Living abroad : the good and the bad.

It’s been a couple of years that I left France to live in other countries. A lot of people find it inspiring, other quite boring (it’s a trendy thing in our generation), other don’t imagine living their hometown.

Since I am living this experience, I have had so many conversations about preparing your trip, how to adapt yourself in another country, how to speak a language that is not yours, make new friends, build your career… But I think I never listed clearly out loud the positive and negative aspects of it. I spoke a bit about it on my podcast (it’s in this blog if you want to listen to it and are a French speaker).

People have dreamy visions of being abroad. I think it’s a beautiful capacity of our brain and our imagination. We fantasize a lot, creating beautiful boards in our heads about how is it going to be, how we will feel, what we are going to accomplish. It is an amazing process because I think for most of us, it help us make the jump. Actually not only about living abroad but also take a trip on our own, move on from a job, a relationship or try a new hobby.

My entourage really was amazed by my moving to Canada (I was too) and they got even more excited about Miami (USA my life dream become reality). I have been here for a year and I really feel the need to be clear and explicit about what it is to live here. I don’t mean to be pessimistic and discourage people who want to try. I just want to be really honest so the ones of you reading me can have realistic expectations.

Miami is a vibrant city, with a lot of sun, beautiful settings and a big mix of cultures. It is also a city that never stops working, who is very expensive, with bad customer service in almost everything. Miami is unique and I wouldn’t live it. I love my new home and I am proud, me the little girl from Normandy, to have fulfilled my dream to live here before I am 30. Being clear: being here on holidays is not the same as living here. I am not clubbing a lot, going to yacht parties and tanning my ass on the beach every day. What you see on TV and the postal cards are for the tourists. It’s not the reality for the locals. It’s generally 60 hours of work a week and a few times a month to cool down. But I make it work my way and it’s even harder for a lot of other people . Oh and the food is shit and it cost you 400$ to see a doctor when you don’t have a good insurance.

Every city has it specificities, you have to find what suits you. No matter where you go, you will always experience the same things:

The negative sides:

  • Being far away from family and friends. You are going to miss weddings, babies, parties and the daily life pleasures and little comments. Some times are harder than others (holidays, birthdays…) but it also helps to see who are your real friends and which family members you can really count on. I am gone since more than 2 years and I am still talking to friends and family on a daily/weekly basis. It helps cherish the moments you spend with them when you go home.
  • Food : I will be quick here because there is no need to go into details. French food/American food… do I need to say more ?
  • Your cultureĀ : sometimes I really miss being understood for my French weird sens of humour, the references to my shows/favorite artists/movies… My culture and my knowledge of it is really something I miss sharing because it can only be understood by my own…or partially by my auditors here… It takes away a bit of the pleasure of sharing it.
  • You can really kill your budget quickly. Be smart on your savings and work as fast as you can to get back on your feet. It’s stressing enough to be abroad, with no money the nightmare can take a whole new dimension.

The positive sides :

  • This is the biggest and more important one to me : you will grow and learn every day about your strength. Because it takes balls to leave everything behind you for something new and completely unknown. You challenge your comfort zone, your relationships, your financial security. It scary as shit. And yet you did it. And you keep doing it and working it. I used to be really anxious about little things. I don’t anymore. Because I look at what I accomplished and I think “hell yeah I moved by myself to 4 countries with almost no money…I can deal with this little shit easily”. You will be even stronger with time, more flexible and resilient. Fucking badass.
  • You will challenge yourself on your professional side: make international contacts, work on projects you would have never done home. If you stay in the country where you immigrate, it will be a good asset to show you know the local culture and you can bring your own vibe. If you come home, you will have even more leveraged on your competitors.
  • You will create a whole new family : your boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, coworkers, your hobbies buddies… You can create the same deep meaningful relationships then when you were home. It takes time and patience to do so because you are not in your familiar place but trust me you can. Surround yourself with people from your tribe, quantity over quality.

I used to have a lot of “fixed” ideas, now I am more open minded. I know I can be home anywhere, I know what matters is to be at peace with myself, have a good health and quality relationships in my life.

The lessons I have learned, I wouldn’t have learned them staying in my home town, with my family around. Because I wouldn’t have met all of the people I met, did my jobs and faced these challenges.

So hell yeah, if you can, move abroad, for 6 months or 6 years. But be aware it is not going to be only a wonderful adventure full of laughs, unicorns and bills floating around. If you just want to have fun abroad and you are not sure about what you want to do, just go on vacation.

If you really move abroad for more than a holiday, be prepared but have fun along the way.