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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

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

  1. BlushandBarbells September 24, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your very well thought-out post! I’ve lived abroad twice – once in Spain and once in Japan. I’m not opposed to living and or working abroad again in the future, but it really isn’t as glamorous as I’d thought it would be. I still had to go to work or school, pay rent, etc…I really preferred extended backpacking trips. Now THOSE was good times without responsibility, but the trips needed to be funded by working….

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:21 am #

      Yeah that’s why I prefer to work abroad, makes it a bit easier. Any idea where to next?

  2. Kayla September 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm #


    I love this blog! I think its great that you are not only open-minded towards the diversity of cultures and sites around the globe but the you also strive to encourage others to step outside of their own backyard.
    I lived abroad in Europe for several years growing up and that exposure made me who I am today. I’ve done tons of traveling and am about to move to Taipei to teach English. Even though I’ve lived in 3 other countries and have travelled all over, I’m still scared as hell for this next adventure. I know it will be a great experience but I’m still nervous for the big change and the challenge. I’d love any advice you have on calming the nerves as you plan for a big move.


    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:22 am #

      Thank you so much!

  3. Julia October 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Loved this post! I’m studying abroad in France right now and these are all exactly what I’m going through and overcoming right now.

    I think for me, no one told me how difficult it would be to meet new people, to join new clubs, to make a fool of myself with locals. There’s something innately difficult about getting out and meeting new people.

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:22 am #

      It’s so hard, and I’ve heard it ain’t easy in France. Just keep trying! Just find one person to get a way in, that’s how I usually go about it

  4. Lee October 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    I was lucky enough to live abroad as a young kid. It forever altered me because I got to see the truth of what it meant to live in luxury, even just the small luxuries. Some of the things I saw that kids my age had to struggle through impacted me even as just a 6 year old. Hearing the words “I’d never eat [insert some specific food some whiny child hated]” forever changed how I looked at myself and my peers after returning from South America. Living abroad has a way of getting you to mature faster than you imagined by simply being humbled at how others live and the amazing way they are so resourceful.

    Living abroad taught me to really laugh, laugh like I haven’t since I was a child. I feel like many of the cultures I visited just ‘get’ what life is supposed to be about and instead of worrying about how they look, what job they have, etc, they just freaking live and its beautiful. (Some, not all. I’ve lived in enough places to know rotten eggs comes from EVERYWHERE, but thankfully, they are rare and never ruin the bunch :D)

    Last thing I learned was quality of life. I encounter this every time I have a long pause between abroad vacations. I get in my head that 4-star hotels are the sign of a good time. Then I always visit a culture where their 4-star hotel is a shack on the beach. My first impression is always ‘my god what a dump’, but by day 3, that place is the most amazing palace I could have asked for. Everything you need in life is there, and its not in ‘stuff’, it’s not in ‘stars’, its just in the experience. It’s about what life was truly meant to be before the media told you what you were worth. And that’s when I usually come home and throw away half of my possessions before I forget that feeling again.

    Unfortunately, I always stop myself from actually ‘living’ abroad now that I’m an adult. Especially because I grew up in countries as a young kid that were very dangerous, I’m always looking at the news and wondering to myself: what if something erupts and I can’t get back? what if I’m stuck away from my family because of something political or worse? And personally…I hate those pessimistic thoughts cause they truly have killed my ability to even consider moving abroad seriously.

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:22 am #

      Great comment, thank you!

  5. Jessica October 14, 2013 at 2:48 am #

    I lived abroad in Madrid, Spain for 2 years working as an au pair! I met a rather cute New Zealander when I was visiting Barcelona and now we’re married….. 3 years later. I’m american so he’s on his green card now. True love may await you ;D

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      woah awesome! Sounds like a great story!

  6. Andy October 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Getting rid of all of your things is a must, but it is one of the most difficult to do, but you will be glad after you do. Cheers for moving abroad. I look forward to following your journey.

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      Thanks Andy!

  7. Lindsey Parry October 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    A very nice post and agree with many of your comments having lived overseas a number of years myself now!

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:54 am #

      Thanks! Glad you could relate. where were you living?

  8. Sara October 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Looking to leave Ireland with my son and move to Canada but as I am over 35, I have to be sponsored through an LMO, very hard to try find a job online and get sponsored by a company in Canada when I am up against Canadians competing for the same jobs.

    Thinking of just packing up and landing in Canada and then try find work once there. I believe with an Irish passport, you can stay in Canada without a visa for six months, so if I secure work within those six months, I can apply for an extention on my stay there and then apply for permanent residency.

    Any advice appreciated!!

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:23 am #

      No idea but good luck and keep me posted!

  9. Shonan Love October 31, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    You look much, much older than 24. I pegged you for 35 base don your pic.

    White people…

    • Liz November 1, 2013 at 12:24 am #

      what is your problem?

      • Sofia February 14, 2014 at 9:10 am #

        You’re beautiful! Thanks for the encouragement! I lived abroad once and cannot wait to start LIVING again.

  10. Jess November 4, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I have just discovered your site and I LOVE it! You are a great inspiration to me and the world.

    Keep on living your joy and encouraging others to do the same!

    With love

    P.S. When I make the leap to live in my dream countries around the world I shall let you know!

    • Liz November 6, 2013 at 1:56 am #

      Keep me posted chica!

  11. Chloe November 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Hi Liz.
    I am very inspired by your experiences.
    I am 17 and since I was 15 all I have wanted to do is move abroad and I don’t feel as if I can wait much longer. I noticed that you began your experiences when you were 16 so how did you go about it?
    And is there any advice you can give me for attempting to travel at my age.
    Thank you so much.

    • Liz November 7, 2013 at 1:44 am #

      Hi Chloe, it all started with a trip in school, then I studied abroad in Uni and moved to spain after I graduated to teach english. There are lots of ways to get started, but I’d say start small

      • Brogan March 30, 2014 at 2:29 am #

        Hi Liz, I love your blog.

        I am 18 and I also have dreamed of moving abroad for so long.
        I want to move to the Canary Islands preferably.
        I tried to apply for a job and then move abroad, as I presumed this would be the easiest way(although, I can already see it’s not easy.) as you could make friends in work and would be financialy stable already. Unfortanately that isn’t really working for me, I’ve had replies but as soon as they find out I am from the UK and wanting to move abroad they’re no longer interested. I think I need to go over there and then get a job it seems. Can you please give me the best advise? I’ve had it all in my mind for so long. I have a career over here, but I am still young and I am willing to risk it all and follow my heart.

  12. JB Silver November 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Dear Liz,
    I had to laugh when you wrote about lack of fluency in Spanish. I hate to inform you, sweetie, but you aren’t yet fluent in English!
    I’m Canadian-born, moved to Israel as a teenager, and now divide my time between Ireland (The Republic of, in summer) and Jerusalem, Israel (the rest of the year).
    I have had wonderful experiences in most places, with minimal hassle (unless one counts the occasional negative stuff during army service or military reserves duty in Lebanon, which I don’t).
    I tried to read your blog. Honestly, I did. I don’t know whether it is my Asperger’s or not, but I find the lack of correct English grammar too off-putting.
    Good luck in learning how to write the English language, and all your future endeavours.

    • Liz November 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      Hate to say it, but it’s your Asperger’s – sorry!

  13. Grow Up November 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    “Liz” is a very immature young lady. Let’s hope travel cures her and matures her.

  14. Sofija December 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I feel you… I am experiencing that now in Germany and i’m from Serbia. Everything you wrote is true! Keep up the good work! ;)

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  16. janet jackson December 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    you look like micheal jackson with bleached hair in the very first photo on this page SHAAAMOOO EEEEEEHHHHEEEEEE

  17. smith December 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

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  18. Kira December 24, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this. Right now I am gearing up to study abroad in Spain in about a month, and I fully intend on not wanting to leave when the time comes. I have already fallen in love with Paris and I know the cultures are vastly different, but I look forward to the struggle of living abroad in a way instead of just visiting for a couple weeks or so. Like you said in one of your previous posts, life is so much more laid back, and I feel like that is a live worth struggling for. I have friends who have no interest in traveling, when I have every intention of making it my career. Everyone thinks I am nuts for not caring if and when I get married, or even have kids, so I am right there with you. Life is what you make it, and I’m so happy to see that I am not actually crazy. I look forward to the challenge. Thank you! P.s. Ever been to Mallorca?

  19. Samantha Johnson December 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you for posting this blog! I am moving abroad from USA to Singapore in a few weeks! I’m scared, I’m nervous, I’m excited and absolutely over-the-moon!

  20. james January 1, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    hello liz
    would you have any advise for a guy who is 58 and wants to live in spain barcelonia maybe reading all the blogs is got me very confused.should i just finish selling all my stuff my house my 2 businesses and everything else i dont need.i live in princeton nj right now and iam 58 years old going on 40 kinda of.i heard trying to get an internship or studing languages over there just to get my foot in the door is a good way to move abroad but just getting on a plane and moving getting an apt and trying to find a simple job seems impossible actually makes me very angry hearing about all the hassles you have to go threw and yet these foreign smucks are everywhere here in the usa there all over the place.could i buy or just rent an apt and then look for a job later what do you recommend.would be able to get a resident visa any advise would be great coming from you.
    james from princeton nj

  21. Kevin January 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    I appreciate all you points and they’re spot on. Many Americans simply can’t understand until they’ve put themselves into another culture, and most don’t even try. I’m 54, successful in my career field and am now very seriously taking steps to permanently move to Switzerland. I’m a dual citizen and speak German (Hochdeutsch and Züritüütsch) – so on those topics there’s no issue. Presently I’m trying to get some interviews with firms in my profession. I know I only have 10 to 12 years left to work, but I should be able to maneuver into a position without too much difficulty. It’s just a matter of finding the right firm and the right salary. But I’m DONE with the US, I can’t even begin to explain and I don’t have to. Neither do I have to apologize or justify it to anyone, I served the US in uniform and was discharged from the Armed Forces honorably. I’ve paid my dues. I may have to explain it to the US Embassy in Bern once I start the process to get my CLN (Certificate of Loss of Nationality). I hope to renounce my US citizenship once there. Because of high demand for CLNs in Switzerland by dual Swiss American citizens, it’s about a 2 year wait – that along should tell you something about the US. Snarky shallow commenters please keep your simplistic views to yourselves, making them simply proves my point that most Americans are shallow, egotistical and one dimensional.
    “Bitter, table for one sir?” I get it, it’s just that I’m so spent – I have nothing left for this country and all I see around me is aggression, whether it’s politics, or what have you.

    But for me the bottom line is this:
    In America, the rights of the individual reign absolutely supreme and to be protected from (I love the absurdity of this phrase) ‘the tyranny of the majority’.

    To the Swiss, the rights of the majority are to be protected from the individual since nearly any malevolent behavior can be hidden behind the mask of ‘individual rights’.

    It’s simply a philosophical choice – I simply no longer agree with the basic premise of US systems (economic, political, educational, cultural) all of which support the “ME first” mentality.

    Although it looks here like my motivations are all negatively generated – wanting to get away from America; they aren’t. I’ve thought long and hard on this and I have just as many positive motivations as I do negative.

  22. HomesickGuy January 6, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    I am from China and now i am working in the States, everyday to me was disaster, i know few ppl, the whole company i only knew the 4 ppl in my team. For the time being, i am feeling like i can’t talk in front of others, kind like social anxiety disorder. I am here all by myself, its really hard. and i am 25yrs old .

  23. michael January 7, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    I lived in Tenerife for 3 years back in 2006 and i moved back to the UK because the health care is rubbish and your boss treats you like shit because he knows your not back home and you can’t just get a job across the street.Ever since i left Los Cristianos it has completely changed it doesn’t even seem the same place anymore and back when i was living there people were still coming all year round.I went to Tenerife on st.Patricks day last year and the place was so quiet i’ve seen cemetery’s busier than Tenerife was and normally ST.Patrick’s day is one of the busiest times to go to Tenerife.I’m going this June for the world cup but that will be the last time i go.

  24. Aine January 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Hello Liz,

    Thank you for all your insights. While reading some of your experiences, I felt like you were writing about my own life during my recent travels to Ireland. I was born in N.I., but moved to Canada as a young girl (8), and never seemed to get Ireland, especially Donegal, out of my system.

    So, four years ago, I rented a cottage for four months in Donegal to “test” out the lifestyle to see if I could do it permanently. It was fantastic. So, for the next three years, I worked to get myself in a position to move back permanently, and did so last July (2013). Sold my house (in Canada), all my belongings but a mere 5.66 csm. of “stuff”, had it shipped over (plus my cat of 14 years), and my “stuff” has been sitting in storage here ever since. It was a literally a “crash” landing since I arrived. There has been no end to the pain from the minute I picked up my rental car…then my cat…then an hour up the road, somebody opened their car door while I was driving through a village and took off half the car on the drivers side…and the fun began with the Irish car rental people. Please slap me in the belly with a wet fish for the rest of my life instead of having me deal with the Irish rental car people:(

    Moving on…had three sale agreeds on three houses, one after the other, (in the best property market in history in Ireland), and every one of them fell through because of (putting it kindly) non-disclosure issues from vendors. Then decided to rent…screw that, no one in Ireland will rent you a place if you have an animal…didn’t see that coming from the most recognized agricultural country in the world!!

    In the middle of all of this, I had to return to Canada as my Mother was critically ill, so back there I went for 5 weeks, leaving kitty with a cousin, then back to Ireland…and here I am now…surfing for websites to help me figure out my next step, steeped in the darkness of that looming question…was moving here all a big mistake?.

    All this (and I have left out a lot) brings me to a question for you. I am bitter and exhausted with the entire process, and my fingertips are but hours away from emailing the movers to have my “stuff” shipped back to Canada, and screw the entire plan. I have reached the point of bitterness and negativity, but wonder, should I give it a bit longer? My friends get emails from my regularly and cannot believe all the shit I have had to come through in just over six months. It’s like I took over the “axis of evil” from George W. Bush!!! I am older than your average demographic, female, and single, but am high energy and a strong person, and have overcome many of life’s traumas, but this entire experience has really brought me to my knees. So yes, moving abroad is definitely not easy. Any thoughts you can offer before I either hit the keys or the bottle, I would be most grateful for.

    Thank you again for doing this blog. In less that 5 minutes, you gave me oxygen, and the will to write this email.



  25. Janet January 9, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    Moved to Australia; Sydney, Melbourne then to Brisbane. Things are different here. Technology and shopping not so up to there like some other big cities in Asia or US. Food is expensive too. Missing home now.

    • Bailey January 28, 2014 at 6:27 am #

      Hey Janet! Are you living and working in Australia? If so, was it difficult for you to find a job? I’m thinking of going in September

  26. Chris Martinez February 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Hey Liz I’m 22 and I’ve been thinking of moving abroad to Spain late 2014 or early 2015. Do you have any recommendations of programs to teach English? And do you have a rough estimate to stay for say 6-9 months comfortably if work doesn’t come as easily as expected. Im from Mexico so I do speak Spanish although it’s a bit different from castellano any extra advice on how to go through the process would be appreciated

  27. Gina February 3, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    Hey Liz,

    I really appreciate reading all of your posts…I’m trying to go against the grain and move overseas myself, it is such a stressful struggle! But well worth it I know. Your posts are very inspirational, thank you!

  28. Don Droga February 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    Moving abroad can be hell – if you make it through the hell it’s great! Change out your life :)

  29. Miguel February 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    While looking for something entirely different, Google showed this post among it’s various results and I decided to read it since it looks I won’t find any time soon that I’m looking for (perchance do you know why is it famous the phrase «I never thought I’d be in a family that has more people than a small country»?). Anyways, this post drew my attention and I read it and I kind of felt identified here. I’m in Spain right now and I’m not quite sure if I’m loving it or hating it or whatever. A bit of background on this: I’m a Mexican scholar of Spanish Golden Age Literature (so the language stuff is not a problem, thank God), I visited Spain a long time ago when I was just a highschool nerd and now I’m back. For a really long time (half my life) coming back was something I really wished, because of plenty of reasons which go from my love to Spanish culture to my life passion, which is Spanish literature, and of course including the awesome memories I kept from my earlier expirience. Even when I’m not staying forever (my university in Mexico sent me here to accomplish a common project between unis), I feel lost, angry at times and mostly depressed. I’m not an old man but I ain’t a chaval either and I can’t help missing things such as my bed, my kitchen, my library. I really miss my wife, even when back in Mexico we are no longer living together. There’s also the money issue; since Mexican peso is way lower than Euro, I’m having a hard time adjusting my expenses. Not everything’s bad either, I do enjoy myself while I’m at work here, unfortunately when I have to leave the University Library I feel empty, I don’t like the place I have to stay, I do hate the beds here (and believe me, a good place to sleep is needed when your daily work involves reading and typing in the quietest of places for hours) and I’m having a hard time connecting with people here. It is true my earlier experiences abroad were in places where people are warmer (I don’t know what you think, but I love madrileños, they’re so Mexican-like!), here in Pamplona everyone’s just as cold as the weather. Perhaps I’m just getting old and that’s why I can’t enjoy adventure as much as I could have done if I were five or ten years younger. And I think something that should be warned before exploring new countries is exactly that: think of yourself as a complete stranger, don’t try to copy your homeland lifestyle, flow with the new one and act more like a teenager and less like an adult. Well, just wanted to share. I really enjoyed your post. Thank you!

  30. Sam February 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Hey there!

    This was a really insightful read, i enjoyed it a lot! I myself am thinking about moving abroad. As a 19-year-old i have experienced my fair share of travelling around the world. I don’t know what it is but travelling really does make feel happy past my wildest thoughts. The problem i find myself in is not knowing what my true passion in life is and relating that to work, it’s a real struggle! Who knows? Maybe things might seem more interesting when i’m surrounded by a whole new culture to me!

  31. Cooper February 16, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Hi, there! Thanks for sharing.

    It’s true: living abroad is NOT as glamorous as it seems. I’ve been in Spain since September, and I don’t think I was as prepared as I thought I was. Learning a language is difficult, especially when it seems like everyone wants to learn English. I’ve always been “that guy” in Spanish class that speaks “like a native”, and I thought learning Spanish would be relatively easy. WRONG! Compared to the other Americans, I sound great, but when compared to locals, I sound like a toddler. Often times, I can’t understand conversation that I’m not a part of, which in group settings makes things very difficult.
    They also don’t tell you that studying abroad can be very lonely at times, not in the sense that you miss home or what have you, but more that making local friends can be difficult, and weekend nights may be spent cooking dinner alone and trying to get Netflix to work or attempting to watch a movie in Spanish without subtitles. It’s draining to constantly be living in a different language. I thought things would “click” by now and Spanish would come naturally, but I still have to intently listen to what people are saying and correct myself as I’m speaking.
    Spain has been wonderful, and I wouldn’t ever think about trading my experience for another year at my school. The obstacles I’ve faced make the good times that much more special.

  32. Karen February 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Our family just moved to Zimbabwe its crazy I know. People here are so friendly and this helped us a lot. We also lived in the UK for 5 years. The weather and the fact that people just did not care about each other got to me sometimes. I think its important when moving abroad to embrace the new countries culture to always show respect and friendliness. To show a smile and being friendly opened a lot of doors for me to get us going in the right direction. This is Africa and you need guts to be here. I have learned to appreciate the things that we so easily take for granted like fast foods electricity extra. But at least here everybody helps each other because you never know what tomorrow might happen with the politics here.

  33. Michelle February 20, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’m a 20 year old studying abroad in Alicante, Spain for the semester and it has actually been really difficult time. Its not the language or the culture that is getting to me, but rather the nasty American girls in my program. Its been so bad lately that I’ve been begging my parents to let me come home (to no avail, they want me to struggle through it). I guess we will see how I end up at the end of this experience.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has struggled! Makes me feel like less of a baby haha.

    Thanks for the advice,


  34. Diana February 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Im seriously thinking about quitting my secure job and move to the UK. I just found out that they have plenty of jobs in my field over there. The idea and prospects of working and fulfilling my life long dream of traveling Europe can actually happen! How do you get the courage to leave everything behind, house with mortgage, family friends, my sweet pets (probably figure I bring them)… and the idea that I may not find work when I come back?

  35. Gavin February 22, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    I am moving to Brisbane in March and I found this so helpful and has really just solidified that I am making the right choice to move out of England, Although I love England I cannot wait to see Brisbane and Australia.

  36. David Barrett March 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I have been blogged out by reading too many mediocre blogs of self important persons. What a refreshing moment to read your blog. You made me smile! Your musings are like a vintage red wine. Keep up the posts and enjoy life abroad.

  37. Gregory B Ferguson March 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Wow, every word you said is straight from my heart. The world is waiting for you. To many people are okay with their asshole jobs and that makes society unbearable to live with.
    Jobs have made people assholes and mindless, adventureless, etc . I wouldnt trade a 401k for everything I have seen in my life and experienced. My family stays in a 20 miles radius and never goes anywhere therefor I am a loser for wandering the globe. I love wandering and will never stop.
    I also agree with you, working to pay your way there is the only way to go. (Unless your wealthy without working) I love your angeltoes pic and your beautiful too , I enjoyed your blog thx =)

  38. Allie March 4, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    What job do you have that allows you to travel abroad so well?

  39. Jenny March 6, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Just came across your blog when I was looking for places to visit in Malaga. Just have to say I really enjoyed your insights and wish I had had your sense at your age. I travelled to Oz 40 years ago and it was very tough. Stayed there four years and moved back to the UK and then moved to Ireland where I now live.

    You are so right in what you say. It is very tough moving away from home and having to deal with the frustrations and challenges on your own in a new country. But it does develop an extra “psychological muscle” that stays with your for your whole life.

    I am 57 now but am not afraid of anything life chucks at me – been there and managed somehow.

    Keep up your travel/blog – and can’t help saying with your looks you are going to get snapped up by some lovely chap …….but don’t rush!!!! I met my man in an Irish bar in OZ 36 years married now.

  40. ao so mi nu gia re nhat March 12, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    This is the right site for anybody who wants to understand this topic.

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  42. fanny March 20, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Haha love your blog, agree with it a hundred percent. I’ve lived in a few places and my hubby and I just came back from living in Australia and travelling Asia. It’s always been the best decision for me to move but never easy thats for sure. It does help being fluent in a few languages. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Greg March 20, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Even if you dont know a bunch of languages the world is privy to English ;) Take you trusty translator lol

  43. khach san o nha trang 2 sao March 23, 2014 at 2:13 am #

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  44. Maryann March 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

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  45. Rose March 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Love your blog, its done very well. I am doing a very similar thing in my own way!

    Mine is a new blog, so it needs some work!

    Keep up the adventure!

  46. Cyra March 30, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    This was actually one of the first posts I ever saw on your blog and I really agree with what you are saying.

    I have been living overseas for nearly 10 years now and it’s true that you won’t always find what you are looking for.

    My first stop was London and I was lucky when I moved there – everything just kind of worked out and I made amazing friends without even trying, which always helps. I survived in Italy fine, but I have not become one with Spain, or should I say, Logroño, so far. I love Spain but I am hating on my adopted city at the moment. Perhaps it’s the winter blues.

    But that’s okay. ;) You’ve gotta have the good times to appreciate the bad! Regardless of the bad times, I wouldn’t change a thing for the world. It’s these experiences that shape who we are. If someone moved overseas and realised it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it would be a cop out to run home at the drop of a hat, for no solid reason.

  47. Rikka Jaruda March 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Hi Liz! I love this post! Every word you said in there was right. I moved to Australia six years ago and the first thing that no one tells you about moving abroad is pretty lonely. Yes, I was excited about all the adventures I was going to make. Yes, I was excited about exploring a new country. Yes, I was excited about meeting new people. But on the first few weeks, months even, that you move into the country and not know anyone, it is very lonely. Thanks to the inventors of skype and facebook, tehy have made my move a lot easier. :) Keep blogging Liz! Cant wait for more of your adventures :)

  48. Fran March 31, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Hey Liz,

    Fantastic read with some great advice and insights for anyone thinking about moving abroad.

    Looks like you’re having an amazing time on your travels, very jealous! :)

  49. Dana March 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Thank you for this piece of advice,my husband and I are planning to go to Canada with our little baby boy.We’re from Chile and I have to admit,I’m a little scared…I’m scared about If I’m going to be able to survive in a country having this awfull English I have… =/ But as you said,if I don’t practise I’ll never ever ever learn English as I would like to. I’m also scared about If i’m going to fit in this new culture,weather and a long etc. but my husband and I really want to do this in order to scape from poberty,we don’t want to live in a country in which health and to study aren’t a right and we have to pay ( a lot) for them…

  50. Calvin April 15, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff
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  51. Michelle July 22, 2013 at 10:12 am #


  52. Luciano July 23, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Wake up!

  53. Kar August 14, 2013 at 9:03 am #


  54. NM August 19, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Any luck yet


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