What Bloggers Say About Living Abroad

 

I asked 4 bloggers who are all living far away from home, what they thought about their lives abroad.

Here is what they had to say:

“It happens to the best of us.  But, know that you will get through it and in actual fact will probably experience reverse culture shock when you return to your home country!” Jenna (A Home Away From Home), living in Johannesburg, South Africa

“It’s easy to let culture shock overwhelm you, especially reverse culture shock when you go home, but I always try to look at things from their perspective and respect the differences rather than be caught up in them.” Marissa(The Boot), living in Barletta, Italy

“Top of my head… man bags. The men in the South of France carry man bags. And sure we can call them man bags all we want but we all know that they’re really purses. In fact, my husband’s cousin carries a beautiful Gucci bag and his brother, a Louis Vuitton. I never thought I’d be jealous of a man’s purse but there you go. Welcome to France.” Sara (Sara in Le Petit Village), living in Provence, France

“Germany is very much like my home country America in a lot of ways. It differs only in small ways: there is very rarely air conditioning during summer, people don’t use dryers when doing laundry, cream comes only in liquid form and must be whipped at home after purchase.” Daryl (Roots, Wings and Other Things), living in Frankfurt, Germany

 

“Learn it!  Although it may be difficult, learning the local language will enhance your time abroad immensely and will also prove to be an invaluable resource.” Jenna

“It’s inevitable that this will be a hurdle, but once you tackle it, you’ll feel like a local. Four years later I’m still making language mistakes but it’s refreshing to know that I’m learning every day.” Marissa

“It’s difficult. There’s a big difference between deciding that you would like to take a foreign language class as a hobby and for fun, and having to take lessons because you absolutely have to. It’s not nearly as much fun, but obviously a necessity, so learn I must. One thing I know for sure is this… any of you parents out there, start your kids on foreign languages early, they’ll learn easier and be better off for it, because you never know where they could end up. Trust me, they’ll thank you later.” Sara

“The grammar is killer – but like any other language, if you just get out there and try to speak it, you will pick it up eventually. I have lived in Germany for a year and can communicate in day to day situations but could hardly call myself fluent.” Daryl

 

 

“One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to try so many new foods and local dishes.  Try and branch out as much as possible, but also allow yourself to have a good ol’ McDonald’s burger every once in awhile.” Jenna

“I love the food here but miss American goodies all the time. I try to recreate my own Italian versions of things and bring from home key ingredients that I can’t find here: baking powder, honey mustard, tea bags, etc.” Marissa

“France takes food seriously and I love them for it. It’s not necessarily all about complex dishes, they take pleasure in cooking a simple dish, but perfectly and using the freshest ingredients. And when you sit down to eat a meal here, it’s not a rushed affair, we take our time and savor every course. When I have Sunday lunch at my in-laws, I know that I’ll be sitting at the table for at least three hours. It’s heavenly.” Sara

“German food is amazing. Give me schnitzel, spargel, and spatzle and you have one very happy Daryl. Traditional German food is very meat-and-carb heavy, and they LOVE their beer.” Daryl

 

“I’ve found that living abroad is a great way to meet a lot of really fun and diverse people.  However, leaving family and close friends at home is tough and can leave one feeling lonely or disconnected at times.  Try and foster new friendships abroad, but also stay connected with friends and family at home through skype calls, post cards, packages, emails, etc.” Jenna

“Italians are super social and night owls, and I’m the opposite. I like going out every once in a while but it was difficult at first to get used to the rhythms of going out at 11 and coming home at 3.” Marissa

“My social life here in rural Provence is very different from what I was used to in my former city life. There’s a tight knit group of us that live in the middle of nowhere so while we may go out about once a month, we usually have barbecues during the summer and winters are spent huddled around a fondue pot or at a Raclette party (another type of melted cheese).” Sara

“In my experience I’ve found Germans to be more quiet and reserved than Americans when first meeting. At a glance they seem less friendly – but I’ve found them to be as a whole more kind and sincere than Americans on a deeper level. I feel like it is very common in American culture to be loud and enthusiastic and social but not necessarily sincere. For example, in most cases “How are you?” is meant more as a greeting than a legitimate question – oftentimes we Americans ask without really wanting to know the answer. In Germany if you ask someone how they are it is meant as a sincere question to which you will receive a thorough – and often lengthy – answer. This is a quality I really love.” Daryl

 

“Money is always the trickiest part of moving abroad (at least for me anyway).  If you are moving for a long period it’s important to start saving in advance or research job options abroad beforehand.  I’m lucky to have a good 9 to 5 job in South Africa, but it took months and months of waitressing and living on a tight budget before I was fortunate enough to secure it.” Jenna

“The one difference here is that they never use debit cards. Other than that, and the fact that euros remind me of monopoly money, I haven’t had any difficulties in that department.” Marissa

“Ugh, the necessary evil. The thing about Provence is that although you can be on the Côte d’Azur and blow the budget in seconds in a glitzy tornado, you can also find all these wonderful small villages (the non-touristy ones) and have delicious gourmet meals at unknown family restaurants that you want to plaster with Michelin stars, and bottles of amazing wines for a fraction of the price. So basically, it is possible to live and eat very well without breaking the bank.” Sara

“Socialism means heavy taxes for everyone but offers the benefit of free healthcare and university education, as well as easy access to government financial support.  I have to say, when I was sick and required a hospital visit and antibiotics – walking out of there without paying a cent felt pretty dang incredible.” Daryl

 

The scariest part of moving abroad for me was the “before phase” when I wasn’t sure whether my plans were going to go smoothly or whether I was going to be able to find a job.  Funny enough, these things just have a way of working themselves out on their own and everything just sort of fell into place in the end.  Plan before hand as best as possible, but also realize that some uncertainty is inevitable and be willing to take a leap of faith!” Jenna

“I was afraid of everything when I first arrived in Italy, but I soon came to realize it was just a fear of the unknown. It dissipated as soon as I found my footing, so to speak, in the town” Marissa

“I’m terrified that I’ll never fully be fluent enough in French to be understood. And I don’t mean literally understood, but understood enough for my personality to get through. Very few people here actually ‘know’ me.” Sara

“I live in Frankfurt, which has been coined one of Germany’s more “dangerous” cities, but have never had any problem. I am often out at night, both with friends and alone, and have never once had any feeling that I was unsafe. I once had 50 Euros drop from my back pocket and someone actually ran after me to return it!” Daryl

 

“Living abroad has been the most exhilarating, life changing, and self-developing experience of my life and I recommend that everyone spends some period of their life living in a foreign country.  It has been challenging at times, but the rewards have far outweighed the difficulties.  Look into opportunities through school, work, or volunteer programmes – moving abroad is not as difficult as it seems!” Jenna

“I had a really negative experience when I first arrived, and was ready to pack up and leave for good. My mom convinced me to stick it out a little longer just to make sure that it really wasn’t for me. Thank goodness she did, because now I know that I made the right decision in coming here. In short, don’t run away at the first challenges expat life presents to you. Stay strong and know that in the end (no matter the outcome) it will be an experience that will shape you forever!” Marissa

“Learn the language! But also, as important it is to delve into your new life and the culture, I think it’s also important to have a support system and fellow expats can be fantastic for that.” Sara

“If you come to Germany as an ExPat, my first advice would be to enroll in a language program. You will make friends and begin learning how to “talk the talk” which is essential to feeling truly at home. Sure, you could survive only speaking English, but feeling like you belong is a wonderful feeling and I think speaking the local language plays an essential role. My other piece of advice would be this: TRAVEL! You are literally smack dab in the heart of Europe, no matter which direction you head in you will end up somewhere wonderful. Get out there and EXPLORE!” Daryl

 

*************

Thank you so much to Jenna, Marissa, Sara and Daryl for helping me out with your responses.

Everyone, go check out their blogs where you can find out way more about their exciting adventures abroad!

Thanks for reading!

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18 Responses to What Bloggers Say About Living Abroad

  1. Sara Louise says:

    Thanks for having me Laura! bis.x.

  2. Jenna says:

    This turned out great! I loved reading all the other ladies’ responses :)

    Thanks for including me!

    xxx
    Jenna

  3. this is such a great resource for future expats! thanks for having me laura! xo.

  4. Jay says:

    Loved this post. Great to see different people’s opinions on being an expat all in one place.

  5. Laura says:

    @Marissa, Sara and Jenna….This article is ALL you ladies!! Thank you times 2 billion.

  6. Laura says:

    @Jay…Thanks! Nice to meet you too! I just checkout out your blog and you’re living in West Africa?! Amazing! I’ll go back for more of course!

  7. Loulou says:

    I love this post! Neat to read the various opinions and to live vicariously through you ladies who have made such a big move.

    Loulou

  8. I love Daryl’s comment about dropping 50 bucks and someone chasing after her to return it. I’ve had so many friends lose phones and wallets and credit cards only to receive calls of people desperately trying to track them down. People never seize to amaze me here in Germany!

  9. Such interesting responses! I’ve always wondered what it was like living abroad. It’s something I never got a chance to do.

  10. Erin says:

    So much of what was said matches my experiences abroad. Thank you for sharing.

  11. robyn says:

    great post-lots of different views on an expat life

  12. Laura says:

    @Alex…ya I like that too! What she had to say about people seeming colder put deep down being friendlier people really rang true for me.

  13. Heather says:

    What a great post! I love hearing all the different perspectives and experiences! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Dawn (The Alternative Wife) says:

    This was so informative! I’ve always dreamed of living abroad but I know that it has it’s challenges. Fabulous post, Laura!

  15. Adrienne says:

    What a great post! I loved all the different perspectives :)

  16. Elle Sees says:

    this was awesome!! i’ve always wanted to live abroad. and this advice applies to traveling int’l too!

  17. What an awesome post, such interesting information to share!

  18. Laura says:

    @ Dawn…with everything in life there are consequences. Good thing the benefits outweigh them for living abroad ;)

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