College Traveler: What No One Tells You About Living Abroad

Many of you have considered moving to another country at one point or another. Something pushed you in that direction: maybe a significant other, the promise of a new culture, or maybe simply the excitement of packing your bags and leaving was enough to get you to uproot your life. While everyone posts the fun, carefree photos on Facebook, they fail to tell you how scary it is, the moments of doubt, the periods where you second guess yourself and the unnerving fear of never fitting in. Moving abroad is a fun and exciting experience, but truly life changing.

The first time I considered moving abroad, I was about to apply for university and thought moving to London would be my best bet at gaining independence. I soon forgot about it and just applied to one of the local in-province schools. Eventually, I really couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be “somewhere” else. I questioned my mother countless times. I wanted to know if she thought I was smart enough to make it work, strong enough to make it if it all didn’t go as planned, and most of all, I wanted to know I had her support. Luckily, my mother gave her full support and was excited for all my ideas and ambitions!

Eventually, in my second year, I started researching visas and gathering all the necessary information. I wanted to know the safest way to move abroad, how to move abroad and what paperwork needed to be done. Not only was this stressful, but many times I just wanted to give up because there was so much to be done in such a short period of time. But I pulled through and, slowly but surely, gathered my documents and created an au pair profile.

No one really explains that moving abroad isn’t easy: there aren’t any shortcuts, and it takes a lot of time and effort. You can’t just make this decision lightly. At 22, and after a family loss, I decided that it was time to leave and get on with my plan. I figured the best way to explore the world, try new things and get on with my life was to start living the life I wanted.

It took six months to get from start to finish: I spent weeks finding the perfect au pair family. Some of them could have been a good fit, and some of them I couldn’t imagine living with. I spent a month putting together my visa application, and then I spent an even longer time gathering important papers, making my arrangements and trying to control my anxiety.

The truth is that moving abroad is scary. You have so much too lose and even more to gain, and the thought of either option happening is terrifying. You will get to post the carefree photos on Facebook, you’ll meet friends and you’ll even get to experience new things ... but the honest to goodness truth is that moving abroad takes a lot of time, effort and thick skin.

Danielle Mair is a Canadian student studying abroad in London during the 2012-2013 school year.

By: Danielle Mair | Images: 12

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  1. What a great article! I've been interested in becoming an au pair for quite sometime. Any other tips? What agency did you use, etc.

    1. Hi Megan!
      That’s great to hear! It’s a wonderful experience and would recommend it. I didn’t use an Agency. I actually went through a popular website that connects au pairs and families called it’s a very trust worthy site and most of my friends that are au pairs used it to connect with families. I’d say if you want to become an au pair then you should check it out!


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