Depending on how you move abroad and how much preparation you have done prior, your experience might differ from mine and many who have gone through this in a similar way. But nevertheless, everyone who has moved abroad sure had some difficulties here and there. You see their instagram feed, their blog, their Facebook, their Twitter and wherever else you can follow your friend’s or anyone’s process and story of moving abroad. And let me guess? It all looks sunshine and rainbows. Let me be honest too: I posted the good stuff on my feed as well. But the reality is, all of us expats, family of expats and close friends of them could tell you that it takes a ton of hard days when one moves abroad. So in this post, let me share a few difficulties I have gone through when I moved to Amsterdam.
Come to the dark side – I have hard facts.
Finding a Job
If you haven’t searched for jobs online before your arrival, if you don’t have higher education like vocational school or university for better paid jobs, or you have no idea about how the employing situation in the city/town you move to is, chances are high that it will take you longer to find a job. My experience has shown that Amsterdam is easier, it’s not that difficult to get a job, but if you are like me, and you start off first with enjoying the city and country like a traveler, you will regret to have some wasted time and wasted money (both very important). If you had the guts to pack a suitcase and take the first step to moving abroad, you can be as determined in finding a job to make a living. In your first weeks already!
I might have been a little too easy with it, too trusting. I thought I’d find a job very easy so I can enjoy some time before launching into work life (advice: you can do that after too). But in the end it cost me a lot of money, mostly because of my next point.
If you are not careful, your saved up money will be gone in a short time. Don’t do hotels/hostels for too long. I guess this might also depend on the country, as in some places it might be pretty cheap, but still, it will steal yo money! In my case, Amsterdam has been very hard on me. It is not very easy to find an apartment or room here but in any case and any country, I would recommend to join all the Facebook groups for eager accommodation seekers as yourself and always have an eye out. I don’t know about groups for other cities, but many people will likely comment and message the person very fast. You might have to keep up with that.
Another option to go with in the beginning is Airbnb. If you can rent a place for your first month or more, it will help you save money. Besides, if you have a kitchen, you won’t have to spend money on eating out! It’s time to grow up, kid!
P.S.: Beware of scammers!
Yes. I remember lying in a bed in a hostel feeling so down I let people create doubts in me. They said ‘Why don’t you come back and look for something here?’, ‘You could do cool things here too.’ . I remember because I felt so bad and full of doubt I even felt it physically. I thought maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be here.
As strong-willed and positive you might be about your decision to go and live in another country, there will probably be times where you are lying in bed or sitting at a bar wondering if you’ve done the right thing. Maybe it is in the midst of still looking for a job. Perhaps you still haven’t found an apartment or room. Or it could be you realized it is not easy. And you know what? It’s part of your growth. It’s part of you fighting for what you want. When things are not easy, life challenges you to step over, or if necessary climb over the obstacle that wears you down.
Who said moving abroad would be easy? Maybe it’s easy if you have money and can afford everything in the first month, settle down, settle in. But does it change you? Did it challenge you to mold into the country, the new lifestyle? Did it shape you? Let yourself be shaped and don’t give up. If it helps, wake up earlier and make yourself remember why you went there. Talk more. See more. Walk that extra mile. Fight to stand up from bed. Your bed is not going to bring you anywhere, only to the thought that maybe you should go home. And if that is not what you want, if you know you’ll regret going back, then make it work to stay.
Making new friends
You read it right. Maybe you are a 100% extrovert and won’t agree with me. This point is not necessarily a negative one, though it might appear exhausting to some people. Either way it’s good to keep it in mind. I myself am closer to ambivert than introvert or extrovert, but I have a past of not often being the first one to approach a person. Talking, and I’m thinking more of small-talk, has not always been a strength of mine. I think moving abroad, moving to such a lively and active city like Amsterdam has improved my social skills considerably. If you’ve traveled to the city/town before, where you intend to live now/soon, it might have come easy to make a few friends already. Now you face it a little bit different though. You are not only preoccupied with settling down there, you (probably) also want some support in form of friends.
Don’t give up!
These are not the only possible difficulties one can face when moving abroad. And I can only share about my experience from moving to a different country within Europe. I can imagine that moving to Africa or Asia and places that bring more changes and new circumstances could be even harder. The points mentioned above are more general and what one would think of first when asked what the challenging parts of going abroad were. In any way, if you’ve decided to take that step, or already have, let me encourage you. You came this far already. Why stop? Unless there is a grave reason for you to give up – don’t. I’ve felt so down in my second and third week in Amsterdam and today it’s 5 months ago that I moved to the Netherlands. And I couldn’t be happier about it.
Cherish the difficulties and challenges because they will bring you further. Overcome fear and yourself and stand firm in your decision. It will be worth it and after a while things will settle down. I know that one probably knows that. We know that it will not always be this hard. But when you are in a ‘low’, it’s not so easy to focus on a promising future. Moving abroad brings so much growth and cultural exchange. Surround yourself with people who support you. Don’t linger on conversations with those who question your decisions and tell you all the negative scenarios that could come from your situation. And if that negativity is produced by your own mind, train yourself. Because this, too, is part of your growth.
Above all, be excited. Be happy. Be free. Build a life you will not need to escape from. It will not be difficult to see a trip to the supermarket as an adventure. Everything is so new. Everything can have its thrill. You may feel like you’re walking around wonderland but most likely, the journey there, until you have settled down and have more peace and rest, will take some time. I urge you to be patient. It’s worth the hard work and wait, the sweat and stress, the tears and missing of your family/friends. I can tell you it will be rewarded. And when it’s there, when you feel that things have calmed down, yourself included, embrace the privileged life you can live now. Appreciate and be yourself!