Moving to a new country is a lengthy process. It begins with the all important initial decision to pack up everything that you own and start somewhere new. Once that decision has been made, the process of getting all of your ducks in order to actually move abroad takes quite some time. For me, it ranged anywhere from six months to a whole year. During that time, the process of moving took over my whole life. Whenever I wanted to buy something, I had to stop and think about how much time it was going to take me to finish that bag of rice or whether I will be able to bring that cute dress with me to my new home. It also took over my conversations with constant updates on the progress of my preparations. All of this lead to a growing anticipation of this new chapter of your life.
When I actually get to grab mygiant backpack and get on the plane, I felt like the fun times were about to begin… but they’re weren’t. As with any new thing, there are bound to be teething problems…
It takes some time to develop really good friendships, not just the kind to grab a coffee or a beer once in a while. This is something that you especially take for granted until you move away from your home town for the first time and worse when you move to a foreign country. You quickly realise that the friends you have at home took years to develop and that it is impossible to establish similar relationships in a matter of weeks or even months.
Hurdles such as this are made more difficult when moving to a country where you don’t speak the local language. When trying to get comfortable in your new environment is combined with unrealistic expectations, there is inevitably disappointment… Because of the sacrifices I made to come here, I had set the bar so high that my first two weeks were predictably disappointing. I had turned down a good job in London and left my husband behind to move to Taiwan. I therefore felt like this new chapter needed to be amazing to compensate for the trouble of moving to yet another country. How could anything live up to such an expectation? It simply cannot. Of course when I arrived in Taipei, I did not know the city, I was jet-lagged and continuously lost. Not knowing any Chinese, I felt like a ghost roaming the city streets, unable to interact with the people around me. I would just walk around watching people. This was combined with the inevitable loneliness that accompanies moving abroad. My time was shared between solo wandering and Netflix. This lead to questions about whether I was making the most of my time and fulfilling the goals behind my decision to move to Taiwan.
We place so much weight on moving abroad and create so many expectations leading to an inevitable feeling of disappointment. So how do we counter this? Telling ourselves that we should lower our expectations is easy, but it is a hard thing to actially pull off. The other answer is to try to be patient, but that is also easier said than done. Maybe these difficulties are just a necessary pain in order to pave the way for something good. Maybe great adventures require a little bit of hardship in order for them to be great. Good stories starts with a new adventure, then the plot twists as the heroin runs into difficult waters. In the end, she always overcomes the hardship and becomes the true heroin she was meant to be and likely a better, fuller person in the process. What kind of a story would it be if she never had run into difficulty? Not a very good one. Maybe my adventure needs these challenges for it to be trully great.