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Emotional effects of moving away 2008/9/5 06:11

To move away from my home has been a plan of mine for quite a while, and with all the technical and physical preparations aside, I know there are emotional preparations that have to be done too.

What I mean by this is not just studying abroad for a year - I mean quite literally moving abroad to take a full university education; therefore 'almost' starting a new life and being abroad for at least 4-6 years.

Whilst it's very exciting, fun and perhaps daunting to leave everything behind and almost start anew, I know that most people go through a period of initial depression, culture shock or homesickness no matter how well one is prepared. The temporary feelings of missing your family, home environment, friends, cat, etc - along with the initial culture shock and readjustment to your new life.

What do you find as the best ways of dealing with these effects of moving abroad? Not just the effects you feel, but the ways your family might feel at the start too - in my case two parents, a younger sister and a cat. Well, I'm not so much looking for general advice, but does anyone have any stories of their own they don't mind sharing; from moving to Japan or elsewhere?

I'm asking because I'm planning - though it's still a hopeful stage - to move to China (I know it's not Japan, but the subject matter is relevant nonetheless and I'd been considering Japan too in the past). I know all about keeping in contact by phone, webcam, etc, but I'm looking to understand better.

I will be 18 this month, and in my second college year in the UK. If everything goes as I hope, I may be leaving college with three A grades. I've already considered most of the usual factors - finance, universities, living and location, etc

Thank you!
by Joshua  

moving away 2008/9/6 16:04
I grew up in Europe and at the time--and perhaps still is-- if your parents lived in a small town it was normal to leave them at around age 10 and move to a big town (either living with distant relatives or family friends or in a boarding school) in order to attend a "GOOD" school. So many other students were in the same boat that it was totally normal and nothing to be depressed about. Some kids saw their parents during school holidays but I went back "home" for part of every weekend. While in college I lived much farther away from my family for 3 years, seeing them only during short school vacations. In those days we had no internet and cell phones of course and communicated by letters. Land phones were too expensive to use and reserved for emergencies.While in college I didn't go home one summer but went to Suomi-Finland to study and work. I was so busy I barely had time to miss my family. After college I was sent to Germany (these was in the late 1960s) for over 2 years. I went home for a couple of weeks after 6 months then didn't go back until my contract was finished. I learned German in school but worked in French and English as I did in Suomi-Finland. This is likely why it wasn't too hard to eventually move to another continent.
by Red frog rate this post as useful

Living abroad 2008/9/6 16:24
What do you find as the best ways of dealing with these effects of moving abroad?
I've been working and living abroad from some 25 years now and the best advice I can give you is to learn the local language and try to make friends with the locals. This might seem obvious but I've worked with colleagues from my home country and they spent most of their free time talking each other into a depression. In my experience it is not so much of missing family and friends as it is the frustration in dealing with councils and other bureaucrats that creates this unhappy feeling.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

Enjoy the Hell 2008/9/6 19:13
When I was 18 I didn't move away but my parents did. They went abroad and they insisted I go with them but I refused. I refused and went back to my hometown from a temporary place I lived in with my parents (my parents moved a lot and always took me with them). Then I started missing my parents in my very hometown while living next door to my grandparents and going to my dream college there.

But I didn't care, because that's what I was aiming for. I always knew I was spoiling myself by living with my parents and I knew I needed to live away from them in order to grow up. My mother would gather stories about what a hell it is to live apart from parents and try to convince me to come. I heard she cried when we were finally parted, and she was the type who'd never cry.

But the more I heard these stories, the more I thought I was heading for independance and I was. And after a while as my mother assumed I suffered, and I made many mistakes caused by those emotional effects. But I don't think I could've matured the way I have today if I hadn't gone through the sufferings.

At the same time, those sufferings made me realize how great my mother's cooking was. It made me speak with my father again, of whom I hadn't gone well with for a very long time. It got me off my high horse enough to go visit my other grandmother from my mother's side so that I could enjoy some of my mom's recipes. It made me learn how to cook by myself.

So being homesick and suffering through it made me grow up and open up at the same time. The hell brought me paradise.

And those were all in the pre-internet, pre-email days when international phone calls cost a fortune not to mention the enormous air fare I had to pay when I saved my moonlighting money to backpack around my parents' town.
by Uco rate this post as useful

wow... 2008/9/7 05:51
I think if you really want to do that you should do it......I mean maybe the first time you will feel homesick and miss your family and so on.....but If this is your dream you schould do that....I mean itLs not like you seee them never again.....they could also travel and meet you......
ILm a little bit jealous on you....you live my livedream......
I think if you really want to.....you will get it....

Hope I could help you
by loveancafe rate this post as useful

More 2008/9/7 05:54
Other then what people already mentioned having an internet connection with your friends and family at home is great. What I mean by that is get everyone on the same system. Like Skype, yahoo messenger, AOL ect.. Get a web cam and voice hook up. I think it's cool that I can just hop online with my Mom and talk about what she bought at the grocery store that day with no pressure of long distance phone rates. With the web cam I can see my nieces and nephews growing up aswell. I also have a photo sharing program so I can see all the special events that I'm not able to attend.
A once a year trip home is a good idea too if you can manage it. I go home for Christmas every year (for the past 5 years). It's a good idea to make sure you have some money set aside for an emergency trip back home. Bad stuff happens and sometimes your gonna have to make a trip home.
As far as combating "Bad feelings" I'm not going to lie (for me) Living in another country and culture has been a rollercoaster ride. There were times when I first got here when I curled up repeating "I want to go home" over and over in my head. The good news is those feelings pass. I find it much easier now that I have a grasp on the language. Do not take that advice for granted! Language goes on long way in promoting your social life. Also get involved! I became a member of my towns "Sister City" program. We work closly with other cities all over the world (including my home country) organizing events and student exchange. We hold events in my town too so I got to know alot of people.

Good luck!
by Redrum rate this post as useful

Thank you for your answers 2008/9/8 08:02
Firstly, I'm sorry for my late response due to my college studies.

I'm very grateful for your replies, and thank you very much for sharing your stories. Red Frog, I can understand it must have been very different when today's technologies of convenience did not exist. It's clear you've had a lot of experiences moving away and working/studying in different places - from such a young age I suppose you got used to it much more easily. I also agree that keeping yourself busy for intensive periods of time would help you miss your family much less. Thank you for sharing your long story, it's been really helpful to me and very interesting to know about.

I agree Kappa, learning the language and talking to friends is surely a very important aspect of moving abroad. I can imagine that simply speaking your home language with a select few can only make you feel more closed off. When I go to China I plan to spend the first 2 years intensively studying Mandarin (to gain the proficiency to attend university), so during that time I will be hopefuly conversing in as much Chinese as possible. Thank you for your advice.

I'm glad to hear that such new maturity and independence grew from the difficulties you faced, Uco. Even though it sounds like it could have been very difficult for you - you focused on your aims in your dream college, gained your independence and like you said, felt far more mature by the end. I think that's definitely worth the troubles to gain. I'm happy to hear that this helped you find your paradise.

Thank you for your kind encouragement, loveancafe, is it really your dream too? I hope things go well for you too, and I wish you all the best. I appreciate your reply :)

I agree, an internet connection plus webcam is probably the best thing to stay in contact with family. As a plus, my cat could see me too as you can't really tell your pet where you're going :) Thank you for the advice - especially about the extra savings since I didn't take into account before the chances of home emergencies.

Thank you once again everyone, it's very helpful to hear of people's success stories despite the difficulty.
by Joshua rate this post as useful

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