Expat Life

Moving Abroad: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Are you thinking about moving or are about to move abroad? If yes, let me give you the lowdown on what it’s like. I am not going to say I’m a pro at this but having moved countries twice already, I think I can share with you some additional details that might help you (hopefully encourage you) to make the right decision. Whatever that decision may be.

The Good

Why are you moving or considering to move abroad? It could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to escape the pressure at home or perhaps you’re trying to fulfill a lifelong dream. Maybe you’re moving for love. Whatever it may be, at the end of the day, this is a fulfillment of something. Who doesn’t like that, right?

If you enjoy traveling, this is also a great opportunity to discover new places on the long-term (and I’m using the word long-term haphazardly here, I’m just trying to say it’s beyond a regular vacation). Finally, you can fill your Instagram with photos of beautiful places but more than that, this is a chance to get to know new cultures. It’s an opportunity to educate yourself about the world, beyond what’s in your backyard.

In case you are moving for a job, this will look hella good on your resume. A lot of companies put a lot of value towards international experience. Whether you intend to stay permanently or temporarily, this can only amp up your CV.

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The Bad

Homesickness is very real. If you’re the type who is family-centric and are moving solo, be prepared to miss your family and friends. This is challenging especially when there’s a timezone difference between you and your loved ones. You will have to learn how to schedule these calls or simply go on days not Skyping or Facetiming. You will miss a lot of family functions and get-togethers. You will not make it to certain parties or important life events. Homesickness gets even worse when you’re sick or when you’re sick and the weather is just plain dreadful. But this can be managed. I’ve dealt with homesickness myself.

Moving abroad is scary. You probably have to start your life over again — new home, new job, few to no friends, it could be that you don’t know the local language. Everything is new and that alone is terrifying. But that’s the price you have to pay to live elsewhere. You need to learn how to deal with the unknown, there’s no way around it. We cope differently but for me I just think about why I left in the first place. That is enough motivation for me to get through this. Most importantly, what I’ve learned is that when you’re preoccupied, you won’t even notice that you’re homesick. Get a hobby or another job, volunteer, learn the local language. If you do something enjoyable with your time, it gets better.

The Ugly

It’s not easy to move abroad. If you are moving for school or work, you either need a lot of money or luck to do so. If you’re moving to study, you need funds or a scholarship to survive. You might have to work part-time if you don’t have a family supporting you financially.

If you’re leaving to work elsewhere, know that the competition is pretty stiff. To give you a perspective of what you’re facing, you should know that people here (in Europe) graduate with a minimum of a master’s degree. Not only do they have a master’s degree, they’ve also done practicum/internships abroad. Possibly not just one but multiple internships. In Europe, people speak two or more languages. If you’re like me who despite graduating from a premiere university in my home country, there’s just no way you or I can compete with this. Just keep submitting your CV on job boards or to companies directly. But be prepared to be rejected many times. It might take you years and years to find the right opportunity. Be patient because you will not miss what’s truly yours.

Now if you’re moving for love, I only have one tip — take good care of yourself first. Do not ever forget that if that person leaves you, you’re on your own. Take care of yourself first, always.

There is hope.

Remember that it is not impossible to move to another country or continent. It is just a more difficult process for others especially if you’re coming from a third-world country. You need to go through more stringent processes than others. However, that makes it even more satisfying when you achieve it. Good luck and all the best on your quest for a new life overseas.

Book Launch: Humans of Amsterdam

You must've heard of Humans of New York and/or Humans of Tel Aviv. Here in Amsterdam, we have Humans of Amsterdam and tonight I attended its official book launch!

THE HUMAN BEHIND HUMANS OF AMSTERDAM

Here's the story of Debra Barraud, the photographer behind Humans of Amsterdam.

THE BOOK LAUNCH

Out of so many people who got photographed, Debra invited three of them so they can tell their stories.

Debra opened the event by telling her story and about how Humans of Amsterdam was born.

Debra opened the event by telling her story and about how Humans of Amsterdam was born.

Trina, an Afghan woman who lost her parents at a very young age. During the times of loss and grief, she turned to books. Her father dreamt of seeing her study in Germany. She is now a student in Hanover.

Trina, an Afghan woman who lost her parents at a very young age. During the times of loss and grief, she turned to books. Her father dreamt of seeing her study in Germany. She is now a student in Hanover.

Amer, a Syrian refugee, finds home in the Netherlands. He aspires to create bionic organs to help his countrymen who lost organs as a result of the war.

Amer, a Syrian refugee, finds home in the Netherlands. He aspires to create bionic organs to help his countrymen who lost organs as a result of the war.

Bart Ongering a.k.a. Meester Bart (Master Bart), a Dutch educator who blogs about his students' often funny, honest, and sometimes painful statements.

Bart Ongering a.k.a. Meester Bart (Master Bart), a Dutch educator who blogs about his students' often funny, honest, and sometimes painful statements.

National Geographic presented Debra a symbolic first copy of her book which the latter offered to her mother, who was sitting in the audience, to express her gratitude.

Debra signed my copy! :)

Debra signed my copy! :)

THE BOOK

In case you'd like to see some snapshots of the book. :)

I left Scheltema feeling so inspired and energized to complete my photography course (s/o to Michigan State University). I've always known that I wanted to do portraiture but didn't know where to begin. But after this event, I realized that a good photo tells a story. So after my basic training, I will learn about visual storytelling next. It's time to stop taking photos and start making them!