On Living Abroad


Every time in the past when I shared my decision to move abroad (to Vienna, to Vancouver, to Berlin) people would ask me "why?". Realizing that answering with a simple "because" wouldn't suffice, I tried to explain this type of wanderlust that I felt. Not the kind of wanderlust that makes you want to take a two-week vacation to 'sniff up' (that's Dutch) some culture, but the kind where you feel antsy to pack up & go live somewhere else entirely.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with comfort zones. I crave, or long for, comfort, but the second I reach a certain level I only feel discomfort. Does that sound weird? Maybe. It's hard to explain.

The thing I have noticed about the topic 'moving abroad' is that many people dream about it, but very few actually follow through. Some want it so badly, but they seem to have a hard time justifying this "crazy" idea. And that's just it... people think it's a crazy thing to do. Cool, but also most definitely cray.

While that opinion from the people around me always affected me in a way (as in: am I really that crazy?), at the same time it also pushed me to follow through. Because I wanted to, but also because it is motivating when other people admire your guts.

Speaking of... It does take courage to move. The last full day in Vancouver I ran into a friend at one of my favourite coffee shops and she commented that she couldn't believe how calm I was. On the outside? Sure. On the inside? Madness. My head was one big to-do list of last-minute errands and, honestly, that was a good thing, because it kept me from overthinking my decision and creating doubts in regard to my sanity. Plus, I am really really bad at goodbyes.

Most people think about either the practical hassle (immigration, canceling your lease, quitting your job) or the fact that they will miss their family, friends, routine... and they think those are the biggest obstacles. And while you certainly will have to tackle these things, they have never been the parts that intimidated me most.

The part that I find the most scary about moving to a new country is also the most exciting, rewarding, "this is what you do it for" part of the whole adventure. The fact that you have basically no idea what's ahead of you. That you (in my case) don't know what your job will be, where you will live, what it will be like to live in the new city... no idea at all.

I am the type of person that tries to picture everything (to a fault), and makes the big mistake of having very detailed expectations. So naturally these adventures are out of my comfort zone, which sucks. And are great at the same time. Because in order to continuously improve yourself, you need to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. It gives you personality and it gives you an edge. Like I mentioned in last year's life lesson post: getting out of your comfort zone really is the best thing you can do for yourself.

And instead of letting other people project their fears on you and starting to doubt yourself, you should grab those doubts and punch them in the face. Own those doubts and turn them into an asset. At the end of the day, it's conquering your fears (and realizing they're 'whatever') that makes you feel awesome. And THAT should be the reason why you move abroad.