It seems a given that moving, anywhere, even to a new house in the same city, will change your life in some ways. I knew my life would change when I moved to an entirely new country–how could it not? While I expected things like “seeing a castle during my commute” to change, many other things have changed too. I know moving was the best decision I ever made and I rarely look back. (Not that I don’t get homesick, because I do!).
1. I Move More
Even though I was living in one of the fittest cities in America before moving overseas, I was not very active there. Part of it was the nature of my work–graduate school involves hours upon hours of sitting in a classroom, and interning as a therapist does not involve much movement (neither does the paperwork). I also started this blog while in Denver, so most of my free time was sitting. We’d get into the mountains while we could, and walk around our neighborhood almost every night, but it still wasn’t enough. Now, as a teacher, I am standing all day. I walk quite a bit every day, even while taking a ton of public transportation, and without a car, every errand requires some walking. Plus, my desire to constantly be traveling and exploring a new city means I am on my feet so much more. I feel so much better about myself and my body as a result.
2. I’ve Simplified
When we moved, we brought a carry-on, a backpack, and a suitcase–each. Now that we are here, we’ve been trying to get rid of the things we brought that we don’t need or use, so we are continuing to simplify. I miss a lot of things–mostly my kitchen supplies and that crazy comfy bed–but all that stuff they say about de-cluttering your life really is true.
3. I Spend Less
Along with the simplifying, I have cut most of my spending on luxuries. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have enough for everything I need, as well as travel (which to me is a little bit of a necessity). One nice thing about Prague, though, is that it really is inexpensive compared to much of Europe. If I’m feeling like I need to get out and have some fun, a few beers at a pub won’t set me back very far at all. Some beer is as cheap as 20kc, which is currently less than $1!
4. I Want Less
Along with spending less, I find myself wanting less. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at saving money, and having a Target right next door to us back in Denver did not help this. Target is a blackhole, both for your time and your money. You go in there, not knowing when you’ll get out or how much you spend (because you always spend more than you plan!). While there are certainly temptations here, being on a complete shopping moratorium has curbed my appetite quite a bit. I still love clothes, and being in stylish Prague doesn’t always help this, but I feel that the basics in my closet (and my many scarves!) are helping with this. Plus, having a specific reason for not shopping–as in, my next trip is always only a few weeks away–makes it so much easier.
5. I’ve Gained Perspective
While I think I will always struggle to some degree with anxiety and depression, many of the things which were big causes of these feelings seem much lighter now that I’m far away from them. Family and societal pressure to get married, be successful, have an important career, have lots of babies, “have it all,” and always put others first has lessened. I’m learning what I really want in life, and so much of the guilt has lessened, too. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect: the perfect student, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect therapist–when in fact, I just ended up being mediocre at everything. While that pressure (which is often internal) is still there, the struggles of my daily life as an expat help me realize what really matters.
6. I’ve Pushed Myself
Obviously, jumping out of your comfort zone is a big push. I knew it would be challenging to move, but after the stress of leaving Denver and selling everything we owned, I figured living in Prague would full of awe and fun. While it’s definitely awesome, there are many little challenges that force me out of my comfort zone: teaching, learning to speak a new language, making friends from different cultures and backgrounds, buying vegetables at the grocery store, finding the grocery store, navigating public transportation…you never know what will push you outside of your comfort zone in a new country!
7. I’ve Learned ALL About Priorities
This is a big one. I think it’s been repeatedly demonstrated to me that we will always be able to make time for the things that are important to us. For instance, I’m always surprised when someone says they don’t have time to read, because I read every single day. I’m learning how much I want to keep in touch with many of my friends back home–but also that the people who don’t bother to keep in touch with me, too, might not be worth it. While there are some things we don’t do because of fear, there are some things we always manage to have time for. Moving abroad has helped me refine what I really care about–and focus on these areas, rather than trying to do too much.
8. My Relationship Has Grown
E and I have grown even closer while living here abroad. Part of it is that we don’t really have anyone else in the country, so we have to rely on each other for everything. In addition, we still don’t know very many people in the city (much less the country or the continent), which means we spend most of our free time together. Even though we’ve lived together for over 3 years, moving abroad challenged us and helped us address communication issues…and moving abroad with your partner is really fun! We’ve had so much fun, in fact, that we’ve decided to get hitched!
9. I’ve Seen More of the World…and Can’t Get Enough!
Although I’ve traveled quite a bit and have never gotten sick of it, I think everyone in our life (perhaps myself included) expected we’d want to spend a year abroad and then return home and get back to “real life.” While the future is uncertain, I am not ready to stop traveling at all!
How has a big change, such as moving, changed your life?
Linking up with the Travel Tuesday.