The first impression most people have when faced with moving abroad, is simply, “that’s too scary” or “it would be too difficult”. If my 17-year-old-farm-girl-self managed to move to a country where I didn’t speak the language or know anyone, anyone can!
I moved in 2009 to do an exchange semester in Germany. I had saved all my hostessing money, all birthday gift money, everything, in order to do the program with Youth for Understanding (YFU).
In 2010, I returned to study at Jacobs University in Bremen. It was a 3 year, intensive program in International Logistics Management and Engineering.
In 2013 I graduated and the beginning of 2014, I started working at Imperial Tobacco in Hamburg, Germany as a Graduate – Jr. Project Manager.
I often get the question, “why?”. Unfortunately, I have no answer to that question. The best I could give is, “why not?”. At 22 years old, when would I have another chance to travel the world? To live in a dodgy apartment with seemingly nomadic artists? To give up everything and try to make something new work!
There are difficulties which I would have never encountered if I had lived in the US, but these difficulties have shaped me as a person, and I have learned the meaning of patience. Maybe all of this should be saved for a different post. For now, I’d like to give some advice for those interested in moving to a new country!
1. Learn the language beforehand
In Europe, it isn’t always necessary to speak the native language of the country you reside in, but it does make things much, much more simple. For example, when I first arrived in Germany, I didn’t know what “Damen (ladies) und Herren (men)” meant. On some bathroom doors, there is simply a D or an H. This left me waiting until someone came out or in, so I would know where to go!
2. Don’t think too much
If you’re constantly thinking of what can go wrong, you will never leave your comfort zone. Yes, things will go horribly wrong. Yes, you will survive. There will be people who want to help you. There will also be people trying to screw you over. This is everywhere in the world. Trust your judgement and enjoy the adventure!
3. Take advice, but don’t always follow it
If I had listened to every piece of advice anyone has ever given me, I would be living with my parents in the small-town Iowa and would probably be a Veterinarian or something of the sorts. I also would have probably married that red-head farmer my parents were always so fond of. If you think it’s what you want to do, GO FOR IT! The timing will never be perfect, but the younger you are, the more time you have to catch up and make-up for your mistakes. 🙂
4. Stop delaying
The best time is now. Never postpone your dream. There will come a time when it is too late. Now is not that time. I have met women who moved with children, men who relocated for a woman, a family from the States who came so their sick daughter could get health insurance. There is every story under the book! You won’t be the only person in your situation.
5. Social Media is Your Best Friend
I met almost all of my friends at school, work or through other friends. However, some of the most amazing people I have met, was through Facebook. I joined several groups for people who are from out-of-town and went to some meet-ups. I will tell you that there are SO many sites to meet other people in the same situation. I am almost ashamed to say that the majority of my friends are also “Ausländer” (foreigners). We just have more in common!
Any questions? Need anymore advice? Let me know!