What We Learned in Our First Year Living Abroad.


  When we decided to move to the UK we weren't sure exactly how it was going to go. We didn't have jobs lined up beforehand and it was going to be the longest we'd ever been away from our friends and family.  Turns out we did okay, we found jobs and didn't go broke either. We made it through our first year in England so we thought we would reflect on what we've learned about the experience.

  First off, moving to another country involves getting used to a different culture, attitudes and practices. Yes we moved to the UK, an English speaking country, so it doesn't feel completely foreign but cultural differences still make it feel like you're definitely not at home. When we speak, our accent gives us away as foreigners and people treat us differently. We are almost treated as exotic which was a bit unexpected and has worked in our favour in getting jobs and meeting people. Who would have thought we'd get compliments on our Canadian accents? Not us.


  It has been fun learning about the ins and outs of life in the UK; what it's like to live here, and work here, along with what the people are like, their sense of humour, their quirks, their views of the world and what they do for fun. We had to learn new terminology to understand people and be understood. We had to get our friends to explain what exactly a "Chav" is, among other things. It took some time adjusting to not only life in another country but also life in a big city. Birmingham is a bit bigger than Vancouver with a larger metropolitan area and London is massive. London is the largest city we've ever been to by far. More people, more traffic, more competition but also more job opportunities.

  Our visa allows us to live and work in the UK for 2 years. We knew that we'd meet people here and make friends but we've learned that it is going to be difficult leave our friends behind. Leaving England is going to be more difficult than leaving Canada because when we left Canada we knew that we were returning within 2 years and would see all of our friends and family again. Leaving England will be different because we won't be able to move back and we don't know when we will be able to return to see our friends again.

  Living in another country temporarily does feel like your life is on hold as you take any job just to ensure rent is paid and you stop worrying that you're going nowhere in your career. You see working as something you do to carry forward your existing dreams instead of seeing it as a dead end job. You can see the end date. You know when your job is over so it allows you to focus on your life outside of work. In our case, our goals are exploring the UK and Europe  as well as socialising with our friends. That being said we are still taking jobs that will help build our CVs for when we return to Canada.

  Being a minimalist is extremely easy in another country we've found.  Minimalism was harder when we were surrounded by our existing possessions and were drawn into accumulating things to make our apartment look nicer. When you know you have to leave in 2 years time and need to fit everything that you own into a suitcase it helps eliminate reckless spending. You're always thinking about why you need it, the purpose it will have, and if it will fit into your suitcase. We don't want to pay to ship our stuff back to Canada and why waste the money on stuff if we have to ditch it in the end. There has been some stuff that we felt was worth purchasing such as the mattress topper for our uncomfortable mattress that came with our fully furnished flat. Overall we've done pretty good in saving our money and spending it wisely (aka on Holidays).

What we learned in our first year is that we made a good decision in moving to the UK. It wasn't as difficult as we thought it was going to be in some ways but more difficult in others. Also, it has brought us more clarity on what is important to us and has allowed us to enjoy our lives while moving in the right direction. We suggest that people get out of their comfort zones and explore the world around you.

Canary Wharf, London
If you liked this post, check out "Thoughts of a Wanderlust Vegan"

Comments

  1. My 2nd oldest def. falls into that category. His girl likes things to make the place look nice though, so he's not really a minimalist anymore by default. ;)

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    1. We like the look of nothing. :P Everyone is different.

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  2. It would be hard to be somewhere for two years and then to have to leave. I would hate having to leave all of those people never knowing whether I would be able to see them again. That would be very hard.

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    1. Yeah it wasnt easy at all. We hope to get back and visit again soon.

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  3. I would agree that leaving like a "minimalist" can help you so understand what important and whats not. What a great adventure you both must have had and some outstanding memories to last a life time.

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    1. We have learned what we love in life. We still dont know where we want to be in life though!

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  4. I am a minimalist too but my husband not so much. I am not sure how we'd cope in a new country, thankfully we wont have to find out.

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    1. We loved living abroad and hope to do it again one day!

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  5. What part of England are you in? I did 2 years in East Sussex and also had to learn what a chav is. I also had to learn English terms for things and they had to get used to my Aussie names for things. Fun and games!

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    1. We were based in Birmingham, but we did spend a few weeks in Bournemouth.

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  6. This is a unique life experience that not everyon gets to go through. I loved reading about it and trying to imagine how I would feel if I were in your shoes. Great post!

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    1. It was great! We hope to do it again soon!

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  7. I love that you shared these lessons with us. I can never imagine myself moving to a new country but I do love to travel and explore. It was a very beautiful learning experience for you, I'm very sure!

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    1. It was a great experience. Living somewhere différent is a whole other adventure to just travelling.

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  8. Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your life living in a different country. I love your idea on being a minimalist. This is worth reading!

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    1. Thanks! It was a wonderful experience.

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it. England is s beautiful country.

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    1. Thank you for reading. We loved England.

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  10. That sounds like an amazing adventure. I would love to be able to do something like that. Travel a lot more just get jobs as you need them and just really get to explore and experience.

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    1. We had a wonderful time. Hope to get back to England soon.

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  11. England seems like a great place to call home for awhile. I commend you on your courage to live abroad, most people want to, but don't have the courage to.

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    1. I think it was easier because it was the two of us. And we had friends to move in with! Hope to do it again.

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  12. I'm so glad it worked for you and that you learned a lot. I love reading about your adventures there and looking at all the food photos..heehee.

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    1. We had a wonderful time. Hope to move abroad again.

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  13. good story for us to read through and learn a thing or two, always good experience to learn new things in new country or place, and sure this was one big massive one. good read up./

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    1. We had a wonderful time. Thank you for reading.

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  14. I would love to be able to live somewhere else, even if just for a little bit. Sounds like an amazing experience.

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    1. We think that everyone should give it a try.

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  15. I could never live abroad honestly. I just have to be close to my family specifically my parents and grandma. I am really close to my family.

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    1. We loved it. It was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend it.

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