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"

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