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Lorena: Searching for the Perfect Place to Call Home

By the age of 15 I knew I was going to lead my life as an expat. My home country wasn't exactly the land of opportunity I needed it to be, and I couldn't see it fueling my grand ambitions. I wasn’t sure where and how the story would unfold, but I knew one thing — I was determined to make my own path.

So, I moved for the first time: I got a scholarship at a foreign university to study a subject I was passionate about. I was excited and petrified at the same time, but I had that energy deep within me and I was determined to make it. During the first lecture in a packed auditorium, the professor told us to look at the person sitting on our left and the person sitting on our right: “only one of you is going to make it,” he said. The odds were poor for everybody — even worse for foreigners. But I made it.

I made friends, I lost friends. I learned a new language and how to survive in a new country. I read thousands of pages. I met people from around the world. It was tough but worth it. When the time came to get a job and grow up, I declined a job offer most of my peers would have considered a dream job. Life circumstances wanted me to move on.

So, I moved for the second time. Brand new country, brand new culture, and a language I couldn’t speak or understand. How hard can it be, I thought — I’ll just learn the language, find a job and build a life. I was determined to make it. After all, I’d already done it once.

I took language classes and looked for a job. I was living in one of the most prosperous regions in Europe which offered a lot, just not to me. After applying for a huge number of positions, I decided to give up. I never made it to the interview. Nobody seemed to care about my stellar academic record and ability to adapt. I was devastated, I cried a lot.

So, I moved for the third time. Brand new country, brand new culture, but this time I spoke the language — thank goodness. The new country was good to me. I found a great job within a month and quickly progressed in my career. I made money and was able to create the lifestyle I wanted. There were some challenges along the way, but it all seemed easy compared to country #3.

No matter where you move or what you end up doing, one thing is certain: as an expat you will face adversity. A lot of it. Make sure you do your part: read, learn, understand, and adapt. Make friends and enjoy yourself. Put in the work and reap the rewards. And if it doesn’t work out, move again.

 

Lorena has known since a young age that she wanted to be an expat, as there was so much going on in the world that she didn’t want to miss out on. For those dealing with setbacks and loneliness while abroad, her recommendation is to set yourself challenges such as a career change, or running a 5k, so you can improve and grow. She can’t imagine never having lived abroad, and encourages everyone to get out there and explore!


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