I bought a one-way ticket to Ecuador and life changed drastically. Here are some of the greatest lessons I learned in moving abroad.
1. Less is more.
You will very quickly realize how much junk you have, and how much it is cluttering your life physically and mentally. Moving abroad forces you to put your life in the number of suitcases you wish to carry solo through international airports. I packed all my things into three suitcases, and learned quickly that even this was too much.
2. Strength comes from facing the unknown.
I always thought of myself as a strong woman, but found myself with many vulnerabilities once I was living abroad. Traveling the world, no problem. Knowing that the big change was permanent brought out many of my weaknesses. I am proud to say, however, that strength continued to build day by day as I faced the unknown, confronted things that made me uncomfortable, and overcame fears that made me feel powerful.
3. Starting everything new doesn’t have to suck.
The thought of building a new life is daunting, but when you think about it it can actually be pretty cool. Of course, making new friends and family to make your new placement feel like home is the biggest hurdle. But, you also get to break bad habits and create new ones. You get to explore new daily routines and what you actually like, versus what became habitual in your past. If you want it to be, starting everything new can be cleansing and refreshing.
4. Money won’t buy happiness.
Moving abroad very quickly helped me realize that money won’t buy happiness. After escaping the rat race of DC and the high cost of living, I came to Ecuador with no job security. The salary I make now is about one quarter of what I was making during graduate school, but right now that doesn’t really matter. I live comfortably. Some of my best memories are passing days that require no money whatsoever. Nature <3
5. There is never a reason to rush.
One of the greatest lessons I learned after I moved abroad was how to slow down. In the states I ways always on the go. Always. While I enjoyed the fast pace of life, I also realized how a rushed lifestyle makes you miss so much. Here I remember to breathe, I remember to cherish moments over accomplishments, and I remember how to take a day and make the most of it. Learning how to live without plans has been a life-changing lesson.
6. Taking care of yourself feels awesome.
Its the best. Moving abroad was definitely a selfish choice. I made the decision for me because I thought it was the best for me and my future. It brought me joy, love, and adventure. Being here has let me take care of me myself and I. Of course there are days where I indulge in all things sweet and greasy, but I have also built up great self-care habits like hiking, running and yoga.
7. Love deeply.
I’ve learned how to give it my all. While this mostly has to do with my partner and our relationship, in my time abroad I’ve learned how to be embarrassingly honest. I’ve learned what it means to love with all my heart, without fear, in two languages.
8. Culture shock is a real thing.
The waves of culture shock are totally real. As frustrating as they are, be patient and take them for what they are. Battle your homesick by embracing your new home for all the greatness that it is.
9. Your true friends will always be there.
The fear of missing out will happen. Just like you, your friends will continue to live their lives and likely become closer in doing so. Just like you, they will make new friends and embark on new adventures. The lesson I’ve learned is that true friends will always be there. True friends will call. You will turn to them in good and bad times, just like always, and you will talk real shit, as well as the silly talks. Once you see each other again, you will scream for joy and pick up as though no time passed by.
10. You will change whether you wanted to or not.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t changed after living abroad. Change is a healthy part of life, but you will be pushed into it if you decide to live abroad. Whether it is through my increased level of confidence, my expression of vulnerability, or my ability to communicate better, there is no doubt that I’ve changed. I can’t hide that my priorities for life have changed, because they have. So long American Dream, hello 100% unknown future.
Above anything I’ve learned to cherish moments in time with those you love. I’m learning to let go of fears, become more assertive, and always keep my eyes open for new opportunities and experiences.
What lessons have you learned in making a big move? Comment below 🙂