What you actually learn when you live abroad

30 years and five countries made me a mix of island farm girl and cosmopolitan lady. Every time I notice someone thinking I am composed and posh, I think myself collecting potatoes on the field. When I am back home home and friends tell how their water pipes froze again, I wonder how they survive – they actualy must take care of some stuff immediately.

If you end up country hopping, you might relate to these bullet points, or just want to remember them for the future.

Extra standards for me: Find a gym. Find a park to run at. Find a grocery store with decent price-quality combination. Get tupperware, decide the new standard meals and basic groceries.

And, as there are countries, there are borders. It means, things, which you barely thought about, just got a load more complicated.


  • Apartment. Unnecessary to say, a must. Life is not good on a friend’s couch for too long. Do proper research about the areas before you are settling in. How well is it connected? How safe it is? How expensive it is? Internet knows everything!
  • All-the-formal-boring-must-have-stuff just got much more complicated: Tax clarifications, bank accounts, still- and non-existing mobile numbers which are tied to those bank accounts.
  • Health insurance, doctor, dentist – learn how this works! if you have to register for a doctor to use his/her services, find one and register to one when you are not in a rush and before you actually need one
  • Country: Learn the unspoken rules. What is expected, learn what is polite, learn what are the norms


  • Make friends. In the beginning, this is almost like a job, especially if you don’t want to hang out only with your colleagues. Go to meet ups, talk to people, start hobbies. Re-connect with old friends via facebook if they have ended up to the same location. You don’t need a fan club, you don’t need a gang, but it is simply nice to have some friends around. Those, who you can talk about good and bad, and who take a walk with you on a sunny day. Your friend circle will most likely evovle over time.


  • I hope you already learned what you like. Even better, you learned to enjoy the time on your own. This way you can have fun any time, and your life is not bound to the moments you have company. Also, you relate to the right people. I like museums, theatre and interesting coffee shops. I don’t like to force myself to crowded places, shopping or pubs to just spend time. I catch up rather over coffee or wine than over a pint or go clubbing. Not everything hipstery or cool is for me.
  • Ask yourself, what kind of feelings and spaces you need. I like to have a good place to write, a space to write my diary, a favorite bookshop (or a couple of them) and a place to watch people.
  • Don’t try to re-invent yourself if you don’t feel like it (but of course feel free to do that). I by nowadays only white bedlinen, often the same brand of tea anywhere and white tulips every spring. I don’t try new work-out classes because I prefer gym, yoga and running. I order and re-order the same protein powder again and again.


  • Make the best out of the place you are in – has it events? Has it a great artistic scene? An amazing professional drive? Amazing people? Good work-out scene?

Abroad or not, live is happening now and here. You might have immigrated for work, but end up settling in completely. It does not matter if it is a visit or if it is your destination – make the best out of your life every day!