The Truth About Living Abroad

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


“I’m wondering how you will be like when you come back. 15 months abroad will change you…”, someone told me a couple of days before I hopped on the plane to move to the other side of the world. We were sitting there on a sticky and hot friday evening  surrounded by buzzing mosquitos while drinking a cold beer on the patio of my parent’s house. I remember nodding, holding stronger onto my glass as I started thinking of leaving my loved ones behind. And now seven months later I come to realize: God, was he right.

It’s always hard to explain what goes on in someone’s soul when they experience life abroad – especially when you decide to live somewhere so completely different than your homecountry. In my case – the change I went through the past months was a slow and graduate process that creeped up behind me and like a flood decided to break down on me, leaving me drenched in questions and disorientation. Yes, I did notice the obvious changes. My eyebrows got straighter by the month. I started wearing cute socks (yes fellas – the sock game in Korea is strong). I noticed that I started paying attention to age now. Taking my shoes off in front of the small step at the entrance became second nature. I always laughed about those moments with my Korean friends. But it only took one small incident, one short sentence by a fellow countryman that struck me like thunder. Yes…I won’t come back as the same person. And I am not talking about having different shaped eyebrows. No- the change I am talking about is a fundamental one. It whirls your soul up without you noticing and shakes the constructions you build your entire life on. It’s a feeling deep inside of your bones, still noticable enough to point it out but too deep to explain it. 

Living abroad will make you feel feelings ýou have never felt before. The weird feeling in your stomach as you wave at your loved ones one last time before entering the gate at the airport. The excitement of looking out of the window as you land and realizing that this is what you will call home now. The courage of letting someone into your life, knowing that a couple of months from now you will be seperated by hundreds of kilometers. The pain you feel hugging your friend one last time not knowing when you will see them again. The frustration feeling misunderstood by your friends and family at home becasue they don’t know what you go through. The sadness that pulls the rug out from under you because all you want is to cuddle with your Mom while your Dad is trying to fix the TV for one last movienight as a family.

Yes my dear – you will plant your face on the ground. But you will also learn to get back up again. You will feel moments of incredible joy and unforgettable pain. Moments that will make you feel like a kid again and moments that will make you feel like a badass bitch.

Embrace them.

xoxo Laura Belle


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