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  • Shannon Kenney

Living abroad: expectation vs reality 

woman packing

Living in a foreign country is difficult and extraordinary and everything in between. There are some big expectations, assumptions, delusions, and what I was thinking that go along with it. 


Expectation Of Life In Another Country: Every Day Will Be An Adventure Full Of Exploration 

Reality: That’s Only True For The First Few Months 

In the beginning, everything is exciting and new. You are stepping into the unknown, and every morning brings different challenges. You are surrounded by other languages and exotic cultures, and it’s all so thrilling, no time to be bored. But after a while, that wears off. 

You will get more settled into your daily routine. You still have the laundry, the grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning your house and all the stuff that makes everyday life.  

Don’t get me wrong. We have exciting days, and when we get to travel, that will be freeing, but for life on the regular… it’s basic. 


Expectation Of Living In A Foreign Country: Everyone Will Visit 

Reality: Not as many friends and family came  

In my mind, I really thought everyone would visit. I mean, we live in Europe! The only expensive part of the whole trip is the plane ticket, but once you are here, everything is cheap. There are a lot of other reasons why people may not visit. And I get it. 


Expectation Of Living In A Different Country: We Will Travel ALL The Time 

Reality: Work Gets In The Way 

Unfortunately, we aren’t independently wealthy, nor were we born into royalty – we need to earn our keep. The reality of not having unlimited vacation days and school schedules or an unlimited budget means you need to plan your travel experiences.  

Expectation Of Living In A Foreign Country: I Can Handle The FOMO 

Reality: The Show Must Go On, With Or Without Me 

Life at home remains the same. All your friends and family will still go through all the exciting events of life… births, weddings, parties, new homes, grad schools, all the fun stuff. And all the horrible things like deaths and divorce. The reality is that you will miss most of it. 

Expectation Of Moving To A New Country: Friends Are Friends Forever, Right? 

Reality: Yes And No 

There is def a probability that you will lose some friends. Not because you don’t like each other, but because long-distance relationships are complicated and take a lot more effort. 

Not everyone will understand.  They might even feel like you are leaving them behind. And eventually, they will become distant. 

Keeping up with friends is one of the challenges of living abroad. Moving to a foreign country brings out the best and worst in people. And after a while, you’ll truly see who your real friends back home are. 

There are always difficulties of living in a foreign country. It’s not home. Things aren’t as easy – period, end of story. 

However, it really does change you. It opens your eyes and broadens your horizons more than you could ever imagine. Every country will have their challenges. Hello, culture shock. No place is perfect.  


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