Lessons Learned: On Moving To Another Country

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As a child I was always dreadfully afraid of change. Any sort of an adjustment in my routine would set adrift a flurry of anxiety. It could take many months for me to settle into a new system. The changes could range from miniscule shifts in routine such as a new semester at school, right up to large scale life changes, which has included moving to an entirely new continent as a young teenager. Nothing like spending those awkward teenage years in an entirely new part of the world!

So it is no surprise that I avoided any major changes in my life like the plague. Commitments that cause any sort of upheaval in routine were swiftly rejected. A multitude of excuses were concocted and categorized in my head for easy access. While small to medium term adjustments might have been acceptable, it was because I always knew that I had the option to fall-back on my carefully set routine.

Flash forward to 2016 – where I make the crazy, bold and emotionally-fuelled decision to uproot my entire life in Toronto and pursue and international job opportunity across the globe in London. I knew at the time I was making the decision that it was one that would unearth the anxiety that I had spent a significant amount of my grown life trying to control. However, I also knew that I was doing myself a disservice by not taking a chance in my life. How could I expect to lead a life sprinkled with adventure, breath-taking experiences and enlightened views when I confined my life within a ten block radius in my hometown? Oh how we build our own barriers!

While the decision to ‘take the plunge’ was difficult, what followed was even more challenging. I had to move my life to a new country. By the time I eventually felt somewhat settled in my new life in London (i.e., the very long drawn out ‘transition period’), I reflected upon the following critical lessons learned:

Don’t worry about the logistics

This was single-handedly the best piece of advice I had received when I was making a decision on whether to move to London.  I was told to not worry about the logistics of how I would get to London. Don’t worry about how to pack up my apartment, how long it will take to move my belongings, etc. This piece of advice saved me from a lot of unnecessary worry. I would have spent an obnoxious amount of time concerned about the logistics and that would have kept me from focusing on the real question – whether I was willing to take this chance in my life. In the end, the packing got done, the belongings moved and logistics were all manageable.

Find a new routine

While I am a firm believer in leaving a bit of room for adventure in your life, I (clearly) thrive better with a routine. This means that as soon as I got to London, I replicated some of the routines that worked best for me in Toronto.  On the first day I landed I made my way to the local gym and signed up for a membership. I found the local grocery store and familiarized myself with the availability of my favourite food options. These small steps towards establishing a new life made me feel more comfortable with my surroundings and allowed me to carry on my usual routines in a new city.

Understand that things won’t go your way

This was the hardest lesson that I had to learn during the transition period. It came in the midst of a series of setbacks and difficulties that often had me going cross-eyed with anxiety. It is almost certain that there will be moments where nothing will go as planned. Things will fall apart momentarily, only to fall back together shortly thereafter. It is imperative that you come to this realization as soon as possible; otherwise you will only set yourself up for nothing short of a total meltdown!

While my move to London was a fairly large-scale life change, I believe these lessons are applicable under any magnitude of change. The important thing is be willing to take chances in your life and accept that change, while uncomfortable at first (and second and maybe even third), can provide you with the opportunity to truly experience an extraordinary life.

Khadija is a young professional currently living in the great city of Toronto. She’s previously lived in Montreal, Paris, and New Orleans and loves pretty much everything and anything French. She is currently on a mission to explore the cultural and culinary offerings of Toronto and “open the door” to new experiences. You can follow her adventures on her Instagram account @ouvrirlaporte.

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