The pros and cons of living abroad

Sunday, 22 October 2017

There is studying abroad - a very fun and rewarding experience where you get to know a foreign culture and make tons of new friends - and then there is moving abroad for good, which is a whole other experience. I have done both, and while studying in France and the UK has altogether made for some amazing memories, moving to France and working here for the past three years has had many ups and downs that I did not anticipate.

The pros and cons of living abroad


1. You experience the foreign culture in a whole different way


When you study abroad for six month or a year, you're always a tourist in some way. Just knowing that you're only there for a limited amount of time makes you experience things in a curious, positive way. You get to know new things, but you take them in as an outsider. When you actually live in a new country for a long time, you learn even more and actually get to be part of the culture. But this also means that you need to adapt. Because at some point, people stop looking at you like a visitor and expect you to act in a way that is normal to them. After three years, people at work expect me to master the French language just as well as anyone else - and look at me funny whenever I don't understand a word. 

The pros and cons of living abroad

2. You will miss your own country, no matter how many advantages your new home has


No matter how great French cheese and wine is - I got over it after the first few month and have been craving German muesli and potato based meals ever since. This isn't limited to food though - even though French healthcare is so much cheaper than the German one, I still miss all the advantages I used to have when living in Germany (like not paying your doctor in cash, for example). And the funny thing is - I know that I would feel the same way if I were to move back to Germany. I would definitely be missing not paying half of my salary for insurance, haha.

The pros and cons of living abroad

3. Family and friends at home won't understand every aspect of your new life


Since German and French cultures are pretty similar, this mostly concerns little things, but they're still pretty noticeable. For example in France, there is something called PACS which is a sort of marriage, but not as binding and much easier to end. So when Matt and I got PACSed almost two years ago, no one from home really understood what it was, while Matt's family got us gifts and took it very seriously. (It was pretty weird to me - but who doesn't like gifts? ;) )

The pros and cons of living abroad

4. At one point, you'll just start mixing every language you know


...or maybe you won't and that's just me. But ever since I moved to France, I speak French at work, Russian with my parents, German with my friends and watch Netflix or read books in English (because it's pretty difficult to get German books over here). I pretty much don't know any language anymore and Matt and I speak in a horrible mixture of all four. Which is mostly the reason why I'm writing my blog in English - somehow it has become my go-to language for anything not work related...


All in all, living abroad is a great experience in some ways, but you have to really want it in order for it to work. It does take some effort, and especially the first few months are truly not a walk in the park (like getting a social security number - it took me 10 months and countless calls and appointments..). When I moved to France to live with Matt, I did not at all expect it to be so different from studying here. It has its great moments, a lot of difficult parts, and I still really, really miss German Christmas markets. ;)

The pros and cons of living abroad
The pros and cons of living abroad
The pros and cons of living abroad
The pros and cons of living abroad

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