You want to change your life and move abroad but you just don’t know where to start. You have a home and a job and basically you’re quite happy but….. you have always dreamed of living in a different country and learning a new language. You wonder how you would manage in a totally different setting. Other people have done it but somehow for you the dream always stays the same – only a dream.
How can you make it happen?
People often say this to me. There are many reasons for moving to a new country but one that comes up again and again is that you just want to give it a try. It feels like it would be an exciting adventure and you really want to give it a go.
The thing is knowing where to start.
How do you move from just dreaming to making it real? How do you get from one place to another? It can feel impossible to even imagine.
Here is what happened to me. Perhaps it will inspire you.
I was living in Cornwall, in my own beautiful cottage in the countryside. I had two beautiful dogs and two equally wonderful cats. I ran my own acupuncture practice and over 15 years had built up a great network of friends and clients. My life felt safe and secure and fulfilling.
But niggling in the background was my dream. I had always dreamt of moving abroad and trying to make a new life in a totally different place. I also wanted to learn a new language.
You know how you make New Year resolutions? Well ever since I was about 10 I had one that said “I want to speak another language”
So, here in 5 steps is how I made the move. I didn’t know there were 5 steps at the time – I just followed my nose and kept the dream alive.
Follow your passion
I know this is a cliché but it was exactly what got me out of my old life and into the new. My passion was, and is, tango. I was willing to open myself up and to visit new places in order to dance. I was part of a small group that organised tango in our town and I also taught beginners’ classes. I wasn’t a very confident person but tango was like a shot of something strong and potent and it gave me courage. When the chance arose to go to Barcelona I put my hand up and said ‘Yes’. In this first trip I fell in love with the city. I already felt like a changed person.
For several years I returned again and again to Barcelona. As often as I could get away. I made it a priority and each time I was there I made new friends and felt more comfortable with both the language and the culture. I started to learn Spanish again and I kept in touch with my new friends.
Share with other people
Other people were very important in this process. I visited and spent time with my Catalan friends and they also came to see me in Cornwall. Every time I went away, friends in the UK stayed in my cottage to take care of my animals. The idea of actually living in Barcelona started to take form. Two of my Catalan friends wanted to come and practise English in Cornwall and I helped them find somewhere to stay. It was a magical time because help was flowing between lots of different people. One of my Cornwall friends needed someone to take care of her elderly mother just at the same time as my two Barcelona friends, both nurses, wanted to come and stay. They became known as the Barcelona Angels! By the time they went back home to Catalunya I had invitations to stay with them when I was ready.
When it is time to make decisions, have courage!
As a cautious sort of person I took little steps but it was still scary as I felt the energy of Barcelona pulling me forward while my fears held me back. I couldn’t imagine leaving my animals but neither could I take them with me to a city. Eventually I decided to take three months off work and go to Barcelona to see what happened next. Some friends offered to stay in my home and look after the animals and it felt like a sign that I couldn’t ignore.
Once in Barcelona I said ‘Yes’ to almost anything that came my way and this included a camping weekend dancing in the Pyrenees. I was pretty ill with bronchitis in my first two weeks here and hardly left the flat because in July the temperatures were horrendous. I was also scared of camping in a small tent with people I didn’t know well, and hesitant about doing a weekend course with a group of people who didn’t speak English. But I said ‘Yes’. On that weekend I met my future partner and my life changed radically from that moment on.
It took 5 years
I was 47 when I first went to Barcelona and when I eventually came to stay for those three months, which turned into 5 years, I was 52. I was never a brave person but I believe that following my passion and listening to my heart helped change my life. Friends old and new helped me along the way with their encouragement and generosity and also my faith that one day I would live abroad and learn a new language.
Even the longest journey must begin where you stand
Lao Tzu (604 BC – 531BC)
Have you ever dreamed of living abroad or have you done it already?
What helped you overcome your fears?
Leave a comment to tell us about your experiences and help someone else who is dreaming of moving.