Moving abroad is something many of us dream of. It can be to a country far away or a country just near by. Wherever you want to move you need to be prepared for changes and bumps in the road, but also prepared for a lot of fun! I moved abroad from Sweden to London when I was 22. I had never lived away from home, I was shy and I had not travelled a lot. But I still thought I would move!Now afterwards I realise what a courage I must have had! Moving to a completely new city where I knew know one and the language was different.Here is my story and my tips for moving abroad!
As I was 22 when I decided to move to London. I had a seasonal job and I was looking into going to a language course for 3 months. In Sweden we can takes student loan to study abroad and get the tuition fees paid. So I signed up to attend a English language school in the heart of Baker Street in London. The course was 3 months. The accommodation was included, so I had a place to stay upon my arrival.
The day I left, I was in tears. I cried the whole journey and I was thinking – what have I done! I arrived at Heathrow and felt like a lost puppy. I had only been to London once before on a short weekend. As I arrived this time, I had the address for my accommodation but that was pretty much it. I had no clue how to get there, so I took a cab. I remember that journey costing me like 80 pounds!
So there I was 22 years old, being dropped of at Willesden Green. The landlord lady that rented out the accommodation was there to greet me. I got the smallest room in the house! On my first night I cried myself to sleep! All I wanted was to go home! The next morning I called my dad and told him to come and pick me up. He said give it two weeks. If you still feel the same then,I will come. After two weeks I had met a new boyfriend and a new best friend and I ended up staying in London for about 9 years!
After I finished language school I applied to become an Au-pair. I managed to find the loveliest family in Highgate. There was three children to look after and I fitted in very well in the family. After my 1 year there I applied to start University in London. I thought I might get accommodation as I was a student from abroad. However as I was already a UK resident when applying. I was not granted accommodation. So I moved out a very tiny ( I mean tiny) studio flat. It wasn’t much, but it was my first place where I lived alone. I studied hard a London Metropolitan University.
After graduating I landed my first job, as a manager at a serviced office. I worked hard for many years and lived a everyday life in London. After a few years my relationship ended and I felt like it was time to move home. I had then been in London for about 9 years. Today sitting at home in my sofa in Sweden in feels like a completely different life. But it was the best thing I ever done! I am who I am today because of that. I am outgoing, I am hard-working and I am independent.
What to do before moving abroad
- Research the city and what to expect.
- Find accommodation. It is always good to have somewhere to sleep when you arrive. Also when you look for jobs they will need your address and so on.
- Apply for a course in advance. There are many language schools where you can study for a few months and during this time you can get a better feel for the country,the people and the culture.
- Ensure have all paperwork’s sorted. How long can you stay and how much can you study and work in the country you move to? What are the restrictions in your country and in the country you are moving to. Will you need visa?
- Have your financed sorted. Be prepared not to have an income for a while, until you settled in and found a job. Keep a spreadsheet of your expenses. How much will you need to manage for example 3 months. Be prepared to live on a tight budget to start with.
- Apply for jobs. Sometimes this can be a struggle, because employers will want to meet you as soon as possible. But you can start signing up with job agencies and try and book in a few appointments beforehand.
- If you are studying, make sure you are prepared for that. What books do you need. Can you order online in advance. Brush up on your language skills. Studying at a University abroad can be very daunting and challenging with having seminars in another language. So ensure you feel prepared.
- Don’t pack to much. Take the most necessary things. Then buy things as you arrive in your new city.
- Ensure you have insurance. What happens if you get sick etc.
When you arrive
- If you starting university, maybe visit the university a few days before start. So that you don’t feel lost on your first day.
- If you are looking for work, get going straight away. Although applying online is efficient I also went out to shops, coffee shops, restaurants and handed out my CV directly to the employer.
- If you don’t have any friends, go get some! There are usually online communities for people living abroad. Go meet up with others in the same situation as you.
- Take the bus! When I first moved to London I went by tube everywhere. That led me to not knowing anything about the city. Then the 2005 terrorist attack happened and I started to take the bus. With that I also learned new streets, new areas etc. You can sit on the bus, see a nice area, get of, walk around and then get on the bus again. It is the easiest way to get to know your new city!
- Sign up with a local GP, so that if you get sick you have somewhere to turn.
During your stay
- Ensure you go back home and see your family. You are off on an adventure, but they are home missing you, so go see them!
- Have respect for the country you are living in. Follow their laws and regulations.
- Travel around in the country you are staying. Go see other cities. Do a weekend trip in that country.
- Go sightseeing! Go to museums, go to art galleries, go explore. It is an easy way to get to know the city and the culture.
- Take pictures, so you can remember you stay, regardless if it is 3 months or 3 years.
- Enjoy yourself and have fun! You will want to look back at think happy thoughts.
So there are some of the tips I have and that I thought of after moving back home again. Have you ever lived abroad? If so where? If you could live anywhere in world where would it be and why?