Things that I wish someone had told me about living abroad

After living abroad for 9 years, having left Brazil when I was only 9 years old, it’s safe to say that I might know a thing or two about the things to expect whenever you move abroad. People seem to glorify what living abroad is like, but the truth is that yes, living abroad is fantastic, but no one ever seems to tell you the down sides of living abroad – and  will tell you what the biggest 5 things for me.

1) Your family will be devastated.

Yes, your family will be happy for you that you will be getting out there, trying new things, meeting new people, having a new adventure and possibly having a better future – but they will also be devastated. You know those times that you sometimes feel homesick and lonely? Well, for close family members it can feel like that all the time, because you’re not there. Most of the time they won’t admit it because they don’t want to spoil your happiness, but they do miss you. And it will break their heart every time you don’t go home. My family for example, I can always hear the disappointment in their voices when I say something along the lines of “I really want to go, but I just can’t do it this year”. And no, it’s not just me making excuses for not going back, it’s just that I genuinely can’t go. But the people who suffer most in that really are the ones that are waiting for you to return, even if it’s just for a visit.

2) Home? Where is home?

After a while living abroad you begin to mix up where home is. After all, where is home? After living in England with my mum and little sister for 9 years, with my uncle and aunts living in countries in Europe as well, with all of my friends – here kind of feels like home. But then Brazil will always be home for me too. After a while you just don’t really have a home. You’re kind of like a nomad, a wonderer that has many homes, but doesn’t have one place where you can genuinely think ‘Yeah, this is definitely home.’ But I guess it’s a lot easier if you have family with you/near you, because that will make any place feel more homely.

3) It gets lonely sometimes.

Once you move abroad by yourself you will feel lonely sometimes. Even though you will most likely meet loads of new people and make new friends, nothing will be able to truly replace your old friends or/and your family. There will be times where all you will want is someone who knows you and understands you, but the new people in your life will most likely not know you and your life like the people you left behind.

4) You watch your life pass by.

Birthdays will come and go, relationships will begin and end, there will be marriages, deaths and everything else in between, and you will only see it from a distance. One of the down sides of living abroad is being away from the ones you love like I’ve mentioned before, but one of the things people seem to forget is that with being away from the ones you love, you’ll also be away from all of those special occasions.

5) You will lose dear friends and fall out with people who you love.

Yeah, we all know it isn’t your intention. Living far away is hard. But like I said in my previous point, when you move abroad you will miss out on so much!  Your good friends will accept and understand your absence in all of those important dates, but they won’t wait forever you.  Other people may not be so accepting and understanding, and this can cause some tension. There is also a strong chance that you will eventually drift away from those dear friends, it most likely won’t be intentional, and you probably won’t even notice it’s happening, but there’s a strong chance that it will happen.


One thought on “Things that I wish someone had told me about living abroad

  1. So true Sue….was speaking to my daughter this morning and she alluded to the same feelings (ergo engaged/disengaged) a kind of “Limbo”. This as a precursor to a short trip back to her life in the UK.
    Quite emotional really. Take care….magnus


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