After my post Moving to the UK: The Hassle, here is its antithesis about the rewarding aspects of moving abroad! It’s nothing specific to the UK I am sure, but they are the moments I would go through the hassle all over again to experience. I also know that this might be very specific to moving abroad to study, but again this is my personal experience.
Here are 12 things that made all the hassle worth it:
1) The moment when you drive into your new town and realise that all your efforts and the hassle you went through in the past few months is finally reaching its culmination. You take a deep breath, admire the surroundings and can’t believe the place and moment you’ve been dreaming of is finally here.
2) Meeting your flatmate and realising that sharing your new home with someone else won’t be as daunting as you thought.
3) Meeting your first few friends: the timid first encounters, the embarrassed first few invitations (basically asking your friends out), the first hugs and the first few secrets shared.
4) Sharing experiences with fellow expats and realising that even though you come from different sides of the world, we’re all a bit the same.
5) Hearing about a new (or multiple) culture(s). There are 7 billion of us on this planet and rare are the people who are going to share the exact same experience as you. Any encounter can bring to new discoveries. I learned even from fellow Canadians!
6) Experiencing different cultures. Not just learning about them, but being immersed in them. Smelling, feeling, touching whole new things. Food, holidays, garments, traditions, expressions, etc.
7) After a few weeks (or a few months) finally getting that feeling of home, of belonging.
8) Meeting your person.
9) Meeting people who become your family away from home. People who hug you when you cry, who laugh with you, who go buy medication for you when you’re ill, give you nicknames and don’t mind coming to bring you some food if you can’t leave your house.
10) Meeting a person that makes you rethink what you thought you knew about love.
11) The moment. There is always a moment, or multiple moments. A moment when you stop and you realise how lucky you are to be where you are. Mine was a lonely walk at night in the fog near a 900 year old cathedral. I also had a moment in the middle of a party. I stayed quiet in a corner watching my friends and realised how very lucky I was to be in the midst of all these people.
12) The moment when you’re about to leave and you realise that ‘abroad’ is now home and that leaving hurts you as much (or more) than it did to leave your first home.
While St Andrews felt less british than it did international (which brought me to make friends from lots of different countries as well as get to know British culture), it was still an amazing experience of taking a leap of faith and moving across the ocean to experience something new and different. My relationships are the best things I take away from my experience in St Andrews (oh that and a degree…). They are the reason I felt so strongly about St Andrews, the reason I assimilated so quickly and felt like home, the reason my heart is still in the UK and the reason why it will always hold a special place in my memories. All of it was worth the hair-falling/head-splitting/anxiety-stricken stress period I went through before moving abroad. <3