What It’s Really Like to Live Abroad

For those in my life that I have known for years, I am the friend that lives abroad and is constantly traveling the world. In fact, I often get emails asking me where I am, which is often a very legitimate question, hence the name of my blog and nickname, Carmen Sandiego.

I sometimes receive Facebook messages and emails from friends and acquaintances that are interested in moving abroad. They want to know how I did it and how they too can do it. While I think we all need to follow our own paths and create our own opportunities, I decided to write a few points that I usually try to share with those who contact me.

Just as a bit of background, I left the US in February 2008 to start a new adventure. Several months before my departure I was quite unhappy and really wanted to find a totally new experience. I had a great job as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company, was making a lot of money and living a very fabulous life at the ripe old age of 23. My job afforded me the opportunity to buy a riverfront condo as a gift to myself for my 22nd birthday and holidays in NYC, Miami and even London, Paris and Madrid and, most importantly, a custom made walk-in closet with all the shoes a girl could want!

After one REALLY bad day at work, I headed home and googled “jobs in japan.” Almost immediately, I saw options for teaching English and I applied. The rest is history.

I had an amazing year in Japan and while there, I promised myself that I wouldn’t live in the States for at least three years. It has now been nearly six years and I have lived in Japan, London, Benin and Rome and have traveled to about 35 or so countries in between.

Enough about me, here it goes!

1. Why do you want to move abroad? 

A man that I was seeing at some point once asked me: “what are you chasing or what is it you’re running from?” Because I never took the time to be introspective about my lifestyle, I was shaken to the core by his question.

I think that it is very important to think about why you want to live abroad, as this will help guide your decisions. Are you just looking for an adventure? Do you want to learn another language? Do you want to save money on graduate school? Are you interested in working abroad because it will look good on your CV? Do you really dislike your home country and just want to escape? Are you looking for love? There are tons of reasons that people want to move abroad and every single one is just as valid as the next.

Once you know the answer to why you want to move abroad, it will make the answer to the next questions that much easier.

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