Not many people would disagree when I say that moving abroad is probably one of the best ways to get to know yourself. Together with practically all other decisions that force you completely out of your comfort zone and onto a new experience by yourself. Naturally there are different everyone is different and will therefore have a different experience when moving abroad. However seeing as this is the second time that I left my comfortable home to (temporarily) live somewhere else, I would like to share with you the things that I discovered about myself.
1. How socially engaged you are
It probably goes without saying, but moving away/abroad really shows you just how (un)social you are. Are you able to push yourself by making small talk, are you spontaneous and open to making new friends? The first time I moved abroad it was part of an exchange to another university, this meant that I was constantly surrounded by like-minded students and other exchange students that I could easily relate to and become friends with. However, now I find it a lot more difficult to actually meet people. To me it is no surprise, since I have always known that I am an introvert that likes her occasional (more like daily) alone time. Working fulltime also limits my ability to meet up with people, as (again I am a introvert) I have to do tons of chores around the house and would also like to relax a little by reading a book or watching series before starting the new week. Priorities people ;)
2. Are you able to adapt to your surroundings?
How flexible are you? Are you able to improvise? These are things you really get to know about yourself if you move abroad. Life is full of surprises, especially when you are somewhere new. Are you able to just let go of possible frustrations and to go with the flow? Both of my experiences have been pretty inside my comfort zone if I'm being completely honest with you. Santiago de Compostela is a small place, which made it really easy for me to familiarise myself with my surroundings and the people. At times it might have been a tad too small and it was a place that definitely made me appreciate my home a lot more. Now in London, I have to adapt to the lifelines of a big city. There is never a dull moment in this city. Although I had been to London plenty times before, living somewhere is always different from visiting.
3. How much you value the people in your life
One thing that is very difficult about moving abroad is leaving everyone else behind while you are going on this adventure. Arriving somewhere new somehow makes you really appreciate the people that are in your life. The people that make you laugh, cry, that encourage you to be the person you are today. Be it your family, your friends or your loved ones, when you are abroad you will come to appreciate them even more. I have given this some thought and I came to the conclusion that this is a stage beyond missing; instead of missing the people that used to be in your life you get to meet new people, that become equally important to you. However that doesn't mean that you stop missing your loved ones at home, instead you start appreciating them, which I think is a much stronger feeling than missing.
4. Do you live in the moment?
Something I have been struggling with, but am improving everyday. Living in the moment and enjoying (almost) every second is so important. It is so cliché but true; life is short and you only have one shot. Yes, you should work hard to achieve your goals but while you are doing so, don't forget to enjoy the journey. For years I have been so focused on achieving goals that I completely ignored the fact that I was living and that I should enjoy living. Looking back at that time now, while being so close to achieving (most) of these goals, I know I will never get those years back and I regret not having enjoyed them as much as I should have. I am not saying that you should go out every night while you are abroad, spend loads of money and be irresponsible (unless you enjoy that of course). What I am trying to say is that you should be aware of your accomplishments so far and take the time to enjoy life by doing something you like every now and then.
5. You really get to know yourself
The biggest revelation of an experience abroad is that you truly get to know yourself. I understand that this might sound a bit odd, since you are yourself and how can you possibly not know yourself right? Well, let me just tell you that we all think we are in touch with ourselves and what we do and do not enjoy. But it is not until you are completely alone and out of your comfort zone that you get to discover the things that you enjoy doing, and most importantly the things that you don't enjoy doing. All of a sudden you have loads of free time to fill up, a completely new life to assemble and it is how you fill these blanks in that determine what you do and do not enjoy. Are your hobbies different from back home? Did you stop going to the club because you realised you only went because your friends enjoyed it? Did you start knitting? Pay attention to the new things in your life, and to the things that are no longer there and ask yourself why this has changed. Was it by coincidence or because you unconsciously decided to start or stop doing something?
Lots of Love,