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- Moving abroad can be a great way to embark on new career possibilities or life experiences.
- It’s a good idea to do your research beforehand, considering money, cultural differences, language, paperwork, loneliness, and other factors.
- Below are 14 guide books, travel blogs, and memoirs to read before moving to a different country.
For some people, there may be one silver lining to living through this pandemic: A renewed perspective of what you want in your life — or, more specifically, where you want to live when it’s safe to freely travel again.
Living in another country may have been calling you for years, or it could be a completely new goal. As remote work becomes increasingly common, this can be a perfect opportunity to start researching if going overseas is a good fit for you.
But before embarking on a new journey, it’s imperative to consider everything it entails and not just the glamorous fantasy of living elsewhere. I’ve lived abroad for eight years so I’m all too familiar with the emotional component of being far away from family and friends — missing birthdays, holidays, weddings, and newborns; navigating cultural nuances, and dealing with bureaucracy.
I’ve met people abroad, who, a few months in, throw in the towel. Reasons to go home early range from realizing how crucial it is to actually know the language to assuming life will be just like a more exciting version of home. But when you’re in another country, emotions are amplified and even mundane tasks, like grocery shopping or figuring out public transportation in a foreign tongue, can be challenging, lonely, and overwhelming.
Michelle Lara, 35, who’s lived both in Spain and England, wished she had been more aware of recent immigration changes before moving abroad. As a Latin American, she says “Being aware of the racial undertones would have helped — [she] hadn’t realized a few years prior, Spain had allowed entry to a lot of Latin Americans — not a bad thing — and racism against Latin Americans had risen in the country.” She hadn’t anticipated that how she looked would affect how Spaniards interacted and treated her. “My white American friends had an easier time being accepted than I did because of how they looked,” she explains. “I wished I had been more aware of that so I could be mentally and emotionally prepared instead of blindsided by it.”
Mikaela Ferguson, 25, creator of Voyageurtripper, was very prepared when she left Canada and moved to New Zealand in 2018 with plans to stay permanently. However, she hadn’t considered how much she would miss her family, “While I loved my time in New Zealand, I ended up returning to Canada because I realized how much I value close proximity to my family — my parents are aging and I don’t want to be a 24-hour plane ride away from them.“
But sometimes, the potential pains of moving really do pay off and create a profound sense of home. Biche, 42, creator of Chick About Town, moved from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to Montreal when she was 16 to study engineering, but when she was 22, moved to Nairobi and has lived in East Africa ever since.
“Although I lived there for six years and got the education I had intended to get, I very quickly realized that life in Canada wasn’t for me,” she says. “The social distance I experienced in large part due to being a visible minority (I am a Black woman). My daily social interactions, for the most part, lacked the social warmth that I had always been used to in different parts of Africa.“
If you find yourself intrigued by the possibility of moving abroad, below are several guides and memoirs to help you research, plan, and prepare to make the leap — or just figure out if it’s truly what you really want to do.
14 guide books, blogs, and memoirs to read before moving abroad:
This is a fascinating memoir about Zeba, a Saudi Arabian woman who leaves her country and travels to India and Germany before settling in the UK. She shares her experience of finding financial freedom while foregoing the traditional path and what is and was expected of her. Talkhani intertwines anecdotes of her life growing up and living in the UK and how, no matter what, how she always felt like an outsider simply by living in a country different than the one she grew up in.
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