Why You Should LIVE ABROAD At Least Once In Your Life

Every second person these days are posting their travel pictures or posting about their plans for up coming travel. Travelling is AMAZING and I love it, but when you’re living out of a suitcase, it’s difficult to genuinely embrace a new culture and way of life. In 2013 I lived in London for the year, this July I lived in La Rochelle, France and now I’ve just moved to Montréal for an exchange at university. Whilst I’m still adjusting to my new life here, it’s really made me appreciate my previous opportunities of living abroad. So this post is dedicated to those of you who have ever thought about living abroad and I’m here to tell you why you should do it and do it now.

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It’s one thing to move, it’s another to move to another country

Sure – you may just think that if you want change, you can just move houses in your town or city, or maybe even move interstate. Sure, that’s a big thing. But at the end of the day, you have a common language, culture, and have your support network not far away.

Moving to another country, even if they speak English, is overwhelming in every sense because literally everything is new and foreign. From big things like adjusting to a new culture, way of life or new language, to the little things that we take for granted like knowing where to do grocery shopping, what phone provider to go with, how to take out the garbage or finding the best cafe on your street.

Now is this exciting or scary? I’ll leave that up to you to find out.

Nothing is familiar and you’ll look like a lost puppy

Like I said… everything is new! Back in your home city/town, you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going… all the time. You walk through the streets without even thinking twice about crossing the road. But in a new place, you’re constantly looking at street signs, hesitating about crossing the road, walking for 10minutes up the street only to realise you’re going the wrong way and having to turn around and go back.

For me this is a really big adjustment. Is admitting that I have no idea what’s going on – but that’s ok because you’re not expected to magically know everything about a new city. I guess the transition from being so sure and confident walking down the street, to literally feeling like a lost puppy looking up at street signs, is a hard one to make.

Sure it’s damn hard, but when you start to familiarise yourself with your area and begin to figure it all out, it’s such a rewarding feeling.

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Your support network is 14hours ahead of you

Sure it’s beyond easy to keep in touch with people back home these days with the internet. But one thing the internet can’t change is time zones. Sydney is 14hours ahead of Montréal. 14 HOURS! Sydney is in the future! It’s always ‘tomorrow’ in Sydney. It’s not impossible, it’s just more difficult when you need to talk to someone.

I think this is one of the hardest things about living abroad, is that the life you had is 14 hours away. And when you don’t have someone to talk to, you have to learn to deal with your thoughts in a positive way yourself, which can at times be challenging. It gives you a unique opportunity to get to know yourself on a very personal, different and deep level. To understand your strengths and also acknowledge your weaknesses.

A new city, a new country, a new start

How often do you get to move somewhere and have a completely fresh start? You’re free to reinvent yourself in whatever way you choose! Usually when you move abroad, you don’t know many people in that city… moving to Montréal I knew of 3 people that lived here (when I moved to London, I knew 1 – my cousin). When you don’t know many people, you need to put yourself out there and say yes. By doing this, you’ll be surprised by how many people you’ll meet.

I’ve been in Montréal for just over a week now and by going out to drinks with my housemate and his friends, meeting up with girls from Facebook, or meeting some locals to take you to the best cafes in your area… I feel that I’m steadily building an awesome network of friends which I’m extremely grateful for.

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It will challenge you to your core

So thankfully in the few days I’ve been in Montréal this hasn’t happened yet (but I know it will come)… there will be times when everything seems too hard. When things go wrong, you don’t get paid right, you lose something important, you miss out on an important celebration back home, you spend a rainy day in your room, and get a bit lonely or homesick.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” These things are hard enough when they happen at home. Add the complexities of living in another country and it can sometimes become a lot to deal with. But it’s all of these little experiences, good and bad, that help you to become a better and stronger person. To be resilient, motivated, dedicated, strong and accepting or yourself and others around you. There’s not too many times in your life that you get to experience something like this.

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You never know what’s around the corner…

But why should you do it now?

I feel that the older you get, the more commitments you have, and the harder it is for you to uproot your life and move to another country. I’ve already found it significantly more challenging this time around. I think because I was so comfortable in my routine back in Wollongong. And I’m only 22! I barely have any responsibilities! Imagine when I’m 25, 28, 30, 30+… I would imagine it would only become harder with age and responsibilities.

Sure – the list above may not be all that encouraging… there’s definitely huge challenges you’ll need to overcome, there’ll be moments when you’re lonely, lost and just have no idea what’s going on. But for every challenge and difficulty there is… there’s about 50 positives. Like making lifelong friends, immersing yourself in a new culture, (sometimes) learning a new language, getting to discover new neighbourhoods, towns, cities and countries nearby… the list is endless.

So… the only real question left to ask is… where to?!

Arriving in MONTRÉAL: First Impressions

The time has arrived! I’ve finally made it to Montréal! It’s so surreal being here! After months and months and months of planning, emailing, organising, getting excited and nervous…. I’m here! Inspired by one of my blogger friends, Assia from Journal by Assia, I thought I would share my first impressions on this incredible place!

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The Architecture

The first thing that really struck me was the incredibly unique architecture! It’s a fusion of classic American red brick buildings, with cute French stair cases, balconies, pot plants and terraces. I really haven’t seen anything like it before and it’s quite amazing just wondering around and being constantly surprised.

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The French-ness & THAT accent

A lot of people told me that it will be useful knowing French in Montréal but no one ever said just how useful it would be! Literally everything is in French! Especially the area I’m living in – near the Mont-Royal metro – called The Plateau – it’s super French! It’s great because it means I get to practice my French on a daily basis!

I was also ‘warned’ about the Quebecois accent. But again – no one warned me enough! The first time I heard it I just assumed they were speaking a completely different language and were from out of town. Then I understood a word or two – then a phrase… and then it clicked that ‘oh my god… that’s French!’ It’s quite difficult to understand because they speak really fast and the accent is quite thick but I’m getting by!

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EVERYTHING is in French

It’s a good place to be creative

Even the streets of Montréal ooze creativity and artistry! There’s murals everywhere and they’re absolutely spectacular! On my first day here I went to a cafe to get some much needed coffee and read a book. In the cafe there were people filming a video clip for a song they were about to release! I said that I could leave so I wouldn’t disturb them, but they insisted I stay. It was pretty cool just chilling in this hipster cafe with such cool art everywhere, watching the making of a video clip! Definitely feeling the inspiration!

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Just a causal mural off of the main street

My apartment is simply gorgeous

It’s all well and good to see pictures of where you’re going to be living and thinking it looks nice. But it’s such an amazing feeling when you arrive to find it is even more beautiful than in the pictures! My room is ENORMOUS! I don’t even know what to do with all of the space! It’s got beautiful wooden floor boards, the wifi is fast, the shower is hot, and it’s in the perfect location! Literally 2 minutes to the metro and there’s coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques on each corner.

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My room slowly coming together with some photos, pillows and plants

Greenery is a must

Right outside of my metro is this cute plant store (picture below). And wondering around, the streets are lined with gorgeous trees, there’s pot plants and flowers on balconies they’re just absolutely adorable. Naturally, I had to get my hands on some!

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Flowers, pots, herbs and succulents galore!

So for just $3 each, I managed to get a cactus, a succulent and a purple thing (I forgot the name). They just make my room feel like home. Along with my cute candle, I also bought some incense too which is so soothing and relaxing! Positive vibes all around!

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So it’s only been 2.5 days here but I think I’m in love already! My housemate arrives on Monday (tomorrow) and I’m excited to meet him! It’s been good having these first few days to figure things out for myself. To speak franglais, to find cafes, supermarkets and my way around.

It’s scary and exciting at the same time! This place is going to be home for the next few months and I’m just so relieved I’m living in a nice place in an awesome part of the city! These are just my first impressions and I’m sure as time goes by, and I meet more people and get started at uni, my thoughts will continue to change and evolve!

 

My Epic Travel Plans: JUNE – AUGUST

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

After putting some plans into action, I can finally reveal to you my incredibly exciting plans for the next few months! One of the best things about travel is planning. And one of the other good things is actually making these plans come to life! Now, it’s just a matter of time.

24th June: Sydney -> Manila (one night stopover)

25th June: Manila -> London (I’m back baby!)

26th June – 3rd July: LONDON! I’m talking visiting old friends, visiting my old house, my old local pub and my old stomping ground which is East London. I’m also talking visiting friends that I haven’t seen for years, and visiting places I didn’t get to go when I was there in 2013.

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Hamstead Heath, London. One of my favourite places. Source

3rd July – 29th July – La Rochelle, France. So I’m spending a month in France doing an AIM Overseas Short Course. For 4 weeks I’ll be living, learning and breathing everything French. I’ll be studying French language every morning, and be doing cultural activities like tasting wine and cheese in the afternoon. This is where I’ll be for Bastille Day and my birthday! I’m a little nervous because I haven’t studied French for the past 6 months but I think there’s only one way to learn… and that’s do as the French do.

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The beautiful streets of La Rochelle! Source

29th July – 12th August: Roadtrip/Epic Adventures! I don’t have any locked in plans as of yet, but that’s always fun, just to wing it a little and see where I end up. I may go north to Rennes, Mont St Michel or Dinan. I may go south to Toulouse, Bayonne and end up in Spain in San Sebastian. Or I may go south east and go to Nice, Cannes and through to Italy. Wherever I go and whoever I’m with, I know I’ll have an awesome time!

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San Sebastian, Spain… who knows where I’ll end up? Source

12th August – 18th August: ICELAND! I am beyond ridiculously excited to go back to Iceland! I was there in Winter of 2014 where I nearly froze to death. This year, I’ll be returning in Summer (where it’s still likely to be cold) but nonetheless… I’m determined to get out there and discover all that this unique country has to offer. I’m planning on visiting friends, chasing waterfalls and swimming in natural thermal hot springs! Watch out Iceland!

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Akureyri, Iceland. Source

18th August —- MONTREAL! As of the 18th of August, I’ll be in Montreal. I’ll be here until late December as an exchange student at the University of Concordia! A part from having to organise where I’m going to be living during this time, everything is coming together nicely and I freakin’ cannot wait!

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Cannot wait to explore French Canada! Source 

And from there, who knows? But hey, I think that’s the best part!