Working Abroad…. The Scariest and Most Rewarding Things I Have Ever Done

Leaving my job, family and friends in the UK to work in Belgium was daunting, agonising beforehand over whether I was doing the right thing. Five years on (with the benefit of hindsight) it was a great experience both professionally and personally which provided me with new experiences as well as gaining life-long friends.


If you are considering relocating overseas here are some tips and considerations that might help you make that move.   


Moving abroad was, in all honesty, much simpler than I expected. Always having been in the back of my mind, and at a point in my life where the lack of ties and the need for a new challenge sent my job search wandering further afield.

The move was all I could have hoped for, other than a couple of days early on, when the confines of  the business apartment got me down, the language had me foxed, and my inability to find milk pushed me to the edge of reason.

The opportunity helped me to be more confident, strong and open-minded, and was also great fun. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life.


You are a hoarder… When you start to put your life in order ahead of the big move, the most insignificant realisation is that you own too much stuff! Only when you need to pack your life into 2 suitcases do you truly realise how much stuff you have and how little of it is meaningful and even less useful!

You will vow,  in this moment to stop saving half used cosmetics that didn’t suit your skin type,  boxes for electricals you will never return, shoes that never really fit and faulty phone chargers; you won’t, you will do it all again in your new place in your new country, you will buy more junk to remind you of home, you will save items that made you smile and your will surround yourself with things to make you feel more settled, but, be happy in the knowledge you had a good de-clutter, and you are not about to drown in your belongings!


Be open to possibilities…

Landing in a new town/city will really push you to the edge of your comfort zone, you will need to step outside to find new friends, a new home, new hobbies, new everything! It’s not easy but little by little it will all come together, don’t rush it, you can’t expect to duplicate your friends network and routine in a new city overnight, make the most of small wins; a new route home from work that saves you 30 min, discovering the Doctors surgery in your road, and having a coffee with the couple in the business flat opposite yours, all major steps in making yourself at home, and you should praise yourself for every step.


I’ll pick up the language…

You will quickly learn you accent is a great icebreaker, people will be keen to chat and learn more about you and your situation as soon as then know you are not a local. This is a great way to make friends but what you will find is this gives you less and less opportunity to practice your local language skills, you will find many people are more than happy to talk in English if they can, and they also want to practice, they learnt at school and hone their language skills with TV and Film, but very rarely get to talk to real English people!

This does make your life easier, but you will still need that evening class.


Who are you running from?

You will definitely meet people, home and away, that just can’t understand why you would do such a thing, pack up your life and move to a whole new country? They assume you must have issues, you must be running away from something or someone. Some people will consider it brave and wondrous, and others will just think you are out of your mind. Deal with it, be proud you are doing this for the incredible lifestyle experience you will get and the opportunities for your career, not everyone will think this is a good idea!


Home sickness works in mysterious ways

There are some home comforts that just can’t be substituted, and weirdly, whilst you can easily talk to the people you miss from home, Skype with a T-bag just isn’t going to help.

You will learn to travel very light when you visit, so you can fill your cases with shopping, for me this would be T-bags, Biscuits, Squash and Sausages…

Some things you just don’t appreciate until you leave, most importantly, how good our supermarkets are!


You’ll change.

You will become more open minded, more able to problem solve, you will have more confidence in yourself and your ability to get things done, you will work it out!

You will discover new hobbies and passions, you will learn new skills, these may or may not be languages – you will live without Coronation Street (and when you visit you won’t have a clue what’s happening)

Your relationships will also change, you will have some people in your life who you appreciate more because you see them less, and others that will just fade away. Be prepared that not everyone who promised to visit will, some of your closest friends will let you down. But you will also find, that the bond with your best friends becomes stronger, you can go without seeing each other for a year or more, and catch up like you never missed a beat. Be thankful for this, you can’t learn how powerful this is until you have been apart.

Enjoy Every Moment.

It’s an amazing opportunity to challenge yourself, but remember to never let a situation override your excitement and your enjoyment, you may never get an opportunity like this again, and you can’t imagine where this could lead, nothing is un-solvable so sit back and be sure you are enjoying every moment.

I am left with a further desire to travel, to push myself, to experience new things, but also with a million happy memories, and a pride in myself for having the guts to go ahead with it all!


Kathryn Barksby: Senior Fashion Recruitment Consultant