Article Written By Smoozitive

10 Hard Truths About Life Abroad (And How They Can Transform Your Experience)

Woman walking abroad figuring out the hard truths of life abroad

Moving abroad is like stepping into an entirely different world. Even when we think ‘Amsterdam’ is pretty similar to ‘Berlin’, or ‘moving from the USA to Italy couldn’t be that much different…’ , it’s actually a leap into the unknown, an adventure into the unfamiliar. But behind the excitement, the logistics, and the dream of living in another country – there’s a set of hard truths about life abroad that every expat must know about. And no one is talking about it!

So we rolled up our sleeves because we wish someone would have said this to us years ago, just like this – simple, honest, and truthful.

You know why you’re moving abroad, and if you don’t we suggest you start by first figuring this bit out.

And yet, as you look at your one-way ticket to a new life, excitement and apprehension run through your veins. You may have dreamt of this moment for years, or you (or your partner) just got an opportunity you couldn’t resist. Perhaps you decided to follow your heart and join someone on the other side of this flight, or you wanted a better future for your kids, with more opportunities and a different lifestyle. So you’re going for it.

Either you read every possible blog and post you could find online about your upcoming destination, got some long checklists of things you must do, have to sort out, and need to prepare. OR you’re going freestyle ‘I’ll figure it out as I go’ kind of approach.

We get it. We’ve actually done both. And while the journey can be incredibly rewarding, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, those hard truths about life abroad we’re about to share with you, these can really transform your experience.

So, before you embark on your expat adventure (or even if you’ve been living abroad for some time, and how to say it, you’re feeling a little ‘off’), we invite you to take a moment to explore these hard truths with us. They might not be easy to hear, but they are the building blocks of a truly remarkable, positive and successful life abroad. Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. It’s Your Choice: You Have the Power to Decide

You don’t HAVE to move abroad; you CHOOSE to move abroad.

It might sound harsh, but that’s one of the truths about life abroad. Recognize that, on some level, this choice is always yours. Understanding this fundamental truth empowers you to take ownership of your decision. It’s a bold step toward crafting a life on your terms.

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2. No One Is Waiting For You : Take Actions

Harsh, but true. When you arrive in a new country, there’s no welcoming committee waiting for you. It could have been nice, we admit. But it’s rarely the case. And that’s perfectly fine, because the responsibility for creating your life abroad rests squarely on your shoulders. It shouldn’t scare you – but drive you to act, set goals, make plans and find solutions.

There’s always a solution!

3. Feeling at Home Takes Time: Patience is Key

Don’t expect to move and immediately feel at home. It takes time to acclimate, build relationships, and find your groove. The initial discomfort is natural; it’s part of the growth process. Be patient with yourself; you’re adapting to a new environment, and the feeling of belonging will come with time. And if you want a couple tips on how to feel more at home, check this podcast episode. 

4. You Can’t Control The Circumstances : Control Your Reactions

Life abroad can throw curveballs and it will! Here’s the good news: you can’t control all situations, but you CAN ALWAYS control how you react to them. Your attitude and resilience are your best allies. Approach challenges with a positive mindset, view them as opportunities for personal growth, and adapt as needed.

Yes, those things are in many cases essential. And let’s be honest, they can be a pain in the a**. So actually, an even more crucial aspect is how you approach these obligations and situations; it will set the tone for your life abroad. Recognizing these truths about life abroad can transform your experience. Instead of viewing them as burdens, embrace them as integral parts of your expat journey. Cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness to new experiences. Accept the differences. And, as we said earlier – patience is key!

italy expat services

6. You Are Never Starting From Scratch!

It might feel this way at times, but it’s never the case. You don’t have a ‘reset to factory setting’ option so you’re not starting from zero. Your past experiences, knowledge, values, and qualities are valuable assets. Embrace them as tools to thrive in your new environment. Draw upon your previous accomplishments and skills to navigate challenges confidently.

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7. Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

Making mistakes is the best way to learn and grow. Don’t fear them; instead, view them as stepping stones on your path to success abroad. We made so many mistakes on our journey. Emotional, practical, legal, styling, language… We did them all! Each misstep provides insights and a deeper understanding of your new surroundings. Plus, did you know that errors fosters resilience and adaptability?! Those are two essential skills for your success abroad. 

8. Avoid Comparisons : They Just Hold You Back

Comparing your new country to your previous one can be counterproductive. It often leads to wasted time and energy and can make you feel miserable. Embrace the differences; we don’t say one country is better than the other – it’s just different! So instead of fighting it, or getting frustrated why one thing isn’t the same as you’re used to; recognize that every place has its strengths and weaknesses, and appreciating these distinctions enhances your journey.

9. Life abroad is not a vacation. It’s life.

Living abroad is, well, living. You still do everyday tasks like laundry, groceries, and face life’s ups and downs. You’ll cry, laugh, love. You’ll work, exercise, sleep. You will live. The difference is you’ll be doing it in another country, which adds richness and challenges to your life. Don’t try to be a tourist. Try to become a local by embracing the reality of expat life, and you’ll find fulfillment in the ordinary moments.

10. It’s THE Moment To Create the Life You Enjoy Living

Moving abroad is a ‘break in the loop’. We step outside our routine, our patterns, our comfort zone. It is scary at times but, it’s THE opportunity to be who you want to be and actually create the life you enjoy living!

Whether it’s starting a new career, traveling extensively, or immersing yourself in a vibrant local community, your possibilities are endless. But here’s the crucial part: it’s up to you to take action. Without your active participation, that opportunity remains dormant.

2 Women After Moving Abroad Surrounded by Boxes Dealing With The Truths Of Living Abroad
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

Understanding These Truths

We have more than 30 years of experience moving abroad. We know how to do it miserably, and we also know how to do it with confidence and feel great about it. So trust us when we say that …

Understanding these hard truths of life abroad can make a significant difference in your expat adventure.

Life (in our opinion) isn’t just about being physically alive; it’s about fully living it! Life abroad takes this to the next level; it’s about thriving abroad! It’s about diving headfirst into a new culture, learning a new language, and making connections that will last a lifetime – because you’ll always share this special bond of ‘expat life.’ Sure, it’s challenging, but that’s what makes it exciting.

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In a new country, there are no safety nets like the ones you had back home. You’re responsible for your happiness, your success, and your well-being. This may seem daunting, but it’s incredibly empowering. So as long as you prioritize yourself, listen to your needs and work on your mindset – you’ll be fine; Better, you’ll be great!!

Think of it as a crash course in personal growth. You’ll learn to adapt to new situations, communicate across language barriers, and solve problems you never thought you’d face. It’s a journey of self-discovery.

It’s Your Story to Write

Remember, you hold the pen, and every day is a new page in your expat journey. The challenges and triumphs you face are part of your narrative, shaping you into a more resilient, adaptable, and culturally enriched individual.

But this opportunity is only as meaningful as the actions you take. Seize it with both hands, and make it your own.

One last thing before we go: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
It doesn’t mean you have a problem, or you’re weak. It actually makes you brave and smarter. There are people that dealt with what you’re dealing with many times before – reach out to them. 

“You can create a life you actually enjoy living no matter where you are!”

– Maayan & Gal, Co-Founders of Smoozitive

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. So, as you embark on this incredible journey, know that we’re here to guide and support you every step of the way.

You can connect with us or Instagram, or visit our profile on AnyExpat.

Our aim is to assist you in preparing yourself to effectively navigate the hard truths about life abroad, ensuring a smoother and more positive experience.

Sending positive vibes your way ✨
Maayan & Gal
Co-Founders of Smoozitive

About the Author(Smoozitive)

Nice to meet you, we're Maayan & Gal, co-founders of Smoozitive. We're Life Lovers, Expats, Podcasters, Authors, Course Creators, Game Changers, Dreamers, and World's best sisters! Maayan is a certified mindfulness & Ho’oponopono practitioner, and Gal is a certified positive psychology coach. We're also third culture kids (well now adults), change-adept, 4th generation expats, professional smilers, excellent listeners, cheerful duo (we got our Pompons ready), high-energy and moving abroad experts. We are a variety of things (guessing you probably are too); But most importantly, we strongly believe that moving and living abroad can be the experience we dream of rather than the one we fear - if approached appropriately. We want to help you make this transition as smooth as possible and create a life you actually enjoy living no matter where you are... starting, well, how does now sound to you?

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