Making a long-term move abroad is a frightening thing, only more so if you have never done a great deal of traveling before. Entering a foreign world with unknown traditions, unfamiliar people, and without knowing what your new life will be like can feel like diving head first into a pool of unknown depth.
Many people will subscribe to the theory that you will never feel entirely ready to make the move, and you should just do it. That is not necessarily something I agree with. When I made my move, I fell into the camp of people who had never done any significant traveling before going abroad. I will not act like there were no nerves, but I did feel comfortable about the decision I was making.
Returning home after two years of travel, I was aware of the possibility that the comforts of home might display a greater appeal than they had previously and I would be tempted to make a permanent move back to the States, but after spending a few weeks with a world that has been, and will always be familiar to me, I’m feeling ready to continue my life abroad.
From these two experiences, I have been able to recognize some signals that can provide the certainty required to make the move abroad:
1, Exploring Options – Some may believe the best choice is to pick a place and go. I’m sure this is a method that has worked for some, but the impulsive nature of it increases the chances of difficulties abroad, thus increasing the chances of a hurried retreat home. Thoroughly exploring your options will take more time, give you a better idea of the places you would enjoy, while also informing you of the things you should expect. If you don’t have the patience to explore at least a few options, chances are, you are not really committed to the idea of being in a foreign country.
2. Boredom in Familiarity – Before my move abroad, I had lived in the same general area for the first 23 years of my life. No amount of time can guarantee boredom with an area nor is any amount required to provide it. Some are content staying in the same area their whole lives, and that’s great. But, if you are to the point of frustration with the familiarity in your world then a small change of scenery, such as moving to a different state or county, might not be enough. This could signal a need for a more dramatic change.
3. Interest in Immersion – The dramatic change of moving abroad is not something I would suggest for someone who is interested in tourism and sightseeing. You don’t need a long period of time to see some sights and monuments. But, if you are interested in exploring things unknown, finding hidden gems, experiencing local cultures, and learning new languages you are likely more fit for a longer period of time in a foreign land.
4. Identifying Deterrents – What exactly are the reasons that you are nervous about going abroad? If it has something to do with your financial situation then, usually, there are ways to take care of that. You can find employment abroad depending on your educational background and you can gain the necessary qualifications to be paid well enough to create a sustainable life-style abroad. If your issues have more to do with your attachment to your family, friends, and the discomfort in being separated from them, you might have a more legitimate concern to address. With that said, it is important to state that any deterrents can be eased if you have the desire to do so.
5. Tending Towards the Foreign – This may be one of the more obvious signs, but it deserves mentioning. If you find your interests lay in foreign music, foreign languages, sports that are more popular in other countries, or foreign culture in general, it may be a worthwhile experience for you to get first hand experience with some of those things that attract you. It could be that you enjoy these things because they are kept at a distance and you may want to keep them that way, but that is for you to decide. It would be valuable to look at how many of these interests you have, and how strong they are to evaluate how relevant they are.
I have seen many people move abroad and either return home quickly or, even worse, be miserable with their entire experience. This is not a comprehensive guide to promise you will be successful moving abroad and should not be used as the primary decision maker, but it can be a useful tool in providing confidence. If you can look at these questions and evaluate how they apply to you, you can build the confidence necessary in making a successful move abroad. It is a change that has proved rewarding for me well beyond what I had thought possible. Good luck in your decision. Peace be the journey.