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5 Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

If moving abroad were easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

With only about 35% of the American populace holding passports, I think it’s safe to say that most of our knowledge of the big wide world comes from the idiot box and the internet, not from firsthand experience.

Personally, I cannot STAND it when people make incorrect assumptions about other countries. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I have made it my life mission to encourage and help as many people, especially young people and women, to travel the world and move abroad. Hence this massive, rather long-winded blog.

Whether it’s from movies, books or TV, I feel like the image of “the rest of the world” and “moving abroad” has become so idealized and misconstrued in American media today that it’s no longer relevant to the actual experience.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Whenever I tell people I lived in Spain or I’m moving abroad (big announcement soon guys!) I generally get the half-assed “Oh that’s so nice! You’re so lucky; you’re going to have the time of your life, and maybe you’ll fall in love” response. Ok, have you met me? I’m a walking-talking disaster! No one in their right mind would call me lucky and the day I have a successful international relationship is the day pigs fly.

And secondly, the next person who tells me I’m going to fall in love abroad is going to get smacked, family members included. What makes people think that going abroad is equal to a young woman searching for love, and what makes you think it’s socially acceptable to say that to my face? Hey, what about me?! Can’t I just go abroad for myself? I’m only 24 damnit! All I want is to see the world, maybe make out with some cute boys, sleep under the stars, drink whiskey with cool people and have adventures and write about it later. Is that asking too much?

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

We get so caught up in the “American Dream” of finding the perfect 9 to 5 job, the perfect husband, the perfect house with a white picket fence, two cars and 2.5 kids that we forget that there is an entire WORLD out there to explore! For all you young’uns out there, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You only have one chance to be young, don’t throw it away.

I don’t know anyone who has regretted moving abroad but I know plenty who have regretted staying behind.

But I’ve waxed poetic enough about why I think everyone and their mother should move abroad right this instant. This post is about myths and breaking down the facts about living overseas for you guys, something I’m painfully good at.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

1. The movies got it all wrong

From watching the Olsen twins frolic around Paris on VHS to Diane Lane getting romanced after buying a villa in Tuscany, my generation was raised on glamorized half-truths and idealized travel experiences. No matter how many times I’ve been to Rome, I have never met my pop start doppelganger and been invited to sing on stage in the Coliseum like Lizzy McGuire. Damn you Disney!

Moving abroad is hard; it’s challenging, and you don’t always find what you are looking for. Modern media has romanticized traveling and living overseas, making it seem both effortless and easy, when in reality, it can be the biggest pain in the ass. The movies rarely talk about the hard times, and they make it look so effortless when the reality is far from rainbows and unicorns.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

From sorting out residency papers and visas (the bane of my existence in Spain) to negotiating rent and setting up a bank account, nothing is simple, easy or familiar while transitioning abroad. While these daily occurrences are glossed over on film, they are all part of the experience and make it all the sweeter. I always likened them to personal challenges. Liz – 1, Spanish post office worker – 0, winning.

So for all the people who think moving abroad is a piece of cake or a long-term vacation, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a daily battle that almost always leaves you questioning – is this what I really want? while crying on the Madrid metro and stuff your depressed face with Kinder Bueno bars.

But if it is, then all the challenges that go into moving abroad make the experience all the more rewarding and memorable. There is not a movie out there that can truly capture just how amazing it is to have that experience under your belt because, it’s one of those “you really have to be there” moments.

These are the best moments you can have while traveling, spending the day with new local friends and laughing, getting invited to a family dinner, becoming part of your new community. Moving abroad is so much more than a new country, a place to tick off of a bucket list. It’s about the experiences you have and the people you meet. Don’t forget that getting caught up in the glamor of it all.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

2. Get rid of all your crap

I’m totally serious – you’ll thank me later; burn it, sell it, or throw it in storage, but whatever you do, try to keep the stuff you bring with you to a minimum. It took me several years, and several international moves abroad to realize that less really is more.

With hundreds of books in my collection and a penchant for high heels, if I can travel light, by god anyone can. A huge part of moving abroad is about integrating. You can buy clothes and bath products in your new country, don’t waste all your luggage space on 10 pairs of jeans and hair products.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Do you really need to pack everything you own? Do you need to bring a pillow with you? Can you not buy shampoo wherever you’re going?

One of my favorite things about Spain was the shopping! They have great stuff for so much cheaper than the US. I always had more problems going home, trying to bring home all the stuff I bought during sales and smuggle in cheap wine and Spanish ham, than when I moved over in the first place.

Whether you are moving abroad for six months or six years, the less shit you bring with you, the better. Trust me on this one.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

3. Learning another language is not easy

Before I moved to Spain, I thought I knew Spanish. What a joke!

Aside from the fact that America has just about the worst teaching foreign language methodology I’ve ever experienced, no two ways about it, you won’t become fluent until you move abroad.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Even that isn’t enough. I’ve known plenty of Americans in Spain who get by speaking English and put in zero effort to learning Spanish. You have to try, really try; commit to it and make it a priority and it will happen. Live with locals, join a club, go out frequently, make a fool of yourself with locals. You will never learn to speak a language well from a book, you will only learn by practicing. Drink a beer first; it helps.

When I first moved to Spain in 2007, I was so shy. It took half a year for me to come out of my shell, and look at me now! I can’t shut up – in English or Spanish! The day I won an argument with my Spanish roommates in April 2011 about kitchen duties was a sweet, sweet day for me.

But don’t delude yourself. You have to make the effort if you want to learn another language when moving abroad. Don’t just think it’ll happen.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

4. It’s ok to hate your adopted country

Don’t shoot the messenger! God knows I will never hear the end of writing a negative post about Spain. I’ve been called many nasty things in my 3 years blogging, but one of the worst ones was somehow being “ungrateful” for Spain.

Really? Have you read my blog?

Let me fill you in on another little secret; you are allowed to get mad, pissed and even hate your new country now and then. It’s like a relationship really. Don’t bottle in your feelings, otherwise they will boil over and explode, and that just never ends well. Ever.

You are allowed to have a complex range of emotions when you straddle two different worlds. That’s a normal part of moving abroad – there are even studies on it! For me, the hardest part of living abroad was feeling like I belonged neither here nor there. I would get mad at Spain and I would get mad the US, and I felt like I was in limbo.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Sometimes shit happens when you live abroad. Sometimes nothing happens for a long time and you are really happy, and then suddenly it all sneaks up on you at once and attacks you. From fighting with the immigration officers, to my coworkers, to even doctor’s office, Spain always tested my patience. Hell, I am STILL fighting with them now! In December, my best friend mailed me home all my favorite books from Spain, and well, they lost them and have no idea where they are. And not only did they lose them, they are making my friend go through a rat race in Spain trying to even talk with the right person who can help! And I can’t do anything since I’m in the US and the Spanish post office phone number is a paid line unrecognized by Skype. Really Spain?

Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. I love Spain, I really do. At the end of the day, I would go through hell and back to live there. And that’s how I know I can complain about it here and there; it’s like venting to a friend. It’s when your hate for a country bubbles up so much that you become negative and bitter is when you should start thinking about moving home. I didn’t even think about moving home til I was warned by a lawyer that I could be forcibly deported and banned from Europe if I didn’t leave.

Now that’s love.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

5. Travel changes you

People always talk about “finding yourself” or “going on a journey to self-discovery” as a reason for traveling, and as much as I think it’s way overplayed nowadays, I can understand where people are coming from. After all, Eat, Pray, Love was popular for a reason.

People  usually say that traveling or living abroad was the best time of their life and you should go too, Listen.

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

Travel does change you, for better or worse. Moving abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it has helped shaped and continues to shape who I am today. It has taught me many lessons and has encouraged me to be independent, responsible, have respect, and above all, APPRECIATE the people and the world around me. Struggling to learn another language, to adapt to a different culture with a different set of rules and learning the difference between fiction and reality – those are the lessons that stay with you, that shape you, that change you.

Have you ever lived abroad? For you, what is something no one ever told you about moving abroad?

Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

434 Responses to 5 Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad

  1. ejl November 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Great blog! I moved to Canada from England this year and can completely relate. Awesome.

    • Stacey Jefferson October 3, 2016 at 10:11 am #

      Can i ask how you moved to Canada from England? And, what you needed? I’m trying to move to Canada too! But, i have no clue what i actually need to get to where i want to be.

  2. hannah November 17, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Hahaha such a cool post and SO true !!!

  3. Janelle December 3, 2014 at 4:16 am #

    Hello Liz! I came across your blog a few months ago, looked at it once or twice and since then, I have moved abroad to Spain and started my own travel company. I came across your blog again as I was checking my email and now I visit you every week. You have been a truly inspiring force and I just wanted to say thanks!

  4. zela December 5, 2014 at 3:41 am #

    I love this post! and i wish I’ll experience this too soon! i’ll share you my experience living abroad.

    I can say I love to travel, though I haven’t gone to any countries aside from my homeland and Japan. I totally agree with you that living abroad will change you anddd learning foreign language is really hard and frustrating! i thought first, since i know to read basic japanese, the language will follow. Boy i was wrong. even asking for directions will drive me crazy! didn’t have a club to join and since im just 18 to explore things and totally broke. really. and finding a decent work if u dont speak their language is so haaaaard. And I’m fat, *noone likes you when you’re fat southeast asian and living in japan, seriously. im size 8and1/2, and im too fat for them. i feel like a whale strolling around tokyo whenever i go alone.

    living here for almost 2years, I can say your experience and other american, european and russians if will travel here in japan, is far different for a southeast asian traveler. I love japan really, but at the same time, i hate it. they will ignore you if you’re not tall enough or blonde enough or have those green or blue eyes. they will not entertain you, tho not all of them, but majority like, 90%. even i go to japanese language school the treatment is far more different. sometimes this makes me wanna come home. but when i think aboutt it, experience good or bad will make you grow and understand some things. you’ll have more patience, maybe gain a friend or two. and you’ll have some adventure stories to share with your future kids & grandkids. *sigh. hope i can travel more.

  5. Gabriela December 9, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I was excited to come across your article. I too am a woman who traveled alone. Your story brought back many memories of my twenties during which I lived abroad in three different countries. People always ask if I felt safe traveling alone as a woman but sad to say I’ve always felt safer abroad than here in the US. Traveling is fun but I really enjoyed living day to day in a different country and figuring it all out. As with life in general it has it’s ups and downs which for me felt more intense since you are far from home, friends, family, and all that is familiar. The one thing that does bother me even now when I talk about my experiences is when people comment that you are lucky, like some how all this just happened to you. I worked at home each time and saved all my money before leaving on travels, not buying much and not spending much to go on my trips. I did study abroad in college in Mexico city for a year, I think study abroad should be a college requirement. You learn so much from travel, experiencing other cultures, and being around other travelers. After college I did the BUNAC work abroad program which I highly recommend in both England and Australia. Traveling abroad is something I can’t live without and contrary to what some might say, it actually makes me appreciate where I was born and live that much more.

  6. Samantha December 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Brilliant article. Very realistic and informative. This would really help those who are planning to move. Yes, its true that moving can be stressful but if you can have someone who will oversee the shipment of your good, it would be a lot easier. International removal company can help arrange your move and can answer regarding your queries about documents required, stuff that you should leave behind and things that you can bring abroad.Requesting for a free quote would help you plan your budget.

  7. Abigale Jones December 18, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    I want to move to Australia and I really needed article just like this one. I love the way it is writte- attractive and interesting! Thank you for sharing!

  8. patrice January 12, 2015 at 3:29 am #

    Planning a move too the Uk in the next couple of years. This was the first article i read and it was a great help. Thanks!

  9. Jody February 10, 2015 at 4:44 am #

    Traveling has made me long to leave the US…where it seems like no one ever gets much opportunity for vacations or travel! I find I have less and less in common with the folks from home. No one ever wants to hear about my latest trip since most people get only 2-3 weeks vacation.

    I have found that traveling opened my mind to so much, but also made me more angry about the state of things in the US (not good–the country is falling apart and there are SO many problems–health care, etc.!) It saddens me because I have this wonderful opportunity to travel while so many others don’t. I realize the myriad ways the US is lagging behind many countries. The world has so much to offer and so much to teach us; how sad that more Americans don’t ever get to see it.

    At this time I’m contemplating a move abroad, which realistically could take place in the next year or two. It’s such a hard decision but I’m wondering if I should just go for it?!

    • Nate September 21, 2016 at 6:53 am #

      I am an Australian who moved to the US and I can sympathise with your comment about vacation time 😛

    • Sadie November 15, 2016 at 9:28 am #

      Yes they get a vacation in Europe every time someone sneezes …hahaha not sure where that comparison is going but yea they get crazy vacation time in Europe and when you are from the U.S it is really hard to understand. Its one of the problems I am currently having in connecting with people here in Europe when they complain they can only go to Italy for 5 days instead of 2 weeks because they have to see somewhere else….. 1st world problems. Honestly though as an American you kind of have to make that decision of having a real job= no travel or having a seasonal job and with that you can take travel experiences more often but they certainly make you choose. I am experiencing a little bit of post traumatic moving to another country hate so I am sorry if this message comes off as negative but I do feel a little negative at the moment….

  10. Anonymous March 11, 2015 at 2:05 am #

    I’m from Europe and have lived for a while in North America and afterwards in Australia (shorter stay there).

    The one thing that people haven’t told you it that travels and living abroad don’t actually change your core being, your personnality. You are stuck with that wherever you go. So if by any chance moving around is some kind of attempt at an escape, know it does NOT work.

  11. Stephanie March 30, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Amen to that! Great post and you know how to tell a story! I’ve read the entire post and for me that’s a lot of reading. (English is not my first or second language). I’m also thinking about moving abroad but I have no idea about finding a job in a different country. How do you do it?

    Anyway I love to connect with you. You can find me on


  12. Rob C April 1, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    For years I dreamed of moving to Asia and living there. I had many idea’s of what Asia would be like, and when I turned 30 I quit my job and left. I dreamed of living and working in an exotic place and exploring the countries sites. One of my first things i noticed though is that what i thought asia would be like is way different than what it is. I have been livinging 3 months in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Once you see the sites, in about a week, there isn’t much to do that’s any different than where you came from. You still go to pubs, clubs, shopping, movies, exercise, etc. the same as if you hadn’t left. The prices are cheaper, but so are the wages you make here. Everything is related. The main thing that’s gotten to me is family and friends are all 13000 km away. Every year abroad is a year you have lost with your family. If your not that close and/or don’t mind seeing them every couple of years it wont bother you.

    That being said I don’t regret moving here even after all i’ve said. I needed to come. Otherwise i would sit at my job, at home, dreaming and regretting never experiencing and trying to live what you dream.. i miss family but i don’t have to live abroad forever. I can spend a year or two to experience and travel asia and then go back home. In only three months abroad i have learned many new things, new experiences, sites, and have a new outlook on my life. You will always regret not going. If your nervous about moving think of it as a vacation. Take a leave from work and go there. Spend a few weeks travelling, then get a job, and see. if at the 3 month mark you truly don’t like it, go home and remember your experience. There is no shame in learning you don’t like something, but there is in never even trying. Enjoy.


    • Mb December 18, 2016 at 8:49 am #

      This is not true. Sadly, you chose to change the place but live the same LIFesTYLe, I went from 1 month vacation a year, going to clubs on the weekends and an 8 to 5 job in an office to 365 days a year vacation, waking up whenever I want to and jump into cristal clear warm Caribbean water. I’ve had crazy adventures and now I travel the world from a little island in Panama since I was 27, now I’m 33. Change your lifestyle, not the place

  13. burak April 7, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Hello there,
    I have been feeling and experiencing exactly what is written in this article.I moved to Canada when I was 20 and now I am 25.I just do not know what where my home is now.I have moved maybe 5 times I don`t even exactly remember its number.I was randomly googling stuff and ran into your blog.I`ll definitely visit you every now and then.

    Gracias Liz!


  14. Study Abroad April 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    Such a wonderful experience you share with us ,its really very nice and i hope that everybody will plan to go abroad and change something in your life.As you mention that “finding yourself” or “going on a journey to self-discovery” is very motivational to travel abroad and to learn new lessons,language and so on.

  15. April 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    I am a private lender, I offer loan at 3% this is a legitimate company with honor and difference and we are ready to help you out in any financial problem that you are into. We offer all type of loan so if you are interested in this loan offer kindly contact us

  16. April 12, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    I am a private lender, I offer loan at 3% this is a legitimate company with honor and difference and we are ready to help you out in any financial problem that you are into. We offer all type of loan so if you are interested in this loan offer kindly contact us…….

  17. Paula April 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Dude I love you for pointing out the negative things about Spain. They frustrated the hell out of me! And all I ever hear is how Spain is so great.

    I found your blog because I am interviewing for a job at a technology company in Lisbon. I am OBSESSED with Lisbon. But ever since my stay in Madrid I REALLY appreciate the comfort of America. So thank you, Madrid, for making me love America so much.

    I have a good job here, in Houston, Texas. But like I said I am OBSESSED with Lisbon. What to do.:-/

    • Dom October 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      A great article Liz!
      I know the struggles you face! I live in Australia and for a long time, I wanted to travel but wasn’t quite ready yet. After weighing up the pros and cons, I finally decided to make the move! I’ve started to write about it, too.

    • Mia November 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Paula,

      I live in lisbon and i think that u are right obsessing about lisbon. This is my fav city.
      Everything here is so good, the food, the people, the places, the language.

      It worths move here. Definitely.

  18. Gerhard April 17, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    Liz!! Thank you for this! 🙂 im living in South Africa and im thinking of moving to the Netherlands just because im single and young and like you wanting to explore. For me its a difficult decision to make. Its hard to just leave everything and everyone behind but i always wanted to explore! I have my 2nd stage interview with a company next week and hopefully all goes well. Thanks again you just helped me with my decision.

    • Shae December 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

      Hey Gerhard! I’m actually looking to move to South Africa after I graduate. I currently live in the States, any advice on what to expect? 🙂 I have the heart of a wanderer, and South Africa has always had a place in my heart as my second home since I turned 11.

  19. NormaStitz April 23, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    So it’s not socially acceptable to say you might fall in love? People are gushing over you, and you want to pull a women’s lib PC card out? Really? Shut the fuck up you stupid cunt.

    • Jasmine May 30, 2015 at 4:41 am #

      Really?! The woman expresses her opinion, and you completely destroy her for it, while acting as if feminism is the problem??? YOU are the reason that women need to ‘pull a woman’s lib PC card’ at all. Fuck you.

      ***Liz, I totally understand if you delete my comment or ban me from posting, based on the profanity. I just REALLY a needed to rip this PoS

      • standifs June 12, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

        Jasmine, I highly doubt the woman(?) in question did anything to “destroy” the writer. The only thing she(?) accomplished was to bring tremendous shame to herself, like an unnecessary sequel.

        • HappyWanderer October 23, 2015 at 8:04 am #

          Norma Stitz is a troll and most likely a man, “Norma Stitz” is who a middle schooler would ask for when making a prank call, to get you to say enormous tits (sorry for the crudeness). Don’t even comment on this PoS.
          Welcome back to America Liz, as you can see she’s stayed classy. 😉

      • Breck March 6, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

        Really people ? wipe off your nether regions they appear to be leaking .when people say (or write) things you don’t like, celebrate their ability to say them! Freedom of speech is far more important than your emotional reaction to a dick. Secondly great and interesting advice is hard to come by just enjoy Liz’s blog !

    • Me August 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

      Get councilling.

    • Blue Hassett July 5, 2016 at 10:41 am #

      Norma, I am sure you think you came across sounding confident and all cool.
      I want you to understand Im taking my time to give this input for you. I am doing you a favor. You came across as a young woman who doesn’t have the selfconfidence to be able to complete school or the willingness to work hard at a job and make your own money. Sweetheart you can I promise! Buy your own car your own house and look for a man who has the same deternation that you have. That’s what most men who are doing well and make money are looking for. The day of getting a good man through his stomach is long past. Don’t be ONE of some mans “Babys mommy’s” life is a lot of moments dont spend yours looking to use a man and be satafied with sitting at home and if your goal is to be one of The Women of Atlanta? I’ve wasted my time.

  20. Amy May 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    I can across your post today and your honesty is so refreshing. As I get ready to embark on my first move abroad, I find I am hearing many of the same things as you. “You’re so lucky!” Or “the time of your life…” Yada, Yada, Yada…

    But seriously, your packing advice was awesome. I am staring at what’s in my apartment (only what’s left after selling my home a year ago) and saying I don’t need any of this crap. Off to storage it goes. If after a year I decide not to come back. I’ll sell it all then.

    Also, the paperwork is endless. People really haven’t the slightest clue as to what is involved to move abroad.

    Well it looks as if you are living your #LifeMeant. I would love for you to check out my journey too!

    Kind regards,

  21. Danielle June 17, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    Love this post! I am Canadian and have moved to Scotland about 8 months ago. It wasn’t easy getting here! Paperwork, paperwork, immigration b/s, paperwork!!! I can honestly say I am so thankful everything worked out in the end but it certainly wasn’t a cake walk. After being refused multiple visitor visas for the only reason being “they weren’t satisfied that I would return to Canada after my said duration”. I had a return flight and gave them all the information they needed with no reason to doubt my intent. I don’t have a criminal record, I am not trying to do anything illegal. GRRRRR!!! Had to get an immigration lawyer involved which was a bit pricey but finally sorted things out. Emotional rollercoaster as I was moving over to be with my boyfriend. The long distance thing was way too difficult so it was time to make the big move across the pond. So, well said, to anyone who thinks moving abroad is easy peasy… its not.

  22. Sanne June 18, 2015 at 4:33 am #

    I loved the article! And so true: traveling / moving abroad does really change you… It might not always be easy but in the end it’s a great experience.

  23. Betsy Harrison July 11, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    Love this article! I am going to move to Spain next month. I went to visit my best friend there and I fell in love with this country! I even found a job, so now the only thing I should do is just packing my luggage! Thank you again for the nice tips!

    • Courtney July 18, 2015 at 2:46 am #

      Where did you start that’s where i will be moving im just back from Spain and loved it but I’m so young and don’t know where to start if you have any tips please sen them my way
      Thank you

  24. Courtney July 18, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    I have recently just turned 18 and I’m so miserable where i live it’s Scotland. I’ve been abroad many of times buts it’s mostly been Spain, i love it there.
    I wan to move abroad to Spain on my own i have no the slightest clue where to start someone please help me what do i do first cause i ant to get out of here soon as possible!!

    Kind regards

    Courtney Anderson

    • Aimee August 8, 2015 at 3:19 am #

      I live in Kent and hate it … Il come with you haha! x

    • Araceli November 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      I am thinking of moving to Spain also! I am living in the US. Any tips you may have I would really appreciate it!! 🙂

  25. José July 23, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Grandioso Blog

  26. Tim Potter July 29, 2015 at 5:08 am #

    The most important thing is to have fun. It is what you really wanted to do.

  27. Kayti August 14, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    I leave in exactly three weeks for my first move abroad from Minnesota to London for university next year. And between fighting with my sister over my move to struggling with UK Visa and Immigration to get my passport back in time for my flight, this whole ordeal is already proven to be a struggle. It’s awesome seeing a post like this telling me — You’re fine. Shit happens. It’s worth it.

  28. Philip August 21, 2015 at 3:36 am #

    HELP :/

    I have also come to a decision where I want to leave my country for awhile and either go to the UK, Sweden, Spain or France. I’m 18 but only ever had one job working in retail. How would I get by financially, would I be able to get by from the same kind of jobs overseas or should I study something in university here first in Australia, thinking along the lines of sports related studies.


  29. Giselle September 14, 2015 at 3:27 am #

    This is the most accurate post to describe my life abroad. I live now in Belgium, and coming from Central America to Europe hast been a piece of cake either. Weather I was embarrassed of not knowing how to use trains or trams properly (getting lost from time to time, or boarding first class with a second class ticket) to facing also paper work frustrations.
    I agree to all you say, Kinder Bueno bars are always there for me in the saddest moments.

    But one thing which broke my soul was noticing I didn’t miss many things from home, which made me question my values, my love towards others, my “cold heart” and so on..
    No one told me that the hardest moments would be those in which I am alone, struggling with an empty agenda and lots of destructive and hunting thoughts of “what the hell am I doing here”

    I now struggle with demanding attention from the person closest to me, and getting mad whenever he has other things to do (he has a life, I certainly don’t follow a routine here anymore). Is hard to fit and to find your way around alone and understanding that is also ok and a great life lesson.

    But overall I like to believe am growing, from learning to cook and enjoying groceries day, to be able to be alone and at peace.


  30. Man with Van Haringey Ltd. September 14, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    Fantastic article! Moving abroad is hard, indeed. The movies couldn`t tell you what is going to happen. I had wrong expectations for my moving in Greece. It was way better than most of movies I have watched for this country. Thank you for sharing your experience. Best regards!

  31. Lois Kimbell September 29, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    This article is amazing. You write so well and everything is perfectly arranged. Thank you for sharing. This is a piece of art IMO. There aren’t enough people like you on the internet that can write so well, keep a read interesting, while at the same time helping so many people. Keep up the good work. I will definitely share your post with my friends.

  32. Alex October 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    Hi Liz, Great post! I’m glad to see you’ve covered both positive and negative aspects of life in Spain. Good stuff!

  33. Michaela October 11, 2015 at 5:02 am #

    I’ve noticed Dr. Rawls as a patient for ten years and he has improved my life in so several techniques.

  34. Dynamite October 20, 2015 at 3:32 am #

    Excellent advise!

  35. Ica October 21, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    Amazing 😉

  36. Melanthys October 25, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    I lived in Brazil many many years ago in my late teens. BEST experience of my life and I encourage everyone with even an ounce of courage to go live as a foreigner in a foreign country.

    It was the most difficult experience of my life (besides living in poverty in the US), but it taught me so much about myself, true independance, true responsibily, n about being the maker and owner of your own fate.

    Ur comments about the hate/love relationship of your new country struck home with deadly accuracy. I HATED and LOVED Brazil, it’s people and it’s cultures.

    Funniest experience for me was that I never experienced culture moving to and living in Brazil, but it hit me hard and caused a major case of homesickness (for Brazil) after coming home to New England.

    Travel and live it up. If u find love beyond the love of self and country, good for u. If not, who the hell cares and why is it any of their damn business anyway?

  37. Trisha November 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Hello! I love your post! I’m in my mid 40s and live in the beautiful but small country of New Zealand. Don’t get me wrong I love my country – but when one has traveled the length and breathe of it many times one wants to see what the ‘outside’ world has to offer. So i quit my job, put our house contents into storage, signed a 1 year contract and dragged my husband over to China with me so I could Teach English.
    To cut a long story short – my husband went back home after 2 months to take care of financial stuff and I soldiered on for another 5 months – getting paid on a monthly basis before breaking the contract and running out of china because I missed him so much. I too want to start a blog of our experience of a mid 40’s couple and what others need to look for regarding keeping financially afloat at home and surviving abroad.

  38. leni December 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    I absolutely love what you wrote. I have lived overseas 4 times and I still get those comments about falling in love. Many people treat my living abroad as a long vacation. uh…I am working full time just like you. I am now considering moving to my 5th country.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with others. You don’t know how much I needed to read this right now!

  39. Diamond January 15, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    Hi my name diamond im in my freshmen year in college. I want to move to sweden after i graduate. Sweden isnt the only place i want to move to its the first place. Have anybody have lived in sweden or vist and would want to give me adive on what it is like there. Should i visit before i decide to move or just move? Thank you if you can tell me anything

  40. amanda January 21, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    thank you so much for this post. I recently moved to australia and am 4 months in and struggling. i so agree with your comment about feeling like you don’t belong in your new home or your old home. and really hating it some days! it was really reassuring to read that someone else feels a similar way. thank you!

  41. Earl Banks January 27, 2016 at 5:58 am #

    You can also find some International Movers if you are moving a lot of stuff.

  42. Hoteles en Ica February 2, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Te invitamos a visitar Ica y disfrutar de una grata estadia en los mejores hoteles de la ciudad de Ica, Peru visitando el portal web

  43. Gwen February 5, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Liz,

    I’m not sure you’ll be responding on my post, as I see that this article dates back from 2013. But nothing ventured, nothing gained right? 🙂
    So here’s my questions: I’m 25, speak 4 languages and I’ve done a fair amount of traveling in my life (lived in China for 3 years, been to Africa,…). Now here’s the deal: I started working here in Belgium a few months ago, which leaves me with limited experience (seriously only 5 months or so) and I recently broke up with my boyfriend after 7 freaking years (it stings like a m*therf*). Still, I feel like just leaving everything behind and going to Australia for a year. With my limited experience however, I’m afraid that if I don’t like it or that when I come back, I won’t be able to find a job anymore.. But on the other hand, I feel like the only reason I stayed in Belgium for all this time, was because my boyfriend was here and wanted to be close to his family. On top of that, leaving with a broken heart and all, might not turn out as great as I am hoping, but I really feel like I need to leave to be able to work on myself, find my own happiness and create the life I want to life instead of living the life society expects me to live..
    Anyway, long story short: should I stay or should I go?

    Thank you so much!


    • Matt Moleda April 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Go to brazil , work in real estate.

      • Karlene Iannone May 25, 2016 at 8:21 am #


    • Sadie November 15, 2016 at 9:18 am #

      go with your gut it is always right

  44. Matt Moleda April 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

    This blog was very insightful, honest, and smart. It was also very enjoyable, and borderline hilarious. I hope you find a place that is more compatible.
    Great blog.

  45. Ryan April 26, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    Try living in Saudi Arabia, then we can talk about how frustrating living abroad can be

  46. Samin May 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    thank you so much for such a Great Post Liz. I recently moved to Egypt and am 4 months in and struggling. i so agree with your comment about feeling like you don’t belong in your new home or your old home. and really hating it some days! it was really reassuring to read that someone else feels a similar way. thank you!

  47. Jackie May 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    Great post, very reassuring to read as I try to adjust to Thailand and feel like quitting many days!

  48. Leah June 3, 2016 at 2:47 am #

    This was great! i have been thinking of moving abroad this was very helpful for my process!

  49. Denise Young June 21, 2016 at 7:50 am #

    Hi im all new to this thought of packimg up movin abroad omg i dont even have a passport to do it,,, but I also dream and am aware everything costs money, but how much apart from the passport obviously would it take for my dream to become a reality.

  50. Jessi June 21, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    Great post. I have lived in Taiwan for a year and could relate to all of this. It’s great when people post both sides of their feelings. I should have read this before I left! It’s about deciding it’s okay to feel these things and still have a great time.

  51. Zequek Estrada July 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    I love that tip about it being ok to hate your adopted country. I’ve never moved before but I’ve heard it’s stressful. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to move to another country.

  52. Tabitha July 21, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    I’m about to move from California to Denmark and wonder if I am insane. Part of me is excited because I have a job lined up and love to travel the EU but another part of me realizes I am leaving my rent control, great weather, and massive amount of friends/diversity and moving to a fairly homogeneous place with terrible weather 🙁 I am trying to stay positive about this opportunity but as the departure date approaches I am more and more aware that Scandinavia is not a utopia and that the prices and general culture are going to cause a big hit to my social life and ability to go out, eat, buy things, etc. How to deal with these late stage negative thoughts and did you experience them on your first move?

  53. sara July 31, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    well I’m 18 now and there are a LOT OF people telling me not to move to germany for studying i would really benefit from some advice ! so if there’s any one familiar with this situation plz inform me !

    • Sadie November 15, 2016 at 9:12 am #

      I think if you are used to being away from home you will have a great time, 18 is a great age to do that sort of things since (not to be rude) you don’t have that many experiences to compare to yet and this will feel like the craziest most fun thing you have ever done. However, I think moving to another state could accomplish the same feeling only you would still be able to live an American lifestyle. German schools are great, they are HARD though be prepared and people in Germany are COOL. The most difficult thing for me is the german language itself and also getting used to people feeling like they have to act “cool” all the time. Americans are REALLY laid back and honestly the weirder and more honest you are the more people like you, but in Germany they do not understand this logic. At least from what I have experienced, they are extremely polite but really hard to get to the core of they bury themselves pretty deep in my opinion and I am an open book so that has been the hardest thing for me. Go with your gut! If you think you are open minded, and can live without the people you currently know for an extended amount of time then I would say do it. ALSO honestly as with all things money is a huge indicator of how happy you will be abroad, part time jobs in Europe are not like part time jobs in America, they are more difficult to find and most of your pay is taxed so if you have the funds to afford living expenses, shopping, and going out with people than definitely do it. Being poor sucks as much in one country as it does in the next.

  54. RWN August 1, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    Yes! So true… Of course I’m a complete optimist and unrealistic dreamer. So living abroad “in perfection” was always the most exciting idea! As a result, my 17th year I saved money, packed up, then moved to Oman (Arab Gulf). It was supposed to be a Gap year before college, but what can I say living overseas is hard but with how much you learn and see-it was impossible to return to the states! I ended up meeting my husband who is Pakistani and decided to stick around. Unfortunately something they never taught me in the movies is that
    1. The gov. of some countries has no mercy when it comes to unemployment. *Reason being – my age… And unfortunately the locals like to take advantage of labor and pay.. (I’ve never seen a US citizen portrayed in the movies as one of those people who work hard and the locals manipulate them and cut their pay … Or don’t pay at all, but trust me it does happen)
    2. You do not always have a friend or people to support you. You might think maybe other Americans, but honestly they can be just as ignorant to you as the locals.

    Despite the negatives, i know that it’s difficult but I also know now- 2 years into this that one day I will be grateful for the courage, discipline, and endurance it took to move my American life overseas. Wherever I may be, I pray it’s a wonderful successful outcome for I and my husband!
    Best wishes to experienced and new travelers!

  55. Amy August 2, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m from Malaysia. I was thinking to work in Singapore. i try to convince myself that is okay to work in Singapore don’t be afraid of the people and new environment. i’m not a tough and positive thinker. After i red your post, i shall not worry too much. Just give a try.

  56. thomas August 3, 2016 at 9:02 am #

    i think this guys an idiot ive travelled the world i moved to denmark at 18 and stayed there i spoke the language fluently before i was there you sound like an idiot i know what im talking about ive been to way more than half the in the world my mom who is an immagrant from denmark thinks so to you make some good points but you are wrong ive been living in denmark for 20 years ive been around the world i think i rest my case

  57. partner August 17, 2016 at 7:38 am #

    living abroad is an easy as it looks.. i am working in an NGO and i just move from my mother city to another city and its difficult for me to manage… live is hard when you think you have to do something change you need to take step.. before going abroad prepare complete plan and backup plan.

  58. Jordan August 17, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

    Great help! Specially for those who love to travel

  59. Gabriel Raff August 17, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns into a mix of emotions

  60. Maria August 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    Great tips! I’m planning to move somewhere in Asia

  61. Erica August 31, 2016 at 6:49 am #

    Your intro is so great and I look forward to reading more posts! Are you still abroad and where? I’d LOVE to hear more as we’re in the middle of prepping for a big “not quite trip, not quite living” adventure…! xo

  62. Gordon September 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    So Liz, you “don’t know anyone who has regretted moving abroad.”? Well, I guess I’m the first. I worked in Germany from 1993-97, and to this day, I wish I hadn’t. Yes, I learned a lot about European culture and perspectives and became reasonably OK in the German language. But the area of Germany I was in is a very fast-paced and high-stress place to work, and that’s the worst kind of environment for me. Generally, I find it hard to adapt to new environments and situations anyway. I never really felt comfortable there; I always felt like a fish out of water..

    I think it takes a pretty easy-going, “go with the flow” type to move abroad and feel good about it. Those are terms that have never been used to describe me. So take a very careful look at your own personality and adaptability before making the leap.

  63. Kathy Nunn September 9, 2016 at 4:55 am #

    Haha, as someone who moved from the UK to Australia, I found this blog really interesting! It is very relatable. I think it’s important to talk to a relocation specialist so they can advise you on all the different aspects of moving to wherever you are going to. Research is really important and it’s so easy now with the internet. Moving to another country is a big step that should not be taken lightly. There are many issues to consider, it is more essential to check out the country of your choice before making the final move, do this in different seasons/different times of the year so you know what you are letting yourself in for.

  64. Gabs September 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Hey there..
    I am moving pretty soon for the first time on my own. Leaving my mom, and friends behind. Taking a step on my freaking own is scaring the shit out of me.. First of all, because I am a big city girl and I am moving to a ‘no mall’ country. Yes.. There are no malls where I am going to. Not that this matter, my point is that the place is so small that I’ve read that even to find a decent shampoo brand is difficult. But i guess what I am most afraid of is not making friends. I am scared that I will be all alone on the other side of the world without a single friend, and then I will be homesick but yet I wont be able to leave because i signed a contract. Now to make things worse, my mom is a walking dead since I told her I got a job abroad. She is so depressed and has told me all the sort of shit to try to scare me even more. But what makes me doubt the decision is the fact that I know how much she will hurt, and how much it will hurt me to know that my decision to leave is hurting the person I love the most. Am I being selfish to take this step? Like she said I am.. urrgh.. I am so scared.. so scared..

  65. Jonathan September 15, 2016 at 7:35 am #

    Anyone know how I can find work in Ukraine and move there? Yes, I am serious. I love the country and hope to marry a Ukrainian girl soon.

  66. Karl September 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, I’m currently looking to move out from the UK, after reading this blog it has spurred me on to get started on putting plans into action. My only question I have for you, you mention about having moments of anger and hatred for Spain, your adopted country,
    What if I have a deep hatred for my country of birth? What would you suggest?

  67. Arie September 22, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    This was a very insightful post, thank you so much for sharing your story! I am considering moving to the UK from the US, and I needed to hear this.


  68. Terry Shears September 24, 2016 at 1:12 am #

    Wow some intresting and honst thing, I live in England and would love to live in Spain I went there 3 weeks ago and loved it. Some people say thay want to move away for better weather and beachs, but me I want to just get away and find a new me, and try to enjoy abit ov life. Iv learned a lot about moving abroad from your post and Im gonna look into it abit more. THANKS Terry

  69. Raka September 29, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    sensible blog, thanks so much for your insights!!!

  70. Sadie November 15, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    Yes this was really nice to read. Its hard to explain to people when you actually MOVE abroad somewhere that you are there to stay, its not a quick fun vacation its apart of your life path and another stepping stone towards a future goal. For me, I wish to be a veterinarian and it is way to expensive to study in the U.S so I moved to Austria to get my degree but all I can ever think of is how much I miss the U.S, my boyfriend, my friends etc… Does anyone feel like the source of their power comes from their sense of humor and when you move abroad no one gets your jokes anymore? For me humor is how I have always connected with people, but when you share no common experiences with someone its really hard to share humor. I don’t know, its been a rocky experience for me I never realized how much I loved my own country and the easy going/smiling nature of Americans. I worked on a lot of ranches out west where I group up in Colorado and Europe just feels like a giant city full of people to me. I want to connect with the land more and more as I get older, and less with people and in Europe everything is so built up it becomes really hard to do that, even though I live in the center of the Alps. It is so beautiful here I have my dog here I do a lot of sports and exercise but the experience never compares to what I had in the U.S. I don’t know if anyone else feels that way and gets over it but I am starting to feel like I will be homesick until I go back and then I can be happy again. For me if I could afford school in the U.S I would be back there in a heartbeat, people are honestly too uptight here for me and I havent met one person that knows how to party FO REAL like an American hahaha I know it sounds like I am just refusing to embrace my new home, but I have REALLY REALLY tried and I cannot get passed these feelings. Does anyone have any advice or potentially know how long it takes to really make a new country feel like your home? I honestly am a very social person I have NEVER had problems connecting with people and immediately making really good true friends until I moved here. Its a really strange feeling.

    • gurpreet kaur December 25, 2016 at 1:48 am #

      i m in d same situation sadie.jst moved yo canada from india 5 months back.i liked d plave its butiful n evn atmosphere is fresh n clean bt i miss my family,friends like anything may be its an initial stage bt if i get a chance i will fly back asap.confused i m

    • Myfairlady January 13, 2017 at 1:51 am #

      Sadie…I feel exactly the same. I moved from Houston, TX to Italy, and then to London.Beautiful places but soooo lacklustre in basic joy and crack up joking around. It is amazing, but sombre here and as an American who is used to vivacious self expression, my personality feels stifled here. Try LOL for real in a public space! People will all stare as if your a crazy person.
      I can only tell you that after 3 years, I still feel as an outsider and homesick. I don’t think it goes away.
      I went back home for a visit and immediately felt at ease and at home again. I am returning home, and very happy about it. Europe has felt like when you are in a bad relationship, you know you should move on, but you do love certain things. Eventually though it wont work permanently and it will be a good memory, but happy you are out.
      All IMO of course.

  71. Shannon November 29, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    I hope someone can help me a little. I currently live in florida USA and am planning on moving to Malta at the end of july 2017. Ive never relocated my residency to another country before. So I’m hoping someone can tell me what all i will need to move. What documents? Where to get them? And how much will it probably cost me? Ive never gotten a visa before, and since I’m trying to be a permanent resident will i even need a visa? Passport is obviously something ill need but what else?

    I also have to move my cat and my German Shepherd. My dog is a service animal if that means anything. probably not. But any Info on what the process is for moving animals internationally will be a big help!

    I want to make sure I’m prepared to the max for this move so the more info and the more detailed description on where and how to find what i need will be much appreciated!

    Thank you so much for your time!

  72. brown December 1, 2016 at 1:33 am #

    Great experience I agree with what you said, that travel abroad change you for better or worse.

  73. brown December 1, 2016 at 1:40 am #

    Great experiencee, after all living abroad is not ideal us people think it’s or the media makes people think when I became immigrant things are not perfect, I have to make adjustments to cope with my new environment, be an immigrant have help me in some way but have left it scar’s.

    • Aristotle December 10, 2016 at 7:58 am #

      I’m from Africa and recently moved to the UK. If anyone asks for my opinion, I will strongly discourage the move. It’s not only the weather, but the small stifling apartments, little or no gardens. I don’t understand how a people who love pets this much would create so little room for them. I also find the food/meat to be tasteless/flavourless and its tedious constantly looking at the food labels to assess how much MSG is there or isn’t. The medicine doesn’t work quickly or as effectively enough or you have to almost die to receive a prescription.

      And I agree, TV creates a wrong picture of places. I thought this would be great. Trying to be as fair minded as possible, Africa with its lack the ‘advanced’ technology, is so much better. The food is organic, weather great, verrrrry spacious in every sense, from rooms in houses to tarmac roads…

      In the interest of fairness, I like the fact that everyone here is very nice and polite.


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