A blog post showed up on my Facebook feed a couple days ago that caught my eye – “5 Depressing Side Effects No One Tells You About Moving Abroad”. As someone who is currently living abroad and has no plan of stopping my country hopping any time soon, I was curious to see what the author had to say.
Let me say, I couldn’t disagree more! Like the author of this article, I too have lived in 5 countries but I’ve had a completely opposite experience. So, I figured it would be worth sharing the other side to these not so “depressing side effects”.
1. Your loved ones will be devastated.
I was 17 the first time I moved abroad without my family. This can be considered pretty young for someone to move abroad though it was through a Rotary International Exchange so there was tons of support for me. But even as a teenager, when I told my parents that I wanted to move abroad for a year, they weren’t devastated. They were actually kind of proud that I was interested in this kind of experience. As I grew older and continued to move abroad more, my parents continue to support me and are always there at the airport/train station smiling as they wave goodbye. I’m sure they wish I was around more (especially my mom) but they are also so proud that they’ve raised a daughter who is adventurous and resilient enough to make it in a foreign country.
2. You’ll feel guilty all the time.
Nope. I don’t really feel guilty about anything. Whether you are living in your home country or abroad there will be circumstances that prevent you from being at every family event or friend’s party. There is no reason to have guilty thrown upon you. While living in Canada, I’ve missed family parties or gatherings because of work or lacking the logistics to travel the 2 hours to get to where the event was being held. Sure, I’ve probably miss more while living abroad but I don’t feel any more guilt than I did missing things while living at home.
3. You’ll feel really, really lonely.
Yes, loneliness is inevitable during long term travel but it’s usually short lived. I’ve learned to be happy on my own and doing my own thing. Talk to any solo traveller and they will tell you the awesome things that can happen by being alone even if it gets lonely sometimes. When you can say that you are happy being alone, I don’t think that situations like the author mentioned about her Christmas in America will make you feel lonely. P.S. I had a blast celebrating Christmas in New Zealand with a bunch of backpackers I met the day before.
4. You won’t fit in anymore.
I didn’t fit in while living in Canada. I actually felt like I fit in more while living in Singapore than I did back home (I know, it’s weird). And the questions she said you’ll start asking “where do I belong? Where is home? Where do I want to grow old?” Yes. I have these questions all the time (and written a few posts about trying to find home). But I also see these as very exciting and positive questions. The world is such a big place so why not search that one place that make you excited to wake up there every morning. And nobody said you need to have the same home forever. I think that is what appeals to those of us who move abroad. This point is true but it’s not a bad thing.
5. You’ll lose dear friends.
You’ll lose dear friends whether you live abroad or across town. Losing friends is something that just happens as you grow up. You grow up, create a life of your own with your career and start a family and grow apart. It’s a phenomenon not limited to those who move abroad. It may be sad that you aren’t as close to these people anymore but it’s nothing to get hung up over. You have friends now and will continue to make more and maybe one day you can reconnect with those who you grew apart from. But like I said, this happens to everyone no matter where you are.
So while these things could show up when living abroad, I would also hope that they never stop your decision to live in a foreign countries. This are minor issues and in my case no issue at all. All my friends and family completely support and encourage me in moving abroad because they want me to succeed in both my personal and professional life and moving abroad is how I’ll do that.