1. Just go.
Seriously. If you're thinking about it and if there's any part of you that wants to give it a try, just go. Don't give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. Go. Some people have absolutely no interest in moving abroad. That's totally fine. Somebody's gotta hold down the homefront. But if you have any desire to move abroad, that's about all it takes. I mean, how hard could it be? This leads me to #2.
2. The hardest part is the leaving part.
Everyone's scared of moving to a new place. But that foreign country isn't the scariest part. You have to leave your current home. This is the hardest part. "But I have so much stuff and a house and a car," you say. This is why there are buyers and renters and dumpsters. "And so many friends and family I'm leaving behind!" This is true. This is hard. But take it from someone who left before the dawn of Facebook. There is now Facebook. And Skype. These are game-changers. Gone are the days of missionaries leaving on a boat and receiving letters twice a year. Thanks to the magic of social media, your friend's Instagrammed pic of the coffee they're drinking looks the same from 10 blocks or 10,000 miles away.
3. No really, sell your car.
I know it's hard. But if you're going to be gone for any substantial amount of time and you can't take your car with you, just sell it. Your Honda Civic you got in high school will be the last thing on your mind when you step off the plane in your new home (ahem, brother-in-law). Same goes for the rest of your stuff, really. Somewhere in an attic in Virginia we have stuff we never got rid of. Once during a trip home we started to sort through our old boxes and as soon as we found socks without mates we closed that box right up and threw in the towel. What on earth were we thinking keeping all this stuff? A good rule of thumb when deciding to keep it or trash it, ask yourself: Will I think about it after I'm gone? Will I miss it when I come back from fill in the blank amazing country when I have more cool and exotic stuff? No? Rent it. Sell it. Or dumpster it.
|This is how old your car will feel when you return. Seriously, sell it.|
4. Expect to regret it.
Each and every time I've moved to a new country, there has come a point when I have regretted it. I'm not just talking about nervousness or culture shock. I'm talking about the feeling in your gut when you lay down on your first night in a bug-infested mattress in West Africa, or are up to your elbows in Cairene filth as you clean your new apartment, or the morning before you leave for the Congo and have a breakdown in the shower because you're moving to the freakin' heart of darkness. (I mean, speaking hypothetically of course.)
And at the end of the day. If it's really that bad, the plane goes both ways. You can always go back from whence you came. Except you might have already sold all of your stuff...
5. You won't regret it.
Worst case scenario: You hated your experience abroad and moved back home to no belongings. But you still did it! This is more than most people can say. Most realistic case scenario: Your experience was/still is great and you haven't yet moved back home. And if you end up having kids while abroad, they will obviously turn out amazing.
|Just look at these precious, well-mannered expat kids. Photo credit: Jill Humphrey|
* My husband is sweet enough to think I need to clarify to readers that asking me for fashion tips is a joke.
We know many of our readers have also taken the moving abroad plunge. What other suggestions do you have?