7 Things Americans Must Know Before Moving To Europe

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Have you ever thought about moving to Europe?

If you are flexible enough to shift your mindset, and really embrace the experience, then moving out of your comfort zone – whether it’s the next country, or the next continent –can, and will change your life. It will make you richer. It will open you up to things, people, influences and ideas that you never would have discovered before.

BUT (there’s always a but…) moving abroad isn’t a magic pill for boredom and inexperience. You don’t move overseas and suddenly become this exotic, worldly creature – you have to be open, and ready, for change. There are a lot of things that you need to make sure you’re ready to do, change, or give up, before you book your ticket.

 

american expat moving to europe

credit: flickr/freds_trips

 

Fifteen years ago, I decided to take a risk, leave the U.S. and move to Europe. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot since then. Think you’re ready to become an expat? Here are seven things you should know before moving to Europe:

1. Make sure you’re truly comfortable being all alone
Before you even consider moving to another country, you must first be absolutely sure that you’re comfortable being completely alone. Before you take the leap, test the waters by taking a solo trip to another country.

2. You must be ready to fully embrace a new culture
Learn a new language, change your home-town habits, try new things and avoid comparing everything (or everyone) with “back home”.

3. You’ll have to stop making old friends the center of your universe
They will always have a special place in your life – but living in front of your computer with your college roommate on the other end is not living.

4. Accept the fact that you will have to start over
Get ready to build a whole new social network and support system with a whole new group of local friends, none of whom will be people you went to high school/college or had your first job with.

5. Get ready to problem-solve like a m-f#4ker
You will have to work your butt off to get permits, apartments, work visas and even a fricking bus ticket, all in another language. Above all, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with local customs… i.e. you’ll have to learn the ‘official’ way, and the ‘real’ way to get what you need, and work out where you draw the line.

6. You’ll have to stop being so sensitive 
Like it or not, people will put you down and make fun of you when you try to speak the local language, or just because you are different. You have to roll with it.

7. Leaving the US means giving up some comforts
Be ready to miss some comforts such as limitless ice, a car, or central air conditioning. You don’t know what you’ll miss until it’s not there, but there’ll be something. Personally, I miss Slurpees…

 

moving to paris

credit: flickr/bass_nroll

 

If you’re still reading, and didn’t run screaming halfway through the list, congratulations! We just got to the best part: all the little things that will make your fearless jump worthwhile.  These experiences far out-weigh the negatives, or I wouldn’t still be living abroad 15 years later!

  • Going for a Sunday stroll through the streets of Paris and knowing everything and everyone, from the guy selling newspapers…to the best place to buy baked goods.
  • Rambling conversations with like-minded expats and locals who become your real friends.
  • Feeling like “You’ve made it” when you have your first dream in a foreign language, or your first real conversation.
  • That feeling of complete confidence in yourself to adapt to anything, and anywhere.
  • Discovering just how tasty real Irish yogurt bought fresh from a farm really is.
  • Picking out fish for the grill while chatting with the local Portuguese fisherman.
  • Realizing that the world IS your playground and that anything is possible. Borders? What borders?
  • New landscapes. New sports. New animals. New smells. New foods – that become your “normal”.
  • Types of music that you NEVER in a million years would have dreamed about listening to before…but now you LOVE.
  • Feeling like a bright-eyed kid again, where everything is new.
  • Street markets and festivals.
  • Riding a train, taking the bus, walking to the grocery store.
  • Dating someone from another culture and spending time with their friends and family and actually feeling like part of their family.
  • Adopting new holiday customs.
  • Starting from scratch. Reinventing yourself.

 

Ready to take the plunge? If you are thinking of moving abroad and would like to talk to someone about it before hand, I welcome you to reach out to me via Twitter: @textweapon. I would love to chat!

 

Paris photos courtesy of bass_nroll and freds_trips.

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Claudia is the creator of Text Weapon, and the author of French Seduction Made Easy. She is passionate about modern communication and loves helping people improve their relationships through creative texting. To read more by Claudia, visit Text Weapon . Don't forget to signup for the FREE Texting Club trial with over 300 messages. You can also hit her up on Twitter .

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