8 Major Things No One Tells You About Living Abroad (From Someone Who's Done It)

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8 Major Things No One Tells You About Living Abroad

Here’s what I did for my twenties: rather than following a traditional path, I’ve done things that don’t fit in the “conventional” sense. I spent more than a decade living abroad in five vibrantly contrasting countries on two opposite continents that taught me a little bit of something about travel.

1. Searching for a place you belong is a delusional activity.

Like many others, I was in a desperate need to find a place I belonged. Sadly (or luckily), it wasn’t at home.

It’s like I was poking a soapy bubble suspiciously wanting to find out what’s on the other side. None of us can know such thing. But I knew for sure; I wasn’t afraid to face it. For all I cared, I could have been slapped in the face with a dead fish, got sold into slavery, or lived alone on an inhabited island making necklaces out of the seashells.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one poking. There were the others. They also were in search of something. "Home" was a futuristic place they were yet to find. I don’t know who on Earth would promise that they ever will?

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2. You don't go abroad to find home.

There isn’t a piece of land where you could land your feet and in an instant feel at home. The truth is, you’ll never be the next Columbus, and you’ll never find this place — because it doesn’t exist.

You go abroad to open your eyes wide open and learn the things that not in a million years you would have learned back home. There you test your abilities, expand your capacities, quadruple your experiences, and slowly but steadily change your identity.

By doing so, you start building a firmer ground underneath. Without ever having a solid ground, the world will always seem a shaky, scary and fearful place to live. Once that’s in place, you build your residence or at least a wobbly nest to start with.

3. You don't stop being a tourist overnight.

Keyword there: forever tourist. You don’t just wake up from a bad dream, roll your bed and feel at home in the new country.

It takes time, patience, and a willing heart. You must stop searching, obsessing and looking for evidence that you somehow don’t fit in, that you’re too foreign, and that others have no clue what price you’ve paid to get here. Because you will always find that evidence. And strangers don’t care what you had to give up to be here.

4. Living anywhere but home isn't walking on marshmallows.

On bad days, you may bruise your delicate ego. It may take some leaps and gambles. You’ll question your decisions. You’ll feel lonely. You may even want to drop a tear or two. But the world won’t end because of that.

Eventually, you wrap your mind around this reality: Your life is much more elastic than you thought it is. You learn who you are and who you aren’t. You find out who you want to be and who you no longer need to be.

Every day presents an opportunity to expand your Universe. Every minute spent outside of everything familiar gives you a fresh perspective, unshakable confidence, and wisdom that you would never acquire if you’ve chosen the safe, predictable path back home.

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5. The world becomes the best tutor that you'll ever hire.

You can go to the best schools, you can have the most excellent teachers, but no one will ever teach you more than a foreign country will ever do. (Please note that I am not against higher education by any means; I’ve got one too.) All I’m saying is that whatever you experience becomes a part of who you are. Whatever you see, do or hear leaves footprints in your life. You become the total sum of your experiences that are beyond the academic education.

6. You no longer remain the same.

And then, a year, two, five go by, and you wake up on a regular day finding yourself a different self. You board the plane and go home 12+ hours away. You land your feet on the ground you once knew so well. The air seems familiar. You could still walk through streets hands and eyes tied up if you had to.

You spend a day there. Then another day. You meet everyone you haven’t seen in a while. You pour your heart out and share everything you learned away from home. Feels nice.

Except…something no longer feels right.

For them, life hasn’t changed much. Maybe they got a pair of babies you’ve already seen on Facebook. Perhaps they moved to a bigger home. Maybe a friend of a friend is getting a divorce.

You understand where they’re coming from and what they’re saying, but you no longer feel like there’s anything but past bounding you. But for the most part, you realize that time has a funny quality; it can draw people closer the same way it drives them apart.

7. You’ll have a chance to change your life for good.

Like a sponge, you’ll suck up vast amounts of cultural information wherever you’ll go. Your ways will change. You’ll have the power to choose how to live, act, love, talk, eat or spend your money just the way you want to. It doesn’t have to be black or white. It doesn’t need to be the way you were always taught.

With all due respect and affection to my upbringing, seeing how others live has forever changed my life. And being fortunate enough to experience such things allowed me to designed my life better than I would have ever imagined.

8. You’ll place your highest bet (your life) on the table.

Most of all, though, I’ve seen what’s possible when you step out of the bubble. When there are no guarantees, promises or certainty about anything. When the only thing you strongly rely on is your curious heart. As it turned out, while I was busy doing me, I somehow managed to build a nest I was talking about earlier.

True story.

And at the end of my days, I know I will thank my curiosity, wild heart, and taste for wanderlust for having blessed me with a captivating, stimulating and passionate existence.

This is why I wish you to live with all your heart, because — I promise — if you put the fears apart and follow your fascinations, desires heart whispers, you just might get lucky enough some random morning to find the place that feels just right.

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Kristina Razinska is a city girl sharing stories on how to live, love and date with passion. She writes for a Cosmopolitan girl that knows there’s more to life than just a perfectly curated Instagram feed.

This article was originally published at Thought Catalog. Reprinted with permission from the author.