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Lessons Learnt From Living Abroad

If you had asked me just 3 years ago if I'd like to move abroad, I would have probably said no. I was comfortable in my bubble in the UK; all my friends were there and everything was predictable and fairly comfortable. So if you had told me I would actually be living abroad pretty soon, I definitely wouldn't have believed you. But here we are almost 2 years later and I've moved to Zambia then China within the span of 4 months. Talk about a plot twist!

I don't remember the move to the UK as particularly significant. I was just going along with what my parents said would happen, and when it happened I just took it all in my stride. Honestly, the people around me were way more excited than I was! But as a 6 year old, it's hard to look at that kind of move with the same perspective as a 20 year old, which is how old I was when we eventually left the UK.

Growing up in, and living among 3 different cultures (so far) has really shaped me into who I am today, which is a topic I want to dedicate an entire post to in the future. It's a cliché sentiment, but all your experiences really do shape you into the person you're going to ultimately become, and today I want to share what lessons from moving abroad (specifically in China) I learnt!

Before we get into it, I have written a few of posts about my time in China, such as some habits I've picked up, experiencing some cultural shock, and my experience being a black woman in China. Do check those out if you're interested!

Becoming self-dependent was the first thing I noticed about myself, and this was molded by the fact that I was now in university too. I didn't have parents or a sister just downstairs to rely on anymore.  My friends were all busy with university or work all the way on the other side of the world. Any decisions I had to make were to be made by and for myself. Having to navigate a new culture, a new language, and new people from different countries all bringing their own cultures and languages was difficult and lonely in the beginning, and it sometimes still is now!

Jumping into adulthood like that was a definite shock to the system, but it's a shock that is now paying off. Being able to take care of my own finances, travel by myself, and live by myself are things I only would have been able to do had I come all the way out here. 

Because I became self-dependent pretty quickly, the next thing I realised was how resilient moving abroad can make you. Being thrown into a new country with a completely new culture has made me way more confident in my ability to navigate through almost any situation! After some time, things or people that used to make me frustrated and easily annoyed turned me into a person who could face these challenges and just keep it pushing. 

A big part of being more resilient is facing and accepting reality. A lot of people will leave university or leave the country they wanted to move to because it didn't live up to expectations, or that the journey wasn't as smooth as they wanted it to be. It's being able to look at your new life and accept that things are different that makes all the difference. 

Finally, another lesson I learnt is that living abroad can make you used to just about anything. What do I mean by this? British people love to complain, and if we're going complain about something, the weather is near the top of the list. I went form complaining about summers of 27° or sometimes even 30° to living in summers of 37° and humidity thrown on top of it. 

Another example is just being outside itself! People staring, pointing, and whispering is part of the norm here and it's something that I've just grown used to. If I'm lost or need help with anything, I can walk up to a stranger and speak a language I've only been learning for just over a year, whereas in the UK if I was lost, I'd be dependent on Google Maps the whole time. 

So those are a few things I've learnt and come to realise since living in China since 2018. Time flies so quick, and in September, it'll be 2 years since I've been here (which is still crazy to me!)

I hope this post was interesting, and if you've ever lived abroad please tell me your experiences below!

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