Travelling has always been fashionable; whether you’re a bohemian minimalist or a blatant millionaire doesn’t appear to stop you from enjoying the fruits of globalization and travelling to other cultures near and far. Some people, like yours truly, took it as far as making that foreign culture into a home. Unsurprisingly, living abroad guarantees foreseen and unforeseen problems as well as invaluable experiences, which you might not have encountered had you not fled the nest.
Naturally the first challenge to represent itself is the language. It is advisable to learn, at least little, of the national language but even if you were fundamentally speaking the same language, the regional and socioeconomic differences are quickly to be discovered. Linguistic misunderstandings can be expected. In this respect, the immigrant must be prepared to make plenty of mistakes. As frustrating as it may be to be always be considered the “silly one” due to your grammatical imperfections, it might oddly make you all the more attractive for the locals.
No matter where you are in the world, it is essential to have friends. But when living in a country where the language differs greatly from that of your own, it becomes even more important to have friends who are prepared to support you through no matter the weather. After all, you may (and probably will) have minor bureaucratic problems which will have to be cleared in forms of letters and phone calls: situations in which you want to make sure you will be correctly understood. It may be difficult to have to rely on people who have no real obligations for you but it is sometimes inevitable. Perhaps you will be able repay the favour in the future.
Sometimes this new circle of friends will also have to operate as your family away from home. Moving out of your home country often means being separated from your real family for an indefinite amount of time. Even if you were capable of visiting them every few months, there will always be a number of worries running about in your head at the time of your departure: is it alright to leave everything I owe my life to? Do they actually need me here? Will my dear old grandma still be here when I return? These questions remain as long as you still got someone in your home country hoping for your return, but after a length of time returning will be equally as difficult.
However, family is not the only thing you will be leaving behind. The small luxuries that build your lifestyle will be exchanged for other unknown luxuries of your new land. You may have to say goodbye to your favourite rye bread, chocolate, condensed milk, just-add-water porridge, long drinks and cider, grandmas cooking, Shopping Sundays, paying everywhere by credit card, public transport and other trivial things. As a result, you may find yourself spending time in specialist’s shops where you will be paying ridiculous sums of money just to be able to taste Strongbow every now and then. Finally once you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, you begin to realize that the local wines are actually quite refreshing despite the doubled amount of alcohol. For everything else, you can always stock up on your next visit in your home country.
The climate might also be a cause of a culture shock. If you are moving to or from the coast, to north or south, your body should nevertheless get accustomed to the climate within two weeks; whether you will is a completely different question.
Of course, letting something go does not mean you will not be getting something in return. Living abroad is certain to improve your communication skills, widen your worldview and establish relationships with people of different backgrounds. Additionally it looks good in your résumé.