You sure know all these Buzzfeed / blog articles about what it feels like to move abroad which contain the words adventure and excitement for at least 20,000 times, right?
After living abroad for over a year now and changing my 'current city' information on Facebook for three times, I can tell you it's far from that. While it sure is adventurous and exciting, it's also shitty, slightly dangerous, mind-wrecking, money-taking and what not. Here's how moving to a foreign country really feels like.
you'll know the transfer fees of each bank by heart
You'll know your IBAN and BIC/SWIFT code at any time of the day. You'll also know what 'OUR', 'SHA' and 'BEN' means. You'll know how to explain to other people that when they transfer you some money from a foreign country, they have to send a bit more that the actual amount. You'll know how it feels to see all the money slipping away. You'll know and fear all the international transfers.
you'll count in different currencies
After a while of transferring the price of each thing to your national currency in your head, you'll get bored of all that and adjust to the economic standards of that certain country. You won't apply these standards to the prices back at home during occasional visits. A sandwich / candy bar / chocolate for 30 CZK? No, thanks. The same things for 10 DKK / 1 EUR? Hell yeah, might as well stock up on that!
you'll have way too many friends
You'll have a best friend in each location you've ever lived. You'll have a lot of international friends and it'll be hard to meet up with all of them. You'll be starting your love affair stories not with 'so I met this guy' but with 'so I met this [insert nationality]'. Your circle will be big. And you will praise Facebook chat and Skype a lot.
grocery shopping will take two / three times longer
Did you know that Penny Market has a Penny to Go product line with the best smoothies ever? Or that you can get plenty of ingredients from various international cuisines in Kaufland? Let alone all the supermarkets you don't even have in your country. WAY. TOO. MANY. UNKNOWN. PRODUCTS. You'll want to try everything; and your wallet will be empty after each grocery store visit. Discovering all that cool stuff will take forever, so make sure you ditch out at least one hour of your time schedule for food shopping.
buying Christmas gifts will suddenly be easy
Refer to the previous point. Just go to the nearest grocery store and buy everything there. It's quite cheap yet everyone will love you for that.
you will be awkward
Everything will suddenly be different and even the simplest thing will turn into a real struggle. You'll make a lot of mistakes. You'll be getting lost constantly, you'll use the wrong entrances and push instead of pull, you won't know how to pay the bills, you'll order different meals than you wanted, you'll try to use the country's language and end up replying 'no thanks' to an open question or you'll just laugh at random people's jokes pretending you actually understood something, you'll get off the bus / train at the wrong stop. All in all, you will feel embarrassed a lot.
you will 'understand'
'No, I don't speak [insert language]. But I understand quite a lot!' It will rub off on you. It'll start with food and other daily stuff and suddenly you'll realize you can actually guess what people passing by are talking about. But still, you won't speak the language. No, shopping conversations comprising of 'hi - no thanks - bye' do not count.
you will see your home country in a different way
You will compare a lot. You will realise that not everything there is that bad / good. You'll start praising it for certain things. (in my case, it's the cheap prices, good healthcare /it really is, seriously!/ and high level of education in Czechia) You will miss traditional meals. (I never knew I liked 'zemlovka', pickled cucumbers and 'bramboraky' that much) You will be proud of something related to your country. (Czech beer!! I had never really liked it before moving abroad but now I know it sure is the best) And you will miss your home country no matter how bad you wanted to move out.
you won't be there for your closest ones
And that will be the toughest one. You won't be able to hug your best friend when she / he is depressed. You won't be able to have Sunday lunches with your parents. You won't be on the family birthday party pictures. You will come back and see how your grandparents aged while you were gone and you will be scared that they might not be there the next time you come again. You will lose some of them and it will be really hard to accept that because you will keep on thinking they are still there, at the place you left them, waiting for you to come back. Because you just won't be there when they all need you.
one of your friends will be your family member
You'll go to the doctor's with them when they're sick. You'll buy them ice cream when they're sad. You'll watch stupid tv series in bed. You'll develop a weird sense of humour that no one else will understand. Just like your sibling, but not really.
you will know that you can't judge anything by the first month
You won't be able to say if you really like that city or not in the first few weeks. You won't know which shop is the cheapest. You won't be able to tell how high your budget should be because the first month is always the priciest. You will be waiting for a certain registration document / health insurance / bank account required in that country and you will feel like you don't even exist there.
you will also know that the first day is always the worst
If you are like me, all your friends and family will know that they have to be on the phone the day you move somewhere new. And they will be prepared to listen to you crying and swearing and generally being extremely depressed. You will have a whole plan of your way back home done in the first days.
you will spend a lot of time in / money on transport
Buses are always the cheapest but also the most annoying. Planes are fast but pricey. (no, earlybird booking is not an option. how the hell are you supposed to know what you're gonna do in 3 months' time?) Trains are generally always overpriced. And if you're not lucky enough to live in the capital cities in both countries, you'll spend even more money on additional transport. Oh, and forget about finishing all your work on the road - the advertised free wifi is never working; and you'll end up sleeping in a weird position and drooling all over yourself anyway.
you will manage
That can be applied to anything, not only to living abroad. You will make friends. You will start liking the place. You will settle down. You will have money again. You will find a job. You will do a lot of cool stuff. You simply will manage. Because if I've really learnt one thing when living abroad, it is that everything will pass. And it eventually really will be as awesome, adventurous and exciting as they write everywhere. Because you WILL manage.