5 Important Life Lessons From Living Abroad

If you’re going to be one of those judgmental people who roll their eyes at people who refer to their experience abroad as life-changing than this isn’t for you. Feel free to go read another post though!

I moved to Korea because I felt so suffocated in my life. I was so unsatisfied with the way I was living that I knew I had to make a big change. I had always dreamed of traveling and living abroad but never thought that I could make it happen – until I realized no one was going to do it for me, I had to make it happen myself. Now that my time in Korea is coming to an end it felt appropriate to write a post dedicated to the things I’ve learned from moving across the world. I will state, that until you experience it for yourself, reading this post may sound extremely cliché/boring. Actually – take out the may. It WILL sound cliché and boring. But I love clichés because they’re the real deal.

  1. Relationships Are EVERYTHING

This may seem pretty obvious but I left Korea sort of with this “I don’t need anyone” mentality. I wanted to be independent so badly. I had never truly spent this much time alone, and as important as I think alone time is it’s so hard to make long-lasting experiences when you don’t have anyone to share it with. I’ve realized how unpredictable life is and that your family (or whoever you deem as family, not necessarily blood) is truly the most important thing. Experiencing the world is so amazing, but without friends and family to share it with, what does it mean?

   2. Setting Boundaries & Saying NO

As the middle child, being a people pleaser is in my DNA. I couldn’t say no to anyone. I wanted to be liked so badly that I said yes to EVERYTHING even when I didn’t want to. My biggest fear was being un-liked. Before I left, I was so mentally and physically drained from saying yes to so many things that it started to take a toll on me physically. I was so run down I was getting sick every other weekend. I was so exhausted that the moment I finally got to Korea I didn’t go out for 3 months because every weekend all I wanted to do was sleep in. This is something that I still struggle with, but I’m getting better at it. 

Think about the highest version of yourself – I’m sure one of the qualities they have is energetic. To be energetic you have to make sacrifices, you need to start saying no to things if you don’t actually feel like it. So next time you make plans – is it something you truly want to do? Or will you start resenting the other person? There’s nothing worse than going through with plans you don’t actually want to do. It’s not fun for anyone involved. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.

3. Invest In Yourself

If you’ve seen my page and notice anything its that I love skincare, it’s such a calming form of self-care for me – but it wasn’t always this way. I had realized that I had unconsciously been neglecting myself for a while. I never invested in workout classes, skincare, outfits I truly wanted to wear and feel confident in, hair, nails – you name it. I had always made excuses for these things, its too much money, I don’t actually need it, etc. I only let myself splurge on these things in preparation for a special occasion. I was subconsciously telling myself that I didn’t deserve these things. I wouldn’t even buy a $15 monthly subscription to my favorite online workout class because I didn’t want to spend the money I felt guilty. I know we all have to be conscious about money and what we spend. But there are always ways to make it work, taking care of yourself physically – whether its buying fresh produce from the farmers market, investing in some nice skincare, buying a new outfit that makes you feel confident – all of these are important. You have to start imagining the best version of yourself. For myself that means feeling put together. She puts thought and care into how she looks because SHE feels more confident that way. Stop dressing up for other people and start doing it for YOU.

4. Do more of what makes YOU happy

When was the last time you did something that genuinely made you happy?  Without alcohol? The older we get the less attention we give to hobbies. Something other than work and social lives that truly make us happy like that genuine true happiness from the soul (not the bottle lol). After I moved away I’d realized my social life and work was the only thing I had identified with. But what did I enjoy doing outside of those things? I was actually shocked to realize I had no hobbies. So I made a list of all the things that truly made me happy and started doing those things more, it included: my morning cup of coffee, yoga, going for long walks, cooking, writing & creating content that helps people, reading a good book, picnics, etc. 

These are just to name a few. They aren’t big and spectacular hobbies, but they do really make me happy. The more I started putting these things first, the happier I became and happy people are just better to be around. 

Make a list of the last time you felt genuinely happy, start doing more of that. Make time for it. 

5.  Time Waits for Noone

If it’s one thing I’ve realized it’s how fast 1 year goes by..I can’t even begin to tell you how weird it is to be writing this with only 1 month left in this beautiful country. There were times where I would wish the year would go by faster or I wish I was home already or I wish I could fast forward my life so that I would have more money or a better job, etc. But what happens when I get to that point? I’m just going to want more. There was a time where all I wanted was to get away, and when I got to Korea I immediately thought – what next? I started thinking about the end of my life and how upset I would be if I got there and realized I wanted time to go by faster. I think we tend to ignore the fact that we will only live this life one time. It’s scary and hard but what’s scarier is realizing that at  75 years old. 

So I’m telling you to slow down, you do not have to have everything figured out because nobody does. This is life. It’s so unpredictable, there are no rules and you have to start remembering that you are here to do more than pay bills and retire at 60. You are here to LIVE. To experience the world and all the amazing things it has to offer. To feel everything, the good and the bad. Whether its to experience loss or grief, we have to be grateful that we’re even capable of feeling that at all. Take it all in and stop judging yourself for having feelings. Honor your sadness, honor your stress but just know that at the end of the day you are in control of how you feel and how you react. You are not your thoughts. Stop living in autopilot and start finding joy in the small things. It’s so important. There are people who would give anything to live 1 more day. Stop taking advantage of being alive. Stop putting unnecessary stress on yourself – you are here to enjoy this life!

There are so many more things I could say. But overall, what I have learned is that life is completely non-linear. There are no rules or guidelines you have to follow. I’ve realized how much unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves to the point we dread waking up every morning. If you are not satisfied with the way your life looks you are the only person who can change it. Another cliche but whatevs. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Share it with someone if it resonates with you. 

With love, 

Heather

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