I have been living here in Ireland now for over a year, nearing two and few weeks ago, I had my whole family over for my graduation. It was glorious and a lot of fun (a bit exhausting, but that was expected when people come to visit) but it also reminded me in a weird way of one thing, I don’t think about on a daily basis:
I live in Ireland.
Living abroad is a weird concept that most of the days does not even remotely cross my mind. It is so weird to think that I live in a different country than all the people I grew up with and that the house in which I broke my nose, stepped on a dead mouse, and stood crying and covered in green aloe vera jelly in front off after I fell head over heals into a sea of stinging nettles (all stories for another day) is geographically so far away from where I am now. It makes me feel strangely lonely and lost, but when I look at my friends i realise that I have a life here, made new memories (no stinging nettles so far, knock on wood) and found a comfortable place to live, which leaving behind in the future will be weird, too.
Since I have been doing this for a while, I thought it might be time to open the big book of life wisdom that all opinionated people get, by the time they are born, and hand out some advice for living abroad:
- You gotta put some effort into those relationships!
Your family and friends are most likely not be abroad, experience a new country or making all these amazing international friends, but they don’t stop moving and living their life just because you are gone. Message them, catch up and let them talk about the parties and the new friends you have never heard of every once in a while. You have been talking about your new stuff a lot. Oh and call your grandparents, they love and miss you!
- Forget about jealousy and FOMO!
Since we are already talking about friends, don’t be mad or jealous when they start talking about that funny girl in their course or the amazing waterpark they went to. It is easy to forget, how amazing your opportunity is to be in the new country, experience a new and different culture first hand and meet amazing and funny people yourself. Oh and maybe a waterpark they have never heard of.
- What is the plan!
Okay, let’s talk a little business: What are you doing with your life? Do you want to stay in this country forever, do you want to travel somewhere else or come back home? I know, it seems to ruin the beauty of the moment, but to be honest, however, this can be the make or break point of the whole experience: renting a flat, getting a job, doing grad school. All of these things require you to answer one simple question: For how long?
- Try new things!
I know, the food looks weird, the songs sound so different and let’s not talk about fashion. But you know what? This is your new normal, so embrace it. Try new things and see how you like it, I mean, the people in your new town or country have been living with these traditions and styles for years now, how wrong could they be? Also, nobody wants you to give up your culture, just see what this one is about. I promise you, even though I have been in Ireland for a while, I am still very much German. I have just way more patients with maintenance people.
Ireland has become my second home in this world. I have found friends who are basically a second family and I will always come back here. This country and these people have changed me for the better and even when it was hard I wouldn’t change anything. Not even for a million euros (even though I could really use those…)
Okay, we have finally reached the reader’s participation bit of the post: Have you ever lived abroad or would you ever? What are your tips for living in a new country?