Everything Can Go Wrong, But It Probably Won’t: The Highs and Lows of Moving Abroad

View of Palacio Real de Madrid

I knew that moving abroad would be stressful and that I would have to deal with a lot of logistics. I knew that I would have to get a visa extension, a bank account, an apartment and a phone plan all in the first month. For someone who gets overwhelmed by going to the post office, this laundry list was daunting but it was something I was willing to deal with in order to realize my dream of moving to Spain.

Looking down to corridor from Plaza Mayor

What I didn’t account for was all the unexpected stressors and inconveniences that come with moving to a new country. For me these included: losing my American SIM card, my laptop completely breaking down two weeks into my move, having to get a new laptop shipped from the U.S. in order to have an English keyboard, and losing access to a lot of my apps and accounts due to my phone number change and new laptop. As you can probably tell, technology is not my friend.

This series of unfortunate events had me running around an unknown city, making multiple phone calls in an unfamiliar language, and spending money I had not originally budgeted for. However, while I endured some sleepless nights and a few emotional calls to my parents, I was able to get it all worked out. And that’s what I have to remind myself.

I’ve learned that my outlook and attitude have more power than any of these inconveniences. Sometimes, something as simple as losing your SIM card can seem like a huge disaster when piled on top of other stressors. Things can start to look pretty bleak and I am definitely guilty of overreacting at times when one small thing goes wrong, but I’m getting better.

Palacio de Cristal in Retiro Park

The thing about travel or living abroad is that everything is augmented. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and sometimes having to make a customer service phone call in Spanish seems like the most impossible task. But, we persevere, and we make it to the other side. Oftentimes, we emerge stronger and more empowered because we accomplished something that we never would have had we just stayed in our comfortable little bubble.

It’s such a cliche, but travel isn’t just about exploring new places, it’s about exploring the depths within ourselves and pushing past what is familiar. Though it can be uncomfortable at times we should all go somewhere, do something, meet someone new. It’s not always the beautiful scenic view of an ancient city. Sometimes it’s getting lost while trying to reach your visa appointment; but the lows make the highs that much more beautiful and that’s why I found myself on an plane one month ago moving to a new country in search of new adventures.



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Shea is the photographer, artist, and blogger behind Sheaish.com. She lives in Madrid, Spain teaching English and traveling through Europe. When she isn’t awkwardly taking photos of herself in public places with her tripod, Shea enjoys drawing, eating ice cream, talking about her dog, and watching 30 Rock all the way through for the 18th time.

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