Moving abroad can be both an exhilarating as well as an intimidating endeavor that changes many things in your life.
After our most recent move to and from California, we sat down and took stock: after this eighth (and final?) move, what are the things that changed; that impacted us to such a degree that our lives were forever altered?
As we look back, these are the top five things that changed forever for us ... but I am sure you will be able to draw some parallels to your own life - whether you are a mover or a traveler or a temporary visitor.
1. Your view on the world changes
The minute you move to a new country, immerse yourself in a new culture, and
meet new people, your horizon broadens. Whether you like it or not. You step out of your familiar comfort zone and start collecting new experiences along the way, like little pebbles on the beach. And when you embrace this new beginning with an open mind and an open heart, your perspective on the world changes - it literally opens up! All of a sudden, you remember to see our world for the vast, beautiful, and diverse planet that it is. You become grateful for being allowed to be living, exploring, experiencing yet another part of it as you wonder about all the other places that are still out there, for you to see. Moving fills up your 'experience jar' and it ignites a fire of curiosity for our planet. I am telling you.
2. You learn, change - and you grow
Whenever you move to a new country, the first few months can be daunting: navigating new customs, cultures, and road systems. But you learn as you go. And you grow as you learn. So be lenient and patient with yourself. During the initial weeks in Southern California, I quickly learned to let go of any expectations of how our new beginning should be like. I consciously stopped rushing to move forward, to settle in quickly. Instead, I allowed us to be shamelessly new. This included asking for help when we needed advice, support, or simple directions. Despite the lightspeed at which new impressions came at us, we quickly learned to walk at our own speed. This life lesson has stuck with us until now: so far, we have kept walking at our own pace. Albeit on another continent, once again.
3. Your friendships change
When we moved away - and in our case, that meant putting a large body of water and a nine-hour time difference between ourselves and the ones we cared about - something interesting happened: friendships changed. We quickly learned who was making an effort to stay in touch (even visiting), and which friendships we had simply outgrown. It is a curious process (like going through your closet to see what still fits) that always ends well: the people who are meant to remain in your life, will always remain. No matter where you live.
4. Your view of home changes
Only when you move abroad do you realize what 'home' actually means to you. Most often, this happens, when you describe it to someone who has never been there. All of a sudden you miss all the things that you used to take for granted, wondering why you never visited X, Y, Z (insert name of place or person here) more. In Southern California, where distances were far, Philip and I vowed to travel throughout all of Germany upon our return to discover all the corners we had not yet seen (but could get easily get to).
5. You take on challenges more readily
When you move abroad you will face challenges and obstacles along the way, that's part of the game. But if you start to regard these challenges and obstacles for what they are (life lessons) the odds will be in your favor. With each lesson, you will learn more about yourself: what is easier for you to handle, what causes you distress? What can you deal with and what triggers you? As you find answers, you will be able to cope more easily, find solutions more readily, and overcome obstacles more quickly. For me, this also meant acknowledging when it was time to ask for help (which I have always been bad at). As it turns out, it is actually allowed, constructive, and yes, sometimes even fun.
There is a number 6 on my list. But as I am writing it down, I am realizing that it requires more room, its own page. So upon completion, I will add it. Stay tuned...
To all those who are finding themselves in the midst of moving: hang in there, you can do it!
To the rest of us who are finding themselves settled (once again): remember to not take the familiar for granted - there is always something to explore. You just need to look a little closer.
Sending love and light,