Since I was a teenager, I dreamt of moving abroad. I wanted to explore the world, see new places, meet people from different cultures.
But upon graduation, common sense took the upper hand. I got a good job offer in my home country and got into a relationship. Even if my new boyfriend shared my adventurous spirit, our careers took off and we got soundly settled.
Years passed by, happy years, but the itch remained. Traveling didn’t fully satisfy it.
One random weekday, one year ago, brought the change we were looking for. My – meanwhile – husband got a job offer in Thailand, an even more exotic destination than we had in mind.
So it won’t surprise you that we made up our mind quickly: we were moving to Bangkok! We sold our apartment, packed only the necessary, and gave a big hug to our friends and family.
One year later, I couldn’t be happier with our decision. But life isn’t entirely how I imagined it, and I’ve learned some surprising lessons by moving across the world. Here are the 5 ones that struck me most!
1.You’re capable of more than you think
When we decided to move abroad, I quit a job that I was working in for a long time, in a field that I’ve graduated in. After the initial joy and freedom of not having to go the office, I felt the urge to be productive, to create something.
Being in a completely new environment – and in a city with a bustling entrepreneurial vibe – sparked my creativity and sense of adventure. I’ve always loved writing and fashion – why not combine both passions and start my own fashion blog?
This whole idea would have sounded crazy in my previous life: I didn’t study fashion nor had I any experience with building a website, to name just a few objections. But now I felt I had nothing to lose and I just went for it – my blog Treasurista (https://www.treasurista.com/ ) was born.
And from one day to another I was realizing my dream, I became a blogger. I learned that it’s often you that stands in the way of your own dreams. You believe you can’t do it, that you will fail. And you sabotage your project before it even sees the light.
I am now convinced that you can do anything you set your mind to. You simply have to DO it and be motivated to work hard for it. And you don’t have to move abroad for this, you can start here and now!
2.Living in a different culture makes you more aware of your own
We all grow up in a set of habits and opinions that are part of our culture, and that shape our mind. We’re often unaware of them, but they subconsciously influence how we look at life.
Traveling opens you up to new ways of thinking, and moving to a place with a different culture does that even more. You get a profound insight into how other cultures think and act, which makes you aware of all the unconscious aspects of your own.
For example, one fundamental aspect of the Thai Buddhist lifestyle is mindfulness. One of the (many) things that struck me when arriving in Thailand, is the pace of living. Being used to the daily rush of commuting, it surprised me that Thai people walk calmly to their work (or wherever they need to be). Though it may be annoying at first, adopting this slower pace of living can truly be liberating. It’s all about living in the present moment, without worrying about the past or future.
Stopping the rush and enjoying the present moment is a big game-changer for me. It prevents me from missing out on experiences because I’m caught up in past or future thoughts.
Here I share more lessons I learned from Buddhism.
3.Your friendships and relationships will evolve
I’ve learned much about friendships, both with the people at home and the new ones I make.
Moving abroad will perform a natural selection of your true friends back home. At first, you may be reaching out a lot to your old connections, but this will decrease the more you get settled in your new country.
You’ll naturally find out which friends stick, even without the need of frequent contact. You’ll see which friends bother to visit you abroad, or who you’re eager to see when you’re back home.
With new relations, I’ve experienced a very different way of making friends. In the past, you’d make friends mostly where you lived, went to school, or worked. Not everyone matched you as perfectly, but the friendship grew on your frequent contact.
When you move abroad, often at a later age, you know yourself much better already and the people that you want to surround yourself with. Based on your previous friendships and experiences, you know what you’re looking for in people. I noticed I now know within minutes of meeting someone if there’s a connection or not, and in a relatively short period of time, I’ve surrounded myself with people who I can call true friends.
4.You’ll learn new things about yourself (and your partner)
I’m in my early 30ies now, married to a man who I’ve known for 10 years. You think you know all there is to know about yourself and each other, but moving abroad still sheds a new light.
You both wind up in new situations: a completely different job, finding structure in life, making new friends. I’ve discovered new aspects about my character and that of my husband.
I must admit it hasn’t always been easy in the very beginning. You have to find a new balance in your own life – usually, there’s one partner with a stable job and one without – and in your life as a couple. But once you pass that process, you’ll find yourself stronger than ever and you’ll feel like an unbeatable team.
5.You’ll reassess your notion of a dream life
We all fantasize about our dream life, one in which we can escape the routine and do only things we like. One where the sun shines all the time and you have no worries on your mind. I was doing the same.
Well, guess what, it rains in Thailand too. Unless you win the lottery, you’ll still have to work in the most exotic country. You still have responsibilities and you’ll be settling in a new routine.
And the interesting thing is that you’ll be looking for it – as exciting as a move abroad is, after some time you’ll feel the need for structure, to surround yourself with familiar faces and favorite places.
After a period of hanging out by our new condo’s pool, I’ve noticed that I missed working and being challenged. I realized that my dream life included a project of my own, starting an online business, rather than just lying on a coconut-fringed beach (well, in Thailand you can actually do both).
And so my adventure continues. Living it to the fullest, in all its surprising ways.
Photo credit: Gabriela Oliveira Photography