So the idea of moving abroad for work or studies sounds fun, right? You meet new people, learn new cultures and have the time of your life away from the watchful eye of your family. At the same time, you have to take on the responsibility of your food, safety, laundry, etc, all of which mommy dearest was managing until now.
What’s it like to live alone in another country? Don’t take our word for it—we spoke to millennials who’ve been living abroad and have shared their experience.
Sweta Bhansali, 30-year-old PhD living in Barcelona, Spain, says, “I’m here since five years. And, before that too, I was in Ireland for my higher studies for about one year. As I moved away from home at a young age, it was difficult for me at first. But I didn’t let circumstances take me over.” Hailing from a typical Marwari family, she is deeply thankful for her parents who allowed her to follow her dreams and move out of town. But life certainly wasn’t easy, as there was no princess-like treatment for her abroad. Speaking about the difficulties of living alone she says, “Cooking was the first hurdle. To add to it, I’m a vegetarian so I couldn’t even trust a vendor selling a fish burger in the name of a vegetarian burger.”
And how did she cope with loneliness and longing? She recommends Skype, FaceTime and other such platforms through which you can video-call anyone for help or just to say hi. For help with daily chores like washing, ironing, storing and cleaning, there’s a ton of information available online (or, in most cases, you learn these things instinctively).
We also spoke to Garima Mittal, 32-year-old computer professional living in North Carolina. She is quite upbeat about living abroad with just few things that need to be kept in mind. As she puts it, “(Finding a) residence near your workplace or college is of utmost importance. Not only does this save travel time but money also.” Regarding daily chores she suggests, “There are usually induction cooktops available; there’s no gas stove in foreign countries. Start doing your cooking on low heat. For all decoration related things (to do up your house), visit the dollar stores.” Dollar stores sell several knick-knacks at a low cost, so you can do most of your shopping there. You’ll also find convenience stores like 7-Eleven at every nook and corner to buy everyday stuff like healthcare products, quick microwave meals and more.
Sweta also discusses the issues regarding safety, because you shouldn’t be caught off guard when you visit another country. She says, “Although safety is not at all an issue, I’m still cautious of people around. Homosexuality is common here. So, think before you raise your brows.” Keep an open mind and don’t judge people who are different from you, just as you wouldn’t like to be judged. There’s strict policing in most Western countries so you don’t have to be worried, but it doesn’t hurt to stay alert.
The two girls throw light on an often-ignored issue, loneliness and depression. Although you meet new people, you continue to long for the ones you’ve left behind. According to Sweta, when you feel low, don’t let it get out of hand. Seek help immediately. Garima suggests you keep yourself busy with certain activities or hobbies that you truly enjoy. That way, you also meet new people and avoid being alone at home. Go out, play some sports, make friends (a friendly approach is welcomed by anyone in the world), indulge in good music and books, and you are sure going to sail through.
As both the girls suggest, keep reminding yourself of why you decided to live abroad in the first place—what are the long-term benefits of this decision? Once you’re convinced about your own decision, you’ll learn to accept changes and be open to this new phase of life. Who knows, you might even start enjoying the foreign land more than you did your hometown!
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar