Do's and Don'ts: Planning Move Abroad


Planning Your Move Abroad for a Year

Whether you're studying abroad for a year or putting your job on hold for a year, living abroad is one of the most rewarding experiences. But it takes a lot of prep work. I decided two years ago that I was going to live abroad and after a year of planning and saving money, I was able to make it happen. And while it seems like it's impossible to do, especially if you have real obligations, once you set your mind to it, it's possible. 


Don't base it off the movies. Honestly, I got my bright idea to move abroad from watching too many movies, specifically Roman Holiday, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Eat, Pray, Love. Then I went to Italy and realized that it was nothing like the movies and changed my mind. Luckily I only changed my mind on the country, not the plan itself. But remember that movies are fiction, that means your life is not going to be exactly like Audrey Hepburn's. Have realistic expectations instead.

Town Hall, Munich


Research the culture and the city. It's good to get an idea of what you're getting yourself into. I went as far as visiting the cities before I went, but I know that's not feasible for everyone. So instead start to research about the culture, but also how to find apartments and jobs, what documents are needed, health care, living conditions, and any questions you may have. Try and get in contact with other expats and have them tell you the pros and the cons to get a good picture. It's great to live your dream but keep it realistic so that living out your dream can be as you imagined it.


Don't wait until last minute to do everything. Some countries require visas to work and to live. If you're an American citizen, expect to be filling out work visas before leaving and getting together a lot of paperwork. If you find a job before moving, ask what paperwork is needed before coming. If not then research what each country requires. But since visas can take months, procrastination is not a solution.


Make plans to visit friends and family. Remember that homesickness happens. It's normal. So think ahead and let people know where you're going and invite them to stay or travel with you. I got lucky and all of mine spaced out perfectly so I never went more than a few months without seeing my family.
Parc de Cygnes, Paris


Don't forget to photocopy and scan all your important documents. Unfortunately theft happens. And when you're traveling with so many documents, it's good to have extras on your computer and at home. You're most likely going to be needing to bring the originals, so plan ahead. I know this is weird advice, but it's not something that gets brought up in forums.


Start looking into what kind of jobs you can get or what kind of exchange program your school offers. Whether you're studying or working abroad, start the job and school search early. It will give you an idea of how things work when you get there, and if you get accepted before arriving, the school or job will usually help you with any information you may need or with visas. 

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