Ten Things I Learnt From Living Abroad

Living abroad for the past year has opened up so many new perspectives for me. I can honestly say that this experience has helped me become a better and wiser person. In no means am I saying that you have to live abroad to try and become the best version of yourself (but if you ever get the opportunity GRAB IT BY THE HORNS AND GO). However, I feel that I couldn’t have made a better decision than to pack up my life in a suitcase (or three) and go out into the world and venture for myself. Shoving me out of my comfort zone, I feel that this experience was just what I needed to push me into making better life decisions for myself and figuring out where I want to go next.

Here are ten things I learnt from the past year of living abroad in Glasgow.

It’s ok for plans to change. I have always been the type of person to instantly choose routine over change. Experiencing life abroad helped me adjust my expectations and be ok with a situation not going according to what I had initially planned. For instance, I wanted to find a full-time job in Glasgow but didn’t, even after months and months of reaching out to an unlimited amount of companies. But that’s ok because I learnt that I had to to get my ass off that comfy apartment bed and do my own thing. I also planned to stay longer than a year in Glasgow but life happened and we ended up moving back to this gem of an island.

Getting used to small spaces. When I first moved in to the little apartment that we had rented, I panicked. There was absolutely no space where I could hang all my clothes. Yes, my wardrobe collapsed quite a few times but I learnt how to handle small spaces. I also learnt how to pack light when travelling, something which I wasn’t used to doing. It’s easier for me now to abide by the rule ‘If you didn’t wear it in a year, chuck it’.

 Small victories will make your day. You know, victories like NOT forgetting to buy toilet paper? When you’re living on your own, in a different country, these small victories will make you feel like you’re winning at life. Joking aside, I learnt that you can find something to be grateful for in every single day, even if you’re having the shittiest day ever.

Making a fool of yourself will help you tell great stories. Like the time I tried to enter through an exit door at Lidl and the automatic swinging door ended up in my face. Or the time I went to Tesco to buy the first big shopping and realised that all the things I bought will not fit into the luggage I had brought with me. I ended up on the floor, trying to stuff everything in and desperately sitting on my luggage trying to close the zips. But I didn’t give it a second thought since I was living in a country in which nobody knew me! This also made me realise that making a fool of ourselves where people might know us is fine too. Everybody struggles and has bad days. Trust me, they all become good stories to tell over a glass of wine.

Family is everything. I’ve always known that my family was my backbone. But I didn’t quite realise how much that is until I moved abroad. Although I loved every minute of living in Glasgow and constantly wish that I was still there, I missed my family every step of the way. Technology has made it so much easier to communicate with everyone back home but there’s nothing like smelling your mum’s cooking from across the corridor, having a laugh with your dad and sitting on your brother’s bed while having a good chat. One good thing about missing my family so much is that I believe it has, in the end, made us all closer to each other. For that, I am grateful.

People are inherently good. I cannot stress this enough. I love Malta so much but I always seem to sense a certain kind of negatively towards people we’re not familiarly acquainted with. Most Maltese people I know seem to have grown up assuming the worst in people and we always look like we want to pick a fight with everyone. Living abroad, knowing only a few people, has thankfully exposed me in situations in which I had to deal with strangers on a daily basis. There was never a time in which I thought someone was out to get me. I strongly believe that the world is made up of more good people than bad…if we only give each other a chance.

Luxury vs Necessity. I’ve always lived with my parents until I spent this year living abroad. This means that all the income that I earned from my part-time job went towards my own leisure and needs. This year, I’ve learnt the joys and wonders of having bills and taxes to pay. I could no longer afford to raid my local Urban Outfitters store. At first, not having the luxury of impulse shopping, came as a shock. However, Iiving abroad has given me the opportunity to learn the difference between wanting a material item that I can clearly live without and needing to pay bills and buy food to survive. Now that I’m back in Malta, I’m stuck with the burden (or blessing, whichever way you want to look at it) of still thinking twice before buying a materialistic item. I guess, I can officially call myself an adult now.

Perspective is key. I’ve realised that everyone might have his/her own baggage to carry every single day. It’s easy to focus on our own problems without thinking twice about what others might be going through. I’ve learnt that judging a person by a single action will not depict a true representation. So, don’t judge. FULL STOP.

Love yourself. Before you can attempt to love anyone else, it’s so important to love yourself. If you’re unhappy with something, change it. Be the master of your own journey. Accept and love yourself the way that you are. And, from time to time, don’t be afraid to put yourself first.

It gets easier. If you’ve recently moved abroad or you’re thinking of taking the big leap but you’re scared of the unknown, it WILL get easier. There are times when it will get very tough and you’ll think of giving up but DON’T. You’ll come out so much stronger in the end. And believe me, it does get easier. I promise you’ll master the art of getting your shopping done in one go without having to run back to the store a second time. It takes time but you’ll get there!

Top & Necklace: H&M // Trousers: Urban Outfitters // Trainers: Nike // Watch: Daniel Wellington