to terms with the fact that so many shops, stores, offices, etc are closed at the oddest hours of the day. In Spain, some of that is due to the siesta (which, yes, is a very real thing). Stores are typically open from 9 AM to around 1 or 2, and then from around 4:30 – 8:00. This took a TON of getting used to as it was so odd to have stores be closed in essentially the middle of the day. Part two to this is that most of Europe is on holiday during the month of August, which is when we moved. We knew this going in, but it was still an interesting feat trying to get anything accomplished when every business is seemingly closed. Ah, the slow life. We’ve learned to (somewhat) embrace it. 

YOU’LL DOUBT YOURSELF

100% true. Underlined. Capitalized. Emphasized. Moving abroad has without a doubt been one of the most humbling experiences ever. Think about it. You’re coming from a place where you’re (likely) super comfortable. You’ve got your routine, you know exactly what places you love to go to in your city, you’re pretty much a pro. And then? All of a sudden you’re a total rookie. It’s like that feeling when you were a senior in high school, and “knew everything” to go into freshman year of college, and all of a sudden you know absolutely nothing. Time to just dive in, and realize you’re a total newb! Learning the ropes is part of the fun, and each time something here sort of “clicks” for me, it feels like a huge accomplishment. Cheers to the little things, man.

YOU’LL GET FRUSTRATED 

Anyone who tells you that moving abroad is puppies and rainbows and butterflies is lyin’ lemme tell ya that right now. There is a ton of red tape to go through when moving abroad. From getting a visa, to getting a residence card, to finding a place to live (in a country that speaks a different language), to setting up your cell phones, signing up with a new bank, to even figuring out mail delivery…that routine we talked about earlier is completely left in the dust. Sometimes this can be frustrating. But in those moments of frustration we’ve had, we’ve always reminded ourselves that it really is a learning process. SO cheesy, I know. But it’s true. It’s definitely made me a more patient person. And at the end of the day, when you come out of the other side of all of the red tape (somewhat) unscathed, you’ll truly be able to celebrate!

MAKING FRIENDS WILL BE DIFFICULT

Can we all just agree that making friends as an adult is so much more difficult than making friends as kiddos? It’s not like you can just walk up to someone and ask if they want to share their blocks with you (actual story of how one of my lifelong friendships started). Particularly when you’re in a country that speaks a different native language than you.

I’m super grateful for Zach’s MBA program which is a huge resource in allowing my to meet some of the loveliest people over here so far, but at the end of the day, you won’t move and have instant friendships. This also has completely pushed me outside of my comfort zone (I truly think I’m an introverted extrovert) and when you’re not only in a city, but a country, where you truly don’t know a soul, it definitely pushes you out of said comfort zone. So odd in the day and age we live in, but I’ve met friends through Instagram and Ex-Pat Facebook groups that have been wonderful! It’s also made me even more grateful for the friendships in my life. Thank the dear Lord for things like WhatsApp that help me stay in touch with everyone! 

YOU’LL SPEND A TON OF MONEY

Time to get real. Zach and I are huge budgeters, and definitely saved every penny for this move. It was still a bit of a sticker shock how much it actually cost to get here. From the visa process and paperwork (including a flight and stay in San Francisco) to essentially replacing all of your belongings, it adds up verrrry quickly. It’s 100% worth it, but just a fair warning. We all know moving in general is always a pretty penny, and moving over seas amplifies that quite a bit. So save up those pennies, because I promise ya, it will be so worth it! 

YOUR STEREOTYPES WILL BE BUSTED

THIS. Speaking of being honest, as much as we try not to, sometimes as human beings we have preconceived notions of how people, or places, might be. Moving here has completely thrown that out the window. Not only have we learned so much (and again, are still learning everyday) about the culture here in Barcelona, but meeting people from all over the world has been something that’s definitely made an impact on us. The other night we had dinner with new friends who hail from all over the world like India, China, Brazil and the UK. What?! It was, and is, such a cool experience, and something we likely wouldn’t ever have, had we not moved here and were forced to break out of our comfort zones to meet new people. 

IT’LL BE THE BEST DECISION YOU’VE EVER MADE 

At the end of the day, moving abroad has been the best decision we’ve ever made. The decision to stop sitting on our dreams, to stop staying “maybe one day we’ll move abroad” and turning our dreams, into a plan, has been beyond worth it. Sometimes, I’ll be walking down the street, fresh off of working at a coffee shop in a neighborhood that is hundreds of years old, and I just have to stop and pinch myself. Because it’s seriously so surreal to me that this is now our life. All of the learning curves we’ve been on, or little frustrations we have, are so minor. If you’ve ever had a though that moving abroad is something you want to do, I’ve got one piece of advice for you:

DO. IT.

The experiences we’ve had in the few months we’ve been here are already ones I know I will always cherish for the rest of our lives, and I can’t wait to see what the next years here hold!

Have you ever thought about moving abroad? What’s holding you back? Or, do you think we’re totally crazy for makin’ this jump? 😉 

The comments +

  1. silvia cosma

    October 5th, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I loved your post- honestly clicked on it as an expat myself, to see if I could relate. And all I can say is: Yep, completely! Moving abroad has been at times tough, at times exhilarating, humbling but also exciting. And it’s 100% something I couldn’t imagine my life without now.

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