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What People Don't Tell You About Moving Abroad

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When I tell people about picking up my life and moving abroad permanently I am often greeted with a similar response: something along the lines of "you're so brave" or "I could never do that." While leaving Canada, where I was born and raised, and moving to England on my own was certainly a daunting prospect, I don't consider myself brave. The truth is that it's not as hard as people make it out to be.

To be fair I didn't have to deal with many of the challenges other people weigh when considering an international move. I'm not yet tied down to a family or a mortgage, and leaving to go to university seemed like the perfect opportunity. Coming to an English-speaking country I didn't have to worry about a language-barrier either.

The one word of warning I'm prepared to give is that moving to a city is nothing like being a tourist there.

However I've heard a lot of other young people say they would like to move somewhere else, but they don't think they could go through with it. My advice is that if you are serious, the best thing you can do is to just go for it. I'm not saying buy a plane ticket without a plan, but if you are prepared and willing, I have found that most things have a way of working themselves out.

All of this is not to say there will not be challenges. It is important to prepare for a settling in period, and to understand that period will undoubtedly be uncomfortable. During my first week in London I got lost every single day. I remember coming back to my room at night and crying, genuinely considering the possibility that I'd made a huge mistake leaving Vancouver. However I've found that very quickly you learn to navigate the city, both literally and figuratively, and the experience becomes far more exciting than overwhelming.

I would also say it's important to seriously consider if you actually want to live somewhere else, or just travel. The one word of warning I'm prepared to give is that moving to a city is nothing like being a tourist there. You may love a city as a visitor, but your love will be tested when you are running late trying to find somewhere in a part of town you're not familiar with when it starts to pour rain and your phone dies.

While the tourist oriented parts of the city are still there to indulge in when you can, my life is full of a lot less iconic London black cabs and a lot more being crammed on the tube during rush hour. While I'd been to London before on vacation and liked it a lot, I've learned to love and appreciate London in a completely different way as a resident.

If you are sure you want to move abroad, I can't recommend it highly enough. I do miss my family dearly, but other than that I have found most of the hang-ups people have about moving are not that big a deal. If you immerse yourself in your new city you will quickly figure out how things work. You will develop a routine. You will find your favourite neighbourhoods. Someone will ask you for directions and you will know where to send them. Before you know it you will make friends that feel like family. And then one day, without even noticing it, in casual conversation you will refer to your new city as "home."

There will certainly be difficulties that come with moving abroad, but if you embrace those difficulties they will rarely be insurmountable. So go forth and find home wherever your heart is.

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