10 Things They Don’t Warn You About Living Abroad

I have to admit, living abroad is for many people the dream. It is for me. Even with all the bloggers out there, I never really found a post like this. One that shows you that it’s not all paradise where the grass is greener. The grass is still greener, and that’s something I do appreciate. But I wanted to put this out there for all those considering moving abroad. It’s an adventure – that’s a guarantee. However here’s 10 things they don’t warn you about living abroad.

All smiles from atop the Eiffel Tower! Paris, France.

Time zone differences begin to rule your life. I’m constantly subtracting 8 hours from the clock because the majority of my friends are on mountain time (read: live in Utah). There are other occasions where I’m writing to someone in a third time zone which of course leads to the obligatory addition/subtraction so that I’m not accidentally giving them a notification at 3am… Sorry, mom!

You will miss typical behaviors you never thought were all that typical. For example, hugging! In France and in other parts of Europe, greetings and goodbyes are conducted with kisses on the cheeks. That’s all fine and dandy but sometimes I just want a hug. To the point where I’ve asked another adult for a hug and not a kiss because it means more to me. (I should note that said adult and I are close and it wasn’t awkward to ask, it’s more the fact that I had to ask)


FREE HUGS in Montmarte, Paris, France.

You whip out your best red, white and blue getup for, for, well… nothing. Now I have yet to spend the 4th of July in Paris, but what I’ve experinced with other strictly American holidays is that they aren’t celebrated. And before y’all throw a big “WELL DUH, PAUL” my way, let me say I knew that coming into this. It’s more the sensation of arriving the day of the holiday and not having anyone that really cares about it.*

Thanksgiving in Paris, France. You can always count on Snapchat to provide candid photos?

The endless questions about the past, current, and future presidents. This has happened in so many countries that I’ve visited and both in France and Russia. When President Obama cried during his speech a few weeks ago, I had several non Americans ask me about it. Unfortunately the majority of the questions now revolve around Donald Trump. My favorite being, “Are you still going to live in America if Donald Trump becomes president?” No sir, I’ll gladly join the EU. #WhereDoISign

Prepare for foreign curiosity with America’s gun policies. A tricky subject to handle, as I have to keep in mind that my opinion is not the only one in America. Generally I express MY feelings followed by the differences in political parties and why/how we even have those polices (or lack thereof).

START YOUR VISA PROCESS ASAP. I didn’t find the process of applying for a visa difficult, but it does take awhile and that can affect your travel plans. My move to Russia was delayed by two weeks (which included adjusting my flights) and my French visa came just a couple days before my departure. Save yourself some wrinkles and start the process early on.

Once jet lag wears off, you’ll sleep well. For my friends as well as myself, we crash into bed each night due to sheer exhaustion of navigating every day life. Culture shock is real, even in places where you would least expect it.

Netflix may or may not be available in your host country. I know. The real deal breaker. Don’t worry milennials, Netflix has most of the world conquered. Even though France received Netflix within the last 12 months, some American films/series are still not available. Check out Netflix’s availability here.** If you do happen to be leaving humanity Netflix, at least you can still drown your tears in Nutella, right?

You’re constantly growing because you’re out of your comfort zone. Yes, this makes 11 points. Thankfully, math was never my forté. 😉 I just want to point out that none of these reasons except one (looking at you, Netflix) are a reason to not live abroad. They’re all just minor caveats that come with the territory. I would never give up my experiences because I’ve become a better person and I love that I love being alive. This world was made to be explored and even if there is no Netflix, I intend to see it all.

Channeling my inner “House Hunters International” alter ego at the Museum Rodin. Paris, France.


*There are exceptions! My host family celebrated Halloween and I did a Thanksgiving dinner with some other au pairs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

** This post was not sponsored by Netflix. I included the link above for the convenience of my readers.

Wondering how I afford to travel?

I’ve compiled some of my tips into a fresh batch of ideas to kickstart your travel fund!

Version 2.0: Here

Version 1.0: Here


1 thought on “10 Things They Don’t Warn You About Living Abroad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *