Friday, Five Lessons I Learnt When Moving Abroad

moving abroadI have moved over 20 times in 7 different countries and I’ve had occasions where people come to me and ask me for moving abroad or going away on a internship/exchange tips and I realised I made a lot of mistakes – which I’ve learned from. For the real deal I suggest you take a look at what’s out there, like this infograph/checklist, but if you want to know the things I learned the hard way then keep on reading.

Before moving to Germany back in 2007 I forgot to cancel my my library pass and they kept sending reminders to my old address and e-mails to my OLD e-mail – you know the CupOfTea@email type of account you haven’t used since you were 16? Thank god they understood the situation and everything was cleared out. Good for me, because one does not want to be on the blacklist of the Association of Libraries.
Lesson Learned: MMake sure you check your e-mail, but most importantly cancel all your subscriptions; also, beware libraries!.

When I went to Melbourne for my 6 months internship I forgot to let my bank know that I was going away outside Europe and when I was stuck in the transfer hall in Ghuangzou airport I couldn’t take any cash out and buy one of those mega Toblerones that I was in desperate need of.
Lesson Learned: Contact your bank and explain that you’ll be abroad for a while, and pack extra Toblerones.

Minutes after arriving in Finland in the the middle of winter I soon realized I was under-dressed. I though “ah well, it’s the end of January so winter should be over and I can bring my Chucks and a lighter jacket.” Why, Tea? I still don’t know! And that was one of the few times my intuition left me. So, from now on I make sure to triple check the weather conditions and ask a local if possible. It’s better to have a base and shop for additional clothes instead of the other way around.
Lesson Learned: Do check the weather and bring the essentials; chucks are not invincible.

When the seasons change I get this light rash on a bit of my face and there is just one cream type that helps against it. It’s not something I think about but when you are on the other side of the world and you realised it’s about to come you do start to panic. As it isn’t something I bought at the pharmacy but at one of those vague nature stores I had no idea what it was, I tried different things from the pharmacy but it just didn’t help and my lips looked like Heath Ledger as the Joker in the The Dark Knight.
Lesson Learned: Find out what the local names and equivalents are for any ‘medication’ you need; the joker is not a good look.

Almost two years ago I left Netherlands to make it in media capital London, I figured I could hunt from there, but it’s more credible to do it from London. Plus there was something freeing to just pack my suitcase and go to a place without anything set. I had a place to stay for a few months, but no job … I hate to admit that I underestimated the job hunt (in my work of field) and it took me ages and lots of overworking, stress and being underpaid to do what I am doing now.
Lesson Learned:Create some kind of income source BEFORE you leave your home country, or win the lottery..

Do you have any moving abroad lessons you learned the hard way?

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  1. Yes, scan all of your important documents before leaving! Doing university applications for Germany while living in Paris and having all of my awards certificates in California is an almost f%$^%ng nightmare!!

  2. I could completely relate to a lot of these! I moved to Doha to be closer to my other half and was jobless for 3 months which made me miserable and I felt like a pretty worthless human being for a while. I would have immersed myself into the country and culture and finding new people rather than wallowing and pining for home if I did it again! I also forgot to do all the life admin things like paying off bills and changing addresses which is still causing issues 1.5 years later!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

  3. What a useful post! 🙂 I moved from Belgium to Montenegro and I’ve learned that it’s better to deal with everything when you’re still there then later here with your embassy .. I still haven’t fixed everything after 2 years so that’s a lesson I learned the hard way. Love! x

  4. My mom lived in Japan for 6 months, and Japanese doesn’t have letters like English does, they have.. sounds. Her name is Pamela, but there are no Japanese “letters” for Pamela, so she decided to change her name to PamooBaka, only to find out that Pamoo means curly hair and Baka means crazy, and her hair is curly, so everyone laughed at her all the time for calling herself crazy.. She then changed her name to Pamara. Basically just make sure to check if your name has a weird meaning in foreign languages..

  5. Yes to all of these things! I’ve only moved countries once, but have moved flats at least five times during my 8 year stint in London … changing addresses is ALWAYS a pain. I always leave ONE thing off … I’m sure someone’s getting a magazine subscription somewhere with my name on it!