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10 Honest Truths About Moving To A Different Country

10 Honest Truths About Moving To A Different Country

There is something incredibly romantic about packing your bags and hitting the road. Maybe it’s the promise of adventure, the adrenaline of being in a place where no one knows who you are, the unpredictability that anything can happening at any given moment, the burgeoning hope of limitless possibility, or the simple excitement of waking up to see the sun rise on a foreign city.

Since time immemorial, moving to a different locale has been sentimentalized by the media. Breakfast At Tiffany’s made the commitment-phobic woes of Holly Golightly seem quite appealing. Under the Tuscan Sun gave us the idea that sometimes heartbreak can lead to olive picking, renovating a crumbling chateau, and meeting a devastatingly handsome stranger. Movies like Burlesque and Coyote Ugly convinced us that it’s possible for a small-town lass to make it in a big city. But uprooting your whole life and replanting it on foreign soil is far more complex than Hollywood would lead us to believe.

When I made my own cross-continental move as a young adult a few years back, I was ready for thrill and adventure. What I failed to anticipate were the days and nights of complete bewilderment; the slow, tedious process of adjustment and the confusing feelings of being transient. Contemplating a big move to a different city, coast, or country? Here are ten honest truths that will prepare you for the challenging but oh-so-worth-it life change that lies ahead.

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1. It takes a lot of planning.

You may think moving is as easy as hitchhiking, but there is a lot to be done beyond just booking a one-way ticket. Where will you live? Will you need to obtain some sort of visa or permit? Do you have a job lined up, or enough savings to tide you over until you do? If something goes terribly awry, who will be your nearest emergency contact? Being practical now will help you keep your feet on the ground once your move has gotten your life in flux.

2. Prepare to be overwhelmed.

The days leading up to a big move will be some of the most hectic in your life. Getting important documents ready, going for medical checkups, putting your life away in cardboard boxes—all these can numb your emotions until the very last minute. But then it hits you like a tidal wave. Expect to be that crazy person weeping like it’s the apocalypse at boarding. Somewhere mid-Atlantic, when you’re on your second glass of wine and the third movie of the flight, doubt and incredible sadness will creep in. Did you make the right decision? Are you insane for doing what you’re doing? Did you just ruin your own life? Relax. Embrace the uncertainty. It’s all part of process.

3. Homesickness is real.

No matter how independent you may be, you will wake up one day violently craving some kind of soup your mom made in your childhood. You will find yourself sitting on your bed, surrounded by used tissues, snotty and unintelligible while on Skype with your best friend. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’re living in two time zones and, for a while at least, that will be the reality. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to whoever it is you’re missing. It’ll help.

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4. You will be challenged in every way possible.

You will get lost. You will feel vulnerable and afraid. You will commit social faux pas. Three weeks into moving to New York, I broke my foot stepping off a train on school orientation day. I was alone and could not walk a single step without collapsing in pain. I ended up having to rely on the kindness of my new classmates and my school’s program director to ice my foot and get me to the hospital. Which brings me to the next point.

5. You will need help.

Don’t be too proud to ask for it. No man is an island. You’ll be surprised at how strangers will step up to the plate and exhibit kindness.

6. Life will go on without you.

There will be countless parties, birthdays, weddings, etc. that you will miss. At first it will feel like a stab in the heart to see people you love celebrate milestones without you. But as a friend of mine wisely told me, “You can’t always be there for everyone’s milestones. Because then you might miss your own.”

7. Homesickness ends.

One day, you’ll wake up and won’t feel the need to weep. You will develop a routine, a rhythm. The streets will start to make sense in your brain and will stop being so unfamiliar. You will meet new people who will welcome you into their tribe. What once felt so scary and strange will start to feel like home. That said, we come to the next point.

8. There’s culture shock, then there’s reverse culture shock.

The day you touch down in your homeland, prepare to find things not quite how you remember. My favorite example of this is escalator etiquette. When I first moved to New York, I didn’t know that the right side of the escalator was for standing still, the left for walking. Now, whenever I visit the Philippines, I have no idea where to place myself escalator-wise. It’s hilarious.

9. You will “go native.”

Ah, the day the rose-colored glasses come off. No matter how in love with a place you are, one day it will feel like real life again. There will be bills to pay and chores to do. Life catches up, and it’s not all fun and games. I knew I had gone native the moment I learned to angrily squeeze myself into a crowded subway during rush hour and developed an allergy to Times Square.

10. Prepare to have your life changed forever.

I thought that moving to a different country “for a couple of years” wouldn’t be a big deal in the long run. I thought I could easily go back to the status quo once my adventuring was over. But those years are your life, and they cannot be compartmentalized. You will grow and make mistakes, discover surprising things about yourself that you didn’t know, push limits and learn to create boundaries, fall in and out of love, and meet some of your best friends in the whole wide world. It will turn your life inside out and upside down. It will change you completely.

Featured photo credit: Transformer18 via flic.kr

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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