Why I Shouldn’t Have Moved Abroad
Dennis, Videographer, Ukraine: My partner was back home
When I met my partner, we were enjoying life abroad in Asia. Having met in Cambodia, we built a life together in Bali, where I had steady work as a freelance filmmaker. On paper, it all sounded pretty idyllic, but I was restless: I’d lived in the US, all around Asia, and spent a lot of time travelling. But despite being from Ukraine, I didn’t really know Europe. I wanted to see more.
When I started looking for jobs in Europe, my girlfriend was so supportive: she told me, “you have to do it”. We knew we’d both have visa challenges, so when I accepted a job and left for Germany we were very aware that we were saying goodbye for an unknown amount of time.
The first few months flew by in a blur of starting a new job, trying to find an apartment, and tackling German bureaucracy. Work filled the gap and I almost didn’t realize that this was our new life. It was only after my first trip back home that the weight of a long-distance relationship really hit me.
Long-distance is tough, but bonding over visa challenges and looking forward to trips back home meant our relationship still moved forward; we recently got married and, with the visa process underway, we’re looking forward to building a life in Germany together.
It turns out that although taking the chance on a great job has meant a pretty tough period of being apart, in the long term we’re stretching our horizons and seeing more of the world — together.
Erin, Social Media Manager, US: The language and country were a complete unknown
I specifically remember sitting at the dinner table with my family and announcing that I was moving to Germany. My family was surprised, but more supportive than I anticipated, considering how out of the blue the announcement was. I had never planned to live in Germany, in fact, I had only visited the country once. However, I was in a long-distance relationship with a German and had always wanted to live abroad, so when the opportunity to live in Munich came up, I figured — why not!
In retrospect, I sometimes can’t believe I actually made the move — there were so many reasons not to: I had a steady job at a good company and was living a comfortable and easy life in the US. Secondly, I knew absolutely no German, except for bier, kaffee, and toilette. And lastly, I had only one year of work experience — how many companies would be willing to hire a 24-year-old with no language skills and little real-world experience?
However, the three things I did have were very important: a supportive family, a local boyfriend, and the desire to live abroad. If you really want something in life, it makes it easier to ignore the voice in the back of your head telling you you’re crazy. Two months later, I landed in Germany with two huge suitcases, only several months’ worth of savings, and no visa.
I’ve been in Germany for four years now. There will always be moments where I question if staying abroad is the right choice, but I have never regretted making that leap.
Lauren, Community Manager, US: The move was too complicated
I had been living in Boston for almost three years when I made the decision to move abroad. I remember sitting in an interview for a position that I should have wanted — solid salary, great job title, reputable institution — but I was in a stuffy suit that didn’t quite fit right on a hot summer day, and all I wanted was to be anywhere but there. I finished the interview strongly, all smiles and scripted answers, but my heart wasn’t in it.
In fact, my heart wasn’t in any jobs that I applied for in Boston, and it wasn’t until I interviewed for a role in Munich that I knew where I needed to be. Before I accepted the job, I sat down and drew two columns: one for Boston and one for Europe. I wrote down every single thing I needed to do to start a new job in Europe: break my lease, gather visa documents, renew my passport, cancel my US phone, utilities, health insurance plan, sell all my furniture… the list went on. In Boston, all I wrote was “start”.
But I never once doubted my decision. In fact, I spent every single one of those 20 nights before the move counting down — telling myself 18 days, 12 days, just 2 days until I’m there. When I arrived in Munich with two giant bags not knowing a single person, I’ll admit, autopilot took over so fear couldn’t. When I was finally secure in my new house, my new job, and my brand-new life, I asked myself: “Was it worth it?” And it was.
Ro, Content & Communications Manager, UK: The perfect job was back home
I’d been signed up to their job alerts for years when the perfect role came up. I completed the evaluation tasks, took time off to go to interviews, and finally got the job! It was an international organization focused on culture and education — it was exactly what I wanted.
After handing in my notice and signing the new contract, I began to really think about what life would be like: the role meant moving again and living in London for the first time; it also meant continuing a long-distance relationship.
I should have been so excited. But the more I thought about London prices, the organization, and another couple of years of saying “see you in a few months” to my boyfriend, the more I began to see the opportunity in a different light; it felt very familiar — safe almost. Having recently moved back to the UK, I was also missing being an expat and the adventure that comes with it. I began to question whether the opportunity was really so perfect.
One day I thought to myself — half joking — I should just move to Germany and join my boyfriend. The spark of excitement came back: I’d barely even visited Germany, spoke no German, and had no job — the ultimate adventure. I decided to move just for six months until the end of his contract; a year and a half later, we’re still here, and I don’t regret picking the more adventurous path.