Temporarily Moving Abroad? Read This.


It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been nearly two years since I went abroad on my TEFL internship to Venezuela. I lived there from February until April of 2016 and even though it was a short time and I haven’t been back since, I still consider Merida, Venezuela my second home.



Lately I’ve been feeling this odd sense of homesickness for Merida, and thinking back on a lot of the memories and feelings I experienced while I was there. I remember a few times while abroad where I allowed myself to fall back into an at-home habit of just staying in and doing nothing when I could have made more memories in the city.

My only regret from this period of time was that I started to take it for granted and get too comfortable. It wasn’t until I left the country that it really sunk in for me that my time and every experience I had there was temporary.

Merida, Venezuela, as seen from the Andes Mountains

There are so many reasons to move abroad temporarily: Working holiday visas, TEFL contracts, and bases for bloggers, and more. If you’re here because you’re getting ready to move abroad and you know that it’ll be temporary, my one piece of advice is to always keep in the back of your mind that you won’t be there forever.

When you land at the airport and your excitement turns into fear at the realization that you are now in a foreign, faraway city, where you know absolutely nobody, this is the one thing that you should remember:

It’s only temporary.

This mantra will help you push past the initial culture shock and loneliness and make it a bit easier to deal with the homesickness.

But hopefully it will also help you to remember to appreciate every moment of your situation and make the most of every experience you are possibly able to have here.

Because once you get over the culture shock and the unfamiliarity, new things in this new place will become familiar.

You will make friends and form bonds that may seem closer and stronger than any that you made at home.

You will get the hang of navigating your way around the streets of this now strange city, and even figure out the public transportation system in a language you aren’t fluent in.

Your group of friends will have its regular hangout spots. You will form a new routine. You will get used to the weather.

But it’s only temporary.

You will feel homesickness for this once strange place even years after you’ve left it. Your fond memories of your day-to-day routines and friends and favourite restaurants will play over and over again, vividly in your head. You will toy with the idea of someday returning to this place but know deep down that you never will, because it won’t be exactly the same as it was when you left.

Because it was only temporary.

My hope is that you learn to believe in yourself enough to work through the anxiety and the homesickness and the foreignness and work to enjoy and appreciate every moment and experience this adventure brings. I hope you head to this strange country ready to live your best life and truly realize how lucky you are to be in this place, with a blank slate and endless possibilities ahead of you.

Have you ever lived abroad temporarily? What is it that you miss the most?



About Erica

My wanderlust was ignited when I booked my first solo trip to India in 2015. Since then, I've developed a passion for ethical and sustainable travel, and I'm here to help you learn how to make a positive impact through your travels.

22 Comments

  1. Loved this, Erica. It’s timely because I’ve been feeling very strongly that I am meant to move to a foreign country for a period of my life. I know it won’t be permanent because I love home too much, but I feel like I need to have the experience. And I definitely know I will feel that homesickness because I feel it for places I visited that I fell in love with. Thanks for this lovely article.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! I feel the same – I don’t think I’ve ever felt the desire to live in just one place my entire life. Moving abroad was really the best experience of my life.

  2. I admire you for plucking up the courage to move abroad. I’m a teacher and have been thinking of moving to another country to teach for a while! If it ever happens I will definitely keep this article in mind.

  3. Lisanne

    So many points in this article I agree with! Sometimes you only appreciate it once it’s gone. I love the experience of living somewhere else, but in the beginning it’s always hard to fully enjoy it. It’s a good thing to have in mind when going to a new place, that eventually it will be amazing and that you need to enjoy every second

  4. We live abroad, but not temporarily, we’ve been teaching abroad for nearly 11 years now. The fears and feelings are still the same though. I’m not sure that changes, even though you know it will be ok because it always has been before, or when it wasn’t you could change it.

  5. Addie

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me. I am getting ready to relocate for a little while due to my husbands job and can’t stop thinking about how much I’m going to miss my family and our daughter not growing up with her relatives. BUT I have to remember it is only temporary and I should enjoy the experience. THANKS for the reminder!

  6. Yes, long time I stayed in India. During that time I missed my mom the most! At the beginning, I felt lonely and bad but later started loving that new place. It was fun and at the same time learn a lot of things from many good and bad experiences. 🙂

  7. You lived in Venezuela?? I traveled through much of South America but never made it to Venezuela, sadly. I’d love to go. I lived abroad in Nicaragua for a few months last year and I miss it constantly. It’s amazing how quickly the time goes by and all of a sudden it’s time to leave again. This post makes me want to pack my bags and head out on another expat adventure!

  8. I love this post! I also sometimes feel homesick for the first city I lived abroad in (Valparaíso, Chile) and I wish I’d spent some of my time better while I was there. On another note, how did you feel in Venezuela? I’ve been dying to visit but I’m not sure because of the current situation there.

    • Honestly I did not once feel unsafe in Venezuela, and I was there for 3 months. I’m not sure what it’s really like there now; I know the economic/political situation has gotten worse.

      I stayed in Merida, which is definitely one the safest areas in the country and I haven’t heard of anything bad happening there even still. If you do decide to go, let me know if you want any tips! 🙂

  9. Ruth | Tanama Tales

    I think if you are on a place temporarily (and you know that) you should plan to do what you want to do as soon as possible. Time will move on and, when you least expect it, it is time to go back home. So, visit the places you want to visit and do the things you want to to do. And, make sure you take advantage of opportunities.

  10. How true ! Well written article. Same thing happened with me although within India only I stayed in Mumbai for a year but never explored much.now I regret ! Thanks for sharing this !

  11. Good article. Very helpful to those who feel the same way and who are moving abroad. I’m sure it must be tough to get used to a foreign place. But like you said, it’s only temporary so might as well enjoy it.

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