What moving abroad taught me

It is not as easy as it seems.

 |  4-minute read |   17-06-2016
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I travel a lot with my husband and partner-in-crime. At every chance we get, and with every penny we can grab, we find ourselves wandering the streets of unknown destinations. And one day we decided to pack our bags and say goodbye to India when the mister found a job in Germany late last year (2015).

It seemed like a great idea - an easy access to European destinations we had on our list, and the chance at a better life.

Though we had never intended to live all our lives abroad, it was a momentary decision. We thought it was our best bet to get away from our lives in India and experience the new.

travelbd_061616085930.jpg The truth is, everyone responds to a smile and is always up for a conversation.

Little did we know that it wasn’t going to be that easy. Here are my two bits for everyone wanting to move abroad:

1. You stop buying anything and everything

When we had to pack everything we had collected over the three years we had been living together, we were sitting on heaps of things we did not even need. We had to literally pack our lives in a couple of suitcases, and move. And since we are not the "we want to spend our life savings on buying a house" types, we realised, we were pretty much going to be on the run, be it abroad or in India.

So, we have stopped buying things just for the sake of it. That means letting go of adorable fridge magnets, tons of posters, utensils, decoratives et al.

2. You begin appreciating your country more than ever

We miss India mainly for its food and people. And miss is an understatement. While living in India, and especially Bombay, we never appreciated our country's value. We often found ourselves complaining of traffic, pollution, population, corruption and god knows what all.

mumbaibd_061616090911.jpg While living in India, and especially Bombay, we never appreciated our country's value.

But you understand what India can give you that no other country can: from the street vendors open long after 2am, or the never-ending season of festivals.

3. Your life turns upside down

Yes, mister got a job, but for me, it was a different level of struggle altogether. A 100 job rejection emails finally pushed me into doing what I always wanted to do – write and photograph and work on my blog full-time.

4. You accept nudity

In Germany, unlike India, people are comfortable with their bodies. Nudity - in gyms, saunas and public places - stops being such a big deal anymore. Yes, it comes as a culture shock in the beginning, but once that is over, you feel relieved with a new-found sense of freedom.

5. Everywhere, everyone is basically the same

This is an important life lesson travel teaches you. I have met people at pubs, networking events, press trips, and have been reassured that caste, creed, gender, skin colour are all superficial.

The truth is, everyone responds to a smile and is always up for a conversation. Being kind, respectful and gracious goes a long way.

6. Life can get depressing

However desperately I wanted a change from my routine life in India, the whole moving got to me after a point. I was not working anymore, which meant, I would be switching roles from being a workaholic to cooking and planning our travels more.

I left behind a whole bunch of friends and felt incredibly lonely. I did not know the language fluently, and I arrived in the peak of winter. The fact is that it is not as easy as it seems.

After a breakdown, perfectly timed with summers, I started making the most of my new life. It is only when your expectations turn upside down that you see the better of life.

7. Losing inhibitions

You learn to open up to strangers, and better still, be able to hold a conversation. Everyone is inquisitive about life in India.

I even managed to exchange my cooking skills with a German guy to teach me how locals talk. Culture becomes a huge part of conversations.

Nonetheless, moving countries brings along broader perspectives, is its own teacher and might be a life changing experience. Shy not, when the opportunity knocks! 


Apeksha Harihar Apeksha Harihar @thing2gether

The author is a travel writer and photographer, documenting her journey on www.thing2gether.com.

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