What I have learned living abroad for a year and then being back for a year

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

MountainsTwo years ago, I moved from Chicago to Auckland. It was the first time I knew I would be outside of my home, away from everything and everyone I know for longer than a couple of weeks.

I traveled a lot before, with family, friends, for school and all by myself. This was different. I was going to live, work and make a whole new life for myself in a place I never have been, with a new culture, and though New Zealand’s official language is English, a second national language is spoken and written everywhere.

I learned that it takes several months to make some friends, people who you can count on and be your “in case of emergency.” I was lucky, my host family was welcoming and we got along great. I know that if you don’t feel like your new home is a home, it won’t be easy for the other aspects, professional and private life. But after about 4-6 months, I had two really great friends and they introduced me to others. It felt like I had known them all my life, they even got to meet my parents when they visited. But it took a while to get into the groove.

I learned that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this if I didn’t live in a time where I could text, call and video chat on a regular basis to my loved ones.

When I moved back to the United States, I learned that this was not going to be the last time I would move abroad. Not just to travel but to work and live a life outside of what I knew. I learned that not everyone, rarely anyone feels the same way and  might think you are the odd one.

My high school reunion is coming up and out of the hundreds that graduated my year, more than half live in the same city and almost all are in the United States.

I haven’t learned if my time living abroad and the want to continue to do so is weird but I have learned to embrace it.

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