Living abroad is a dream for many. Influencers have made it look unbelievably fancy and easy. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for democratising travel and do believe that it is a force for good that has the power to make the world a more tolerant, accepting, and peaceful place. But today, I would like to shake the myth and talk about the reality and the challenges behind the pretty Insta pics we binge on Every. Single. Day. #guilty
For me, living abroad has been a reality for over 10 years. Over the course of the past decade, I have moved and travelled as much as I possibly could and – now realise – that I have probably involuntarily contributed to the immaculate image this modern nomadic life has. Through this post, I’d like to cut the cr*p and tell you about some of the difficult aspects of this lifestyle.
Why would I do that?
- Well, firstly I think it is important to paint a more realistic picture of what it’s like to live abroad so that – if you were to choose to do so – you would know what you’re getting yourself into.
- Secondly, for those who live abroad already, I’d love to let you know that you’re not alone and that it’s OK not to be OK regardless of where you are, how amazing it is, and how much you’re supposed to be having THE BEST TIME.
1. Multifaceted FOMO
When you live abroad, you‘re in a constant state of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). You worry about missing things back home, missing things where you live, missing things somewhere else in the world where you could be right now.
Personally, the way I’ve tried to deal with this is to have a list of all the places I’d like to see around where I live and then do something new every weekend – helps overcoming FOMO!
Being far away from friends and family brings its fair share of loneliness as well as a feeling of belonging nowhere – neither here nor there.
Putting yourself out there, meeting likeminded people whilst learning to be comfortable on your own has been my coping mechanism to face that daunting feeling that can come with being alone for too long.
3. Can’t share
Have you ever sat through a slide show of a friend’s holiday photos? Be honest, how long did it take you to be bored – five minutes, thirty seconds,
So, what can you do? Honestly, I have no clue. My approach has been to share anyway (
4. Can’t complain
You should be having THE BEST TIME ALL THE TIME. Whether people actually tell you or whether you feel it somewhere within you, truth is the expectation is there. You’re travelling and living abroad, isn’t that the ultimate dream? It is. But it’s hard too sometimes except you can’t say it because, because, because…
As tough as it is, the process must start with you allowing yourself to feel down. Yes, this life is the dream but it doesn’t make it any less of a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and it’s ok to find it hard. Then, find someone who understands and tell them about your struggles. Chances are, they’ll be super grateful to be able to open up to you too. If you don’t find anyone to talk to, call me – that’s what I’m here for 🙂
A few weeks ago, I felt as though I ought to be home. My family needed me, or perhaps I needed them, or – most probably – both at the same time. Either way, guilt overwhelmed me. Why was I so far away? What was I looking for that I couldn’t find back home? How could I live with myself and my selfish choices?
So, I put on some loud French music, ordered yummy French food from my friend La Petite Conserve, and called home. Let’s be honest, I still felt awful but it helped a little.
Thank you for reading this piece until the end. It’s been quite emotional for me to write it so please forgive the lack of detailed personal examples. I just felt it was time – and my duty somewhat – to talk about the challenges of travelling and living abroad as much as I love to talk about all the positives too!
I hope that you’ll find some of the coping tips I’ve included useful. These are just things I’ve tried – some have worked better than others and some might be relevant to you whilst others won’t. Key is to keep trying different approaches until you figure out your own way.
Finally, know that I am always here so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to talk.
How do you cope with the challenges of a life on the road? Leave a comment.
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Keen to read more about my story beyond borders? Check out my travel memoir.