The ups and downs of moving abroad

 I took action, I said goodbye, and off I went on the plane. I had absolutely no clue what would await me in Groningen. I didn’t expect to bluntly be thrown into cold water. I think that even though Groningen doesn’t seem to be the right destination for me, there are some major takeaways from my journey for anyone who’s thinking about moving abroad to study or anyone who has and can relate:  

  1. There is not reset button in life

Of course, I didn’t really say goodbye. Looking back, this almost seems naïve. I thought many of my connections and ties could evaporate because I was so far away. I thought moving means hitting a reset button. I thought I suddenly would be someone else and that people would be completely different. And most of all: I thought “being away” equals “better”.

But you’re still the same person. Life is life. People are people. Here and there. You still have to work hard on relationships, on yourself and on creating success. Living abroad is not “cooler” than living at home. It’s still simply a change of scenery. The sun rises and the sun sets. And you have to make the most of every day, no matter where you are. You will struggle, just as if you were back in your home town. It’s still your life and not just a big long vacation.

That being said – it’s NICE to be able to make a change of scenery like that. It inspires and influences you in new ways and it gives you perspective that you otherwise wouldn’t have had. I think there is also a big difference between travelling and actually moving. When you travel, you see, you observeyou get a lot of impressions all at once. When you move somewhere, you should become part of that scenery. You experience the life after being swallowed be all the first impressions.

2. Its not always what you imagine it to be 

It’s not only sunshine and rainbows (especially not in the Netherlands!). The imagination of you driving through cute narrow streets with your well- functioning bike and the afternoon sun kissing your cheeks is not really a thing. I was rather cycling next to big buses that would splash a fountain of water over me while I was swearing and cursing out loud in German how I regret all life choices. Until I was back in my cozy room and remembered that life at home would still be the same life, not better, not necessarily worse. And that there’s also rain in Austria. 

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But, if you push through all the shitty moments: this is what you’ll 100% learn and gain: 

(A) Connections

You are truly being forced to be open and talkative. You have no choice but to go to every social event that is coming up simply for the sake of meeting people. It can be exhausting and draining, but at the same time so fascinating. I’ve heard many incredible stories and experiences from people that come from literally every corner of this world. I learned a hell of about cultural differences, how people work and about what motivates them. I had countless eye- opening moments and encounters. I made connections. I made friends. And I wouldn’t trade these things for anything in the world.

(B) Finding yourself

Travelling on my own meant spending more time with my dope self than ever before. It meant countless one-person-breakfasts, lunches and dinners and a lot of going- alone- to- parties- where- you- don’t- know- a- single- soul. It also meant figuring out a little more who I am, what I want and what I stand for. I have never been more in balance with myself than now. I began to better understand myself while at the same time trying to grow and improve every day. I became more self- aware and reflective. I put myself first. Not in a selfish kind of way. More in a way that helped me pursue my own happiness. It’s about self- preservation. You can’t pour from an empty cup

(C) Independence, confidence and gaining perspective

And naturally, you’ll gain independence and confidence. I guess that’s part of growing up anyway, but independence comes pretty quickly if you move across Europe on your own. Creating a whole new environment for yourself and building friendships from scratch will build up your self- esteem and can make you feel proud and accomplished. You sort of establish a second home. A place far away from what you’ve been used to. For me, Groningen sometimes seem like a completely different world. My world.

And lastly, I found moving away also extremely helpful to gain a different perspective on “home”. On relationships and friendships, on family life and on my past self. It gave me room and time to think and improve and to have a fresher head when dealing with problems that arise at home.

Now, I’m curious to know what you think are big ups and downs when moving abroad!
Share in the comments, write me on Instagram or an e- mail! (carmen.weninger.pt@gmail.com).
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Have a great week!

Carmen