And just like that, it’s been three years since I moved to Japan. When I first got here, I only planned to stay for one year but that changed quickly. Living in a foreign country has changed me in many ways. I’m sharing 13 things I’ve learned (and am still learning) since living abroad.
1. Living abroad sometimes doesn’t feel like “real life”- Even with working, paying bills, and doing daily tasks, life abroad can feel like it’s “not real.” I really feel like this now with the whole pandemic going on because it seems like a regular day in Japan compared to the rest of the world.
2. It takes time to adjust in a new country and make it feel like home- I think it took me a year or two to feel like I lived in Japan and wasn’t just on a long vacation.
3. Learning a new language is hard, especially as an adult, but not impossible- In, My struggle learning a new language , I shared that learning some Japanese from nothing hasn’t been easy. But when I actually focus, study, and practice, I’m surprised by what I can do.
4. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number- Many people think that you have to be in your teens or 20s to live abroad. I moved when I was 31 and have connected with people of all ages.
5. Go with the flow-Things you wouldn’t think would happen will happen. You can’t spend too much time thinking about them though or you’ll miss out on so many other things.
6. No “Shoulda, woulda, coulda, or what if’s’- I am guilty of this. It can make you lose sight of the end goal.
7. Mindset is everything- Whew! Anxiety is real! I’ve reached new levels of it in the last three years. Like I said before, I have to keep reminding myself not to constantly think about all the things that went wrong and have a growth mindset.
8. Don’t expect anything to be like what you’re used to- Every country is different in how they go about daily life and handle business. Try not to compare a lot to how things would be at home.
9. Get used to being uncomfortable- Living far from home, looking different, and being challenged by the language can put you out of your comfort zone. Every time I walk outside of my apartment, I expect to be in an uncomfortable situation at least once.
10. You’ll learn new parts of yourself- Being pushed so far out of my comfort zone, showed me what I can really do.
11. Do it even if you’re scared
12. You get out what you put in
13. Be intentional about what you want