What it takes to move abroad

In one of my first posts in this diary, I told you about my desire to go abroad and where it comes from. I also made it pretty clear that going abroad to me meant “moving to the US”. I never wanted to move anywhere else than to California. Likewise, I wouldn’t have turned New York or Florida down, probably, but besides that, my desire to go abroad was pretty limited to the US only. That said, we ended up in Singapore.

And this emphasizes that going abroad isn’t a. as easy as one might think, and b. relies heavily on many circumstances that we can’t control anyway.

The better job offer and a few other benefits made us choose Singapore over the US – for a first, anyway. We never know what will happen in the future.

In any way, our story shows that there might be different circumstances, and with those come many things that need to be considered. And about some of those, I would like to frankly write about to make sure everybody who thinks about making the step knows about all eventualities. If you still want to move abroad afterward, you’re good to go.

So, what does it take to move abroad? First of all: It’s unfortunately not enough to dream about a life in a foreign country as expat. You have to work for it. And I really mean that. You should visualize your goal and align all your steps to it, especially regarding your occupation. Some jobs work internationally, while others are limited to the country they were trained in. The latter wouldn’t help with your dream of going abroad. However, special skills could benefit another country, company, or institution. So it doesn’t hurt to sharpen your skill set and work on your profile so that you can offer something to the global world in any way.

Check your work options

Whenever I was looking for a new job or role, I would always make sure the company I applied to would have at least one dependence or office in the states. That way, there could still be an option to get relocated through my employer while I was trying other things on the side. I never made it through my employer but got transferred through Daniel’s company. That’s why I can say directly moving abroad through a company is undoubtedly a more convenient and safer way. At least for visa applications, the organization process, and also from a financial perspective. On the other hand, the safety net will come with restrictions, too. Your company may have a word in the country/city you choose, and also limit your time abroad. Some companies also implement penalties into the contract to ensure that the employee doesn’t use the company to relocate but leaves afterward.

Build up a financial cushion

Speaking of financial aspects: You better make sure you have saved up enough money to move abroad, with or without an employer. Seriously! Living abroad is likely to be expensive, probably even more than you’re used to. I would suggest saving up at least six months’ salary just in case. This will make your new life much easier, trust me.

Examine Your Motivations

Well, to be honest, there is no such thing as a “new” life, not abroad anyway. It’s just different, but it’s still a life. I’m emphasizing that because people think of holidays when they are moving abroad. Especially when they move to a warmer, sunnier country. When we moved to Singapore, friends from home would call us “the holiday folks” and ask us about the weather and the beach rather than the everyday life we had to adjust to. But that’s what it is, eventually: A foreign country where you probably don’t have any friends, social contacts, maybe not even a job. There will be unforeseeable events and situations that make you feel anxious.

Manage your expectations: Life abroad is no vacation.

Manage your expectations: Life abroad is no vacation.

Prepare for Emotions

And even though you know by heart that you want to do the step and move abroad, that doesn’t mean that your folks will. Or to be clear here: There will be people who don’t understand your desire. And they will most likely don’t understand the challenges you will be confronted with once you’re in the process, either. So be prepared for any kind of awkward reactions and intentions to make you stay. That can be quite flattering in the beginning, but at one point, it could also lead to uncertainty. If your mum is crying over your plans to move abroad, you might reconsider. I mean, who wants to make their mum cry?

Our family and friends did react quite differently. Some of them were very happy for us and appreciated the great chance, some were not able to relate, however, all of them were sad to see us go. And that didn’t make it any easier to leave. Period.

Particularly in the last couple of weeks, you will experience an adventurous and challenging time with the moving process and your friends and family want to enjoy as much time as possible with you, too. Maybe you will enjoy the best time you ever had in your hometown. And maybe this will make you wonder why you wanted to leave in the first place. So be prepared, there are mixed feelings to come.


Appreciate your routines and Leave for the right reasons

Leaving your home, the place you grew up might feel uncomfortable. After all, it’s the place you have your roots in, your family, and probably your best friends. The people you know how to deal with and handle, even though you don’t appreciate everything they do. I don’t miss the grumpy bus drivers and supermarket cashiers in Berlin, but after all, I know what to expect when entering a bus or a supermarket. Don’t take this for granted. In habit lies comfort. Same with the daily routine that you are used to. You might be bored with it, but you still are going to miss it once you’re abroad. But if you want to get out of your comfort zone, get rid of habits you don’t like anyway, and change the environment, then you’re good to go. In that sense, at least. And that’s what moving abroad is about after all: Getting out of your comfort zone!


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