So you watched Eat Pray Love once and now you want to move across the world. What do you do?
You go, of course.
That happened to me many many years ago. I was obsessed with romanticizing life abroad and after my first trip to Europe it was settled. I was taking my life across the ocean as soon as possible. I’m now uprooting my life and joining the expat club; if I am not Julia Roberts by the end of this I will be very upset.
Talk to anyone who has lived in a new place and they will tell you that it sucks the first few months. It does, it sucks a lot. Every time I’ve left home to live somewhere new I was miserable until the end, when I lived in Swaziland for just a summer I wanted to go home every day until the last week. That’s because it takes more than one month to acclimate. Honestly, it’ll probably take you six months, I know that’s how long it takes me.
Knowing this now, I knew that I had to force myself to be contracted somewhere for at least a year. I need to go through the months of loneliness and questioning to finally realize why I am there. It may sound crazy, but if you live your entire life dreaming to live in a new place, isn’t it worth it? Anywhere you go you are going to face newness, the only difference is this comes with a new culture and language as well.
Step one for me was learning the language. I chose France as my destination. I was an innocent freshman and that has now led up to near fluency (by American standards) and I feel comfortable in going and not feeling left out amongst native speakers. Check one!
Step two is cleaning everything out. I’m already a lover of donating and selling and I am very adamant that I do not want to hoard. I definitely find myself being a hoarder and that is just not logical for where I’m at right now; I’m 21 and will probably be moving at least ten times in the next ten years. I just don’t need it. You can read more about my cleaning out here. My goal is to only need two suitcases to move my life overseas, and for many people that’s a lot. For me, that’s an attainable stretch.
Step three is practicing being alone. I have some friends who would rather die than go eat alone at a restaurant, let alone travel by themselves. Luckily for me, I was single a majority of my college career (lol a blessing and a curse), and I did a lot of things alone. I transferred schools, which meant a second wave of loneliness. And I ended up loving it. I did so many things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Sure, it’s much better to have friends, but you need to learn to be at peace with being by yourself. Be confident in yourself! It feels powerful to know that I can go to a movie theatre without a date, that I can go to dinner alone and relish in it, and that I can navigate a city by myself. Try it sometime (post quarantine of course).
Okay, now the freaking out part. It’s okay. At least, I keep telling myself it’s okay. I am a planner, I like knowing the next step and having a visual for what is about to come. I romanticize and I also think of the worst possible outcome. I get very much in my head and often make rash decisions. Luckily, I haven’t done too much of this before the upcoming very important stage of adulting, but I definitely have in the past. And you know what? I’m fine now, so it must not have gone too poorly. Freak out, cry, complain to your mom, and then watch Eat Pray Love all over again, look at your travel Pinterest board, and remember that you’re doing the right thing.