Let's Move to Australia While We Are Young!

Jamie New home: Sydney, Australia                 Home city & country: Sonoma, California, USA  

Jamie

New home: Sydney, Australia                

Home city & country: Sonoma, California, USA  

Why did you decide to move abroad?

Both my husband and I grew up on the west coast of USA, he in Seattle, Washington and I in Sonoma, California. We met 5 years ago in Seattle, fell in love, and got married in 2015. After getting married, I heavily questioned my full-time sales career. I have always been a highly creative person and had zero creative outlet in the job I was in. And so I quit! After that, my husband and I started fantasizing about moving to Australia. Neither of us had ever been there but, we thought, we don't have any children or pets to hold us down. Let's adventure! In incredibly good standing with his company, my husband was able to work out a transfer and promotion to the Sydney office. It worked out absolutely beautifully. After 9 months of a Visa application process, of course!

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How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

Fortunately for us, my husband's work paid for our housing when we first moved. We were able to choose a fully furnished apartment in Sydney CBD. He actually had to start working right away, so I spent my weekdays walking around the streets of the CBD, getting used to drivers and walkers on the left side! We spent our weekends exploring together, shopping for items that we didn't bring with us (such as all electronic plug-ins!), and venturing to new neighborhoods (like Manly Beach, where we ended moving to after the first month) and meeting new friends and other expats! I also immediately started working on my blog, Balance + Vine (all about yoga and wine!).

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move, Relocate, Australia, California, Yoga

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

Before I moved here, I had very little expectations for what it would be like. I honestly thought it would be very similar to the USA, but with just some subtle differences, like the accent and the weather. I would say since moving here, I have discovered more differences than I anticipated. Differences such as walking and driving on the opposite side of the street actually do shift your mentality. Calling certain veggies, fruits and foods by a different name make me smile (bell peppers are called capsicums here, and cookies are called biscuits here, as just a couple examples). Ultimately I have found a shift within me. I had traveled to other countries before moving to Australia but, for some reason now the world suddenly feels a lot bigger to me. I also find myself more compassionate and appreciative of other people's life stories. I did just write a Balance + Vine blog post exactly about this topic, and would love for you to read it! Here is the link: http://www.balanceandvine.com/blog/the-inside-scoop-on-what-its-like-as-an-american-expat-living-in-australia 

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move, Relocate, Australia, California, Yoga

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

We are still experiencing these cultural differences everyday, more so than I thought we would! Just yesterday, I was visiting the post office and I exclaimed, "Oh, shoot!" to the checker. He giggled at me and said, "Only Americans say that word." I didn't even realize it wasn't a common phrase outside of the States!

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

We now live in Manly Beach. There is something so incredible about actually living on the beach. It is possibly the most beautiful town I have ever seen, and we actually get to live here. On weekends, we spend our days enjoying the beach, surfing, running, laying in the sun, drinking wine (it's so good here!), and so much more. We have been traveling a ton, exploring not only Sydney but the surrounding areas. We have taken weekend trips to Hunter Valley (wine country!), Melbourne and Palm Beach. We cannot wait to explore more, especially up north to the Great Barrier Reef as well as Bali, and east to New Zealand!

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What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

If you are visiting Sydney, visiting Manly Beach is a MUST! Take the ferry ride from Circular Quay (pronounced Key) to Manly. The ferry ride is a treasure in itself. Walk along the Corso, checking out the surf shops and yummy food vendors, then to the beach you must go. Enjoy the sun and relax. You're on Manly time now.

What is the one MUST SEE?

Swim in one of the ocean water pools! These are man made pools that are literally fed by sea water. It's just absolutely gorgeous! There are so many of them spread out throughout the beaches of Sydney. There are at least three that I know of in or around Manly Beach.

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What do you miss most about home?

I miss my family so much! My niece just turned 1 years old and it killed me to not be there for her birthday party. And I really miss fast wi-fi and In 'n Out!

What's next?

We plan to be here for at least 2 years but, perhaps up to 4. Or perhaps we will stay here forever?! It's so tough to decide now, having only been here for 4 months. Time flies!

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Bonjour! From Wisconsin to Montpellier, France

Libby New home: Montpellier, France                      Home city & country: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Libby

New home: Montpellier, France                     

Home city & country: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why did you decide to move abroad?

As the cliché story goes, I studied abroad and realized being in Europe for 5 months was not enough. As graduation approached, I knew I didn't want to be in the United States afterwards. I was in love with Europe, the traveling, the cultures, the languages, the sites, etc. I wanted to solidify a fluency in a second language and live the life I wanted in Europe. I also have a cousin (This is The Milk) who lives in Barcelona, and she assured me it was the right decision and to follow my instincts.

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move Abroad, Wine, France, Food

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

I am going to talk about my first month moving abroad rather than my first month studying abroad. I arrived in France with minimal language skills, no one I knew, and overall frazzled. I spent the first month going from appointment to appointment trying to find an apartment, open a bank account, get a phone, start work, and more all in another language. I was tired and confused about many things, but I was so in love. I immediately knew I made the right decision by moving back over.

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move Abroad, Wine, France, Food

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

The warm welcomes. While I love France, I was scared that I was going to be greeted with the stereotypical rude Parisians and viewed as just another American coming in without knowing a whole lot of French. However, the French were helping me in every way possible. They were welcoming me with open arms, helping me with my French skills, being patient when I had to think though a conjugation of a verb, give me recommendations, tell me how to "be French", and more. The stress of uprooting my life and going somewhere I didn't know anyone or know anything about was greatly diminished by the helpful citizens. They want to teach me about their culture and their language rather than exclude me from it, it makes the experience just that much better.

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move Abroad, Wine, France, Food

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

Oh yes, all the time. The amount of phrases or situations that don't exactly translate well into French get people confused and uncomfortable. The French language also has a lot of words that are pronounced similar but saying one vowel wrong can completely change everything. One time in the beginning of my stay I was in a hurry and was trying to say "Thank you very much" aka. Merci Beaucoup but in a frantic hurry I forgot to say merci and just said Beaucoup. However, I pronounced the ending a bit differently and ended up saying the translation of nice butt. Luckily it was a small grocery store that I visited numerous times weekly and became friendly with the owners who brushed it off and made jokes about it instead.

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

Honestly, eating and drinking. There's always something cool to do in regards to those two things. Whether there is a wine festival, a chocolate or cheese festival, or just sitting around and talking with friends over coffee or wine. Everyday you will walk to work and see people sharing a morning conversation over coffee or a wine at lunch and dinner. Much of the French culture is just sitting, relaxing, talking about your day while sipping on something and nibbling at some cheese. Just these little activities make me feel more immersed in the culture. I also just love trying new restaurants and bars and finding new places to experience. I look a lot for new places on Instagram or just looking online.  

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Gelato, France, Food, Wine

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

My number one rule whenever I visit somewhere new is to walk as much as you can. Sure taking the metro or a cab can be easier, but walking around gives you a true taste of the city and you can see things you wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. Especially if it is a short trip, walking lets you see as much as possible in a small period of time. Additionally, try and speak the language if you know some of it or just be respectful or their culture and language.

Similarly, try to go without a set plan. Montpellier thankfully doesn't have large attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, but it is still a beautiful city with amazing spots and architecture. Following a schedule or planning out your day to a tee could be a bit stressful. Montpellier is the perfect place to walk the alleys and cobble stone streets while looking around and stepping into any restaurant and bar.

What is the one MUST SEE? Place de la Comédie

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move Abroad, Wine, France, Food

What do you miss most about home?

My dogs and my family. I always tell them everything about France is perfect except the fact you aren't there. Luckily technology lets me talk and FaceTime with them, but i'm waiting for the day my dogs catch onto it so they don't think I abandoned them and don't care (lol)

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats, Move Abroad, Wine, France, Food

What's next?

I'm constantly asked this question. I'm also constantly asking myself. All I can say is             ¯\_(ツ)_/¯... I couldn't tell you if I wanted to. So many things to consider. I want to stay here but my family wants me home, who knows what job offers I would get next year, etc. I'll let you know when I know :)

To read more about Libby's adventures abroad, head to her blog Aiking for Adventure.

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Trading in Luxembourg for Madrid!

Helene New home: Madrid, Spain                       Home city & country: Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Helene

New home: Madrid, Spain                      

Home city & country: Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Why did you decide to move abroad?

I was born and grew up in Luxembourg. By the time I was 19 and had finished high school, I knew that I wanted to move abroad for university because Luxembourg was too small. It's a lovely country, very safe, clean, and rich, but there was nothing left for me to explore.
So I moved to Sheffield, the UK, to do my bachelor's degree. I'd never been to Sheffield before, so that was exciting! I had an amazing experience there. It's a great place to study in.

For my first master's, I moved to London in 2014. I absolutely loved living in London. The hustle and bustle of the city excites me! There's always something new to see or to do.
Then, in the summer of 2015, I lived in Lausanne, Switzerland for 2 months. I liked the surroundings there, the lake and mountains are picturesque. However, it reminded me too much of Luxembourg. I tend to shy away from people who are very well-off, because I usually don't fit in with them. That's kind of the feeling I got when I lived in Switzerland. But that's just me! I'm sure other people find it amazing to live there. It's just not my favourite place.


For my second master's degree, I moved to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. I'd been there on holiday many times, so no surprises there. The city itself is awesome, with loads to do, especially as a student. My favourite thing about Rotterdam was getting around on a bike! Nevertheless, I didn't want to stay there because of the weather. I'm a hot weather person, and the Netherlands definitely did not have a lot of hot weather! So I got a job in Madrid and moved to Spain. I had been studying Spanish for a year and thought it would be great to practice by moving there. Plus, I had heard rumours about the sunny weather!

First Month Abroad, Expat, Expats

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

I got here a week before I was due to start working, so I had some time to explore. I walked around Madrid, trying to construct a picture of it in my head. I was so lucky that it was really sunny in January when I arrived! In the evenings, I attended language exchange meet ups, where I practiced speaking Spanish with a local, and the local could practice their English with me. I met a few people who became good friends at these meet ups!

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

It's all about finding the right people to make the new place feel like home. I think it can be really lonely at times, when you're in an unfamiliar place without your friends, family, or anyone who you can talk to, at the beginning. That's why the first thing I try to do when I move to a new place is to meet as many new people as possible. If you're at university, it's easier, because meet ups are always organised for you, but as a working person, you have to be proactive about it. If meet ups aren't your thing, take up a hobby as soon as possible, so you can meet people you have something in common with!

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What are your favorite activities in your new town?

Madrid has so many fun things to do and to see! I would recommend Alcaravea restaurant (it's a bit fancy, but worth it). As for parks, nothing beats Retiro park. It's so beautiful and green! Thirdly, you should go and see the Royal Palace. If you don't like artsy things, you don't have to buy a ticket to go inside, but the outside and the Palace gardens (that you can see for free) are stunning!

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

You can see all the best spots in Madrid in a weekend! Go from Gran Vía to Sol, to Plaza Mayor, to the Mercado de San Miguel, to the Royal Palace. That's only one of the itineraries you can do in a day.

What is the one MUST SEE?

I would say that the one must see is Retiro Park. I spend a lot of time there, running, meeting friends, having picnics, sunbathing, going for walks. The possibilities are endless!

First Month Abroad, Exap

What do you miss most about home?

I miss my friends and family the most.

What's next?

I'm planning to stay in Spain for at least a few more years. I don't know where I'd move to after that though. I think that, ever since I moved to a hot weather country, it would be really difficult for me to move back to a cold weather country!!

To read more about Helene's life abroad, head over to The HC Lifestyle Blog.

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Country-hopping: Switzerland, Ireland, China and Australia!

Linda New home: Ireland/China/Australia                         Home city & country: Switzerland

Linda

New home: Ireland/China/Australia                        

Home city & country: Switzerland

Why did you decide to move abroad?

I moved to Ireland when I was 19 and just finished with business college (it's a bit a different schooling system in Switzerland). I come from a multi-cultural family and I always had an urge to venture. I could not wait to get out into the world!

Later I moved to China, as my friend opened a language school and I went to help out, which lead to me travelling. It was also a great timing, as Ireland was going through a rough time (massive recession).

After my contract was finished in China, I wanted to travel the long way around the world and go back to Switzerland. But instead, I met my partner in Melbourne Australia, and stayed there for 6 years.

But that is not the end of the story: We are moving together to the UK in February and are super excited about it!

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How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

In Ireland I started working and met a ton of expats in the international centre I was working at. So I spent the first month partying alot.

In China my students showed me the town, took me hiking and showed me traditional foods. Also I started to learn Mandarin.

In Australia I spent the first month with that hot guy I met - now my partner of almost 6 years...

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What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

I was surprised how easily I could fit in anywhere. Home is, wherever you are happy!

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Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

Plenty! Especially in China. For example when I had to dance like a Chicken in a supermarket and a congregation of supermarket workers formed a circle around me to see what that crazy white girl was up to until one understood that I was asking for chicken meat.

I also had several funny incidents trying to understand Australian slang when my boyfriend and I started dating. The morning after the first time he stayed over at mine he asked "Where are my thongs?" For a half Brit like me I thought he was asking where his G-string was and I was panicking and thought how drunk I was last night as I would not have noticed that..... for the Australian, he was wondering where his Flip-Flop was!

First Month Abroad, Australia, Melbourne

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

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Explore! Putting on my runners and walk every street, laneway and monument. I enjoy sitting in a cafe, restaurant or park and see the world around me pass by and getting a real feeling for the town.

My favourite finds were:

Dublin - every summer there is a free Shakespeare play at the St Stephen's Green. I loved rocking nights away at The Mezz Bar, Whelan's and The Button Factory. Almost forgot: Skerries! This seaside town in the north of Dublin has got the most relaxed feeling  and the best seafood chowder I have ever had!

China - I lived in Anshan and loved hiking in the Tian Shan mountains. But I also fell in Love with the lanes of Beijing!

Australia - I first arrived in Sydney and loved going up to the Observatory in the Rocks area for the view over Sydney. I live in Melbourne though, and enjoy picnics in the Royal Botanical Gardens, or going for a cocktail at the Lui Bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto building.

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What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

Dublin - Get out of Temple Bar! It is a tourist trap!

China - Don't be afraid of travelling by yourself, take the train, and for large monuments hire a private guide. They are cheap and really worth giving you a deeper insight into the history.

First Month Abroad, China

Melbourne - the major life takes place in the suburbs. Do not only stick to the Central Business District, it can get boring fast. Instead, go and explore places like South Yarra, St Kilda, Carlton, Fitzroy etc.

Also: Do NOT go onto the Eureka Sky Deck. You pay 20 entry fee, where you can get the same view at the Lui Bar, and all you need to do is to buy a beverage (Beers around $7-9 or a cocktail for about $20).

Also, did you know you can see penguins in St Kilda at the beach (after sunset they come in at the very end of the pier). Many drive 3 hours one way to Phillip Island to see them and pay and entry fee. The same little penguins can be seen for free only a 20 min tram ride from the CBD.
But the Great Ocean Road is definitely worth the trip! :-)

First Month Abroad, St Kilda Beach, Australia, Penguins

What is the one MUST SEE?

Ireland - Dublin is awesome, but the country is even better! Go on a road trip. Either to the west coast, or far north!

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China - Beijing! Beijing in itself is incredible! And  Chengdu, Leshan and Emeishan in the province of Sichuan!

What do you miss most about home?

One word: Family!

What's next?

I will be moving to the UK with my partner very soon. I can't wait! I feel a new adventure is overdue.

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G'day! Wales to Australia!

Rebecca New home: Melbourne, Australia                             Home city & country: Wrexham, Wales

Rebecca

New home: Melbourne, Australia                            

Home city & country: Wrexham, Wales

Why did you decide to move abroad?

I have always been fascinated by travel and spent every month in between studying at University backpacking around Europe. So when I finally finished study moving abroad was the one thing I wanted to do. I was finally free to live somewhere else and immerse myself in a different country. Backpacking and moving abroad is different. I wanted to see what it was like to live within a different environment, a different culture and be surrounded by new experiences that I couldn't get at home.

First Month Abroad, travel, expats, move abroad

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

I spent my first month abroad in Sydney, Australia. It was Christmas and New year so it was a big time in Sydney. I spent the month exploring all the sights, living in hostels, and celebrating the holidays with new friends. I had already been to a lot of hostels in Europe so making friends came naturally and I loved spending Christmas on Bondi beach. It was a whole new experience compared to back home.

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

At first I was surprised every day by the differences, things like food, language, way of living. Little things like slang words used, or the very relaxed way of living over in Australia. I also knew it would be amazing weather over here, but was very surprised that Melbourne also gets a very cold winter.

First Month Abroad, travel, expats, move abroad

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

It's funny to say that the language is different in Australia compared to the UK, but it kind of is. Australians have this amazing way of shortening everything, that even to this day makes me laugh. Afternoon is arvo, avocado is avo, a smoke break is smoko. You see what I mean. There has been countless moments of living here where I have had to stop and be like 'sorry what?' when an Australian has spoken to me.

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

Moving from Wales to Australia I of course had to move next to a beach. It may not be Bondi beach, but I live right by St Kilda beach. In the summer after work I walk down to the beach with a few beers and my book, have a swim and relax in the afternoon sun. I also love to take day trips, there is so much to see just outside the city, hikes, incredible beaches, hot springs. A personal favourite is the Great Ocean Road. Finally, if you love art, Melbourne is the place for you. There are countless art exhibitions every month, streets filled with street art, pop up exhibitions. If I have a rainy day off that is where you will find me, in particular The National Gallery of Victoria.

First Month Abroad, travel, expats, move abroad

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

The thing with Melbourne is there isn't the wow factor that Sydney has, there isn't the opera house, or the harbour bridge. The advice I would give about Melbourne is just enjoy it. If you can stay a while and live here, do. It hasn't been named the world's most liveable city for nothing. But if you only have chance for a fleeting visit, go and explore. Wander the street art covered lane ways in the city, indulge in an outstanding cup of Melbourne coffee, eat and have a few beers whilst relaxing by the beach. Melbourne has a lot to offer, there is always something going on. Look up what's on when you visit, the summer is filled with free festivals, live music, food markets. My main advice, keep it relaxed and see where Melbourne takes you.

What is the one MUST SEE?

A must see is a St Kilda sunset. In the summer especially head down to St Kilda pier to watch the famous fairy penguins make their way home. Make a picnic, grab a bottle of wine and get ready to experience one of the best sunsets you can see, in my opinion.

First Month Abroad, travel, expats, move abroad

What do you miss most about home?

Family, friends and food.

What's next?

Next I will be buying a car to live in and road tripping from Melbourne to South Australia, up to the West coast and then to the Northern territory.

Space of infinite possibilities

People think moving abroad is scary or impossible. Friends back home often say they couldn't do it or don't know how I do it. But the truth is the hardest part is booking that one way ticket. Once it's done it's done. That has always been my mentality. You should be nervous, excited, maybe a little scared, because that is the fun in it. Moving abroad is the best thing I have ever done. Now my two years in Australia are nearly up, and next I plan to move to New Zealand. I love living in a new country and urge everyone to try it, at least once. It's always amazing to me how I have moved to the other side of the world and have created a new little home for myself and I can't wait to create more little homes in many more countries.

To read more about Rebecca's life in Australia, check out her blog Bee Wanderlust.

First Month Abroad, travel, exapt

A New Life in Berlin

Cheryl New home: Berlin, Germany                               Home city & country: Toronto, Canada

Cheryl

New home: Berlin, Germany                              

Home city & country: Toronto, Canada

Why did you decide to move abroad?

I first came to Berlin on a bit of a lark in June 2011. I moved here alone, without a job, not knowing the language, and never having visited the city before.

I'd been happy with my life at home, but I wanted to try something new, and moving abroad to Europe seemed to be the answer.

I gave myself 6 months to find a place to live, get a job, and make friends, all of which I managed to do. I ended up staying in Berlin for 18 months before moving back home to Canada for two years.

During those two years, it became apparent that I missed Berlin. I began to plan my move back and even started German classes in Toronto. Finally, I found a job, and made my way back to Berlin in November 2014.

While the move back hasn't been as smooth as planned, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now.

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

My first month back in Berlin was spent settling into my new job, moving into my new apartment, and reuniting with all my old friends. It didn't take long to settle back into my Berlin life.

When I first moved to Berlin in 2011, I used a few different techniques to meet new people - by taking a German language class, going to a local bar alone, and connecting with other Berliners on social media. Since moving back, I even started my own meetup group with my buddy Adam, Make Friends in Berlin, to help newbies connect with one another. The group now has more than 5,000 members!

Berlin in July is Christopher Street Day (CSD) when Berliners come together to celebrate Pride.

Berlin in July is Christopher Street Day (CSD) when Berliners come together to celebrate Pride.

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

To be honest, after 4+ years in Germany, I'm not really surprised by anything anymore. :)

I do think aspiring expats who plan a move to Germany should brush up on the language well before they get here. They should also become familiar with the various things they'll need to do once they arrive, like registering their address with the Burgeramt, getting a sim card, opening a bank account etc.

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

The first time I went naked at the German spa was a shocking moment for me! As a Canadian who grew up in a strict Christian household, it felt odd to be naked in public. While I felt terrified, the Germans at the spa didn't even blink an eye when I disrobed. I love how the health and wellness culture is second nature for them. Read about my first German spa experience here.  

Bearpit Karaoke that takes place in the amphitheatre in Mauerpark on Sundays at 3:00 p.m

Bearpit Karaoke that takes place in the amphitheatre in Mauerpark on Sundays at 3:00 p.m

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

You can see a list of my favourite things to do in Berlin right here

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

If you're visiting Berlin for the first time, be sure to hit up all the usual tourist attractions be it the historic landmarks like Brandenburger Tor, Berliner Dom, Berlin Wall or  or museums like the Pergamon.

Buy a Berlin Welcome Card to get access to many points of interest around the city. The price also includes unlimited use of public transport.

What is the one MUST SEE?

Visit the German parliament, to see democracy in action. Visit at sunset for an extraordinary view over Berlin.

What do you miss most about home?

Of course, I miss family and friends, but most of all I miss the food and drink from home. This includes silly things like Tim Horton's coffee, Swiss Chalet, and peameal bacon.

What's next?

I'm getting permanent residency in early 2017, so I'll be sticking around Berlin for now. My profession is in demand here and I want to use this time to further develop myself and progress in a new direction.

As Berlin is in central Europe, I'll continue using the city as a base for travels. Next up is Greece, Romania, and Japan.

To get more great tips about Berlin, head over to Cheryl's blog.

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Writing Books in Berlin!

Jessica New home: Berlin, Germany                               Home city & country: Washington, D.C., USA

Jessica

New home: Berlin, Germany                              

Home city & country: Washington, D.C., USA

Why did you decide to move abroad?

I'm a military brat, so I grew up moving around a lot. I liked the idea of moving somewhere new on my own. I couldn't move abroad in college because I was an athlete and had to be on campus year-round. I couldn't move around early in my career because I was an attorney and only licensed to practice in one state. Even after I left law, my career wasn't international.

I quit my job in November 2016 to travel and launch my own business, in that order. While I was traveling, I realized that the time was right to take the jump and move abroad. I didn't have any furniture or lease or book club or boyfriend back home; I had set aside money for my business that I could draft off of; and I was an adult with salable professional skills, so I could find a way to make money.

At first I thought I'd move to Paris because my French is decent. Then I visited in Berlin. I fell in love with the weirdness of the city, the low cost of living, and the number of tall people wearing black. I found my people.

First Month Abroad, expat, expats, travel blog

How did you spend your First Month Abroad?

I spent my first month getting my new life in order, but I won't bore you with the details of opening a German bank account. When it came to making friends, Girl Gone International, which has Facebook groups in many cities around the world, was invaluable. I also found a local supper club called Polish Thursday Dinners and started going to those alone, making friends with other diners once I got there. I signed up for a German class and met a few people that way too. The key was to join communities that met regularly, so I could build friendships based on multiple interactions without having to ask for people's contact information.

What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?

It's not hard.

I mean, living abroad has its challenges. But if the story you tell yourself is, "Oh my god, this is going to be so hard! I'll have no friends and I'll never find a job," then that's exactly what will happen. I made it a point to adjust my internal monologue whenever I started getting weepy. I would tell myself: I can do this. I will make friends. I will make money. I will grow.

And I have.

Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?

Tons. Let's just say I had no idea how uncomfortable I was being naked until I had so many opportunities to be naked in Berlin. I'm not sure this is the place to talk about sex clubs, but if readers are curious, I wrote about my sex club experience in my book, Let's Take Berlin

What are your favorite activities in your new town?

Clubbing! Check out Resident Advisor for party listings. I still go to Polish Thursday Dinners and have become friends with the founder, who is badass. And I also love exploring Berlin's cocktail scene. Panama is my new favorite.

What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?

Download Rick Steves' Berlin City Walk. He'll take you through all the must-see sites. On your own, visit the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial. Go to Prater Beer Garden, Dr. Pong, and K'Ups Gemusekebab--they're all within two blocks of each other. Check out Resident Advisor to plan the rest of your party route. Alternate beers with Club Mate when you go out. Don't get drunk. Do stay out until the sun rises.

What is the one MUST SEE?

You have to go clubbing in Berlin. It's unlike any other party experience in the world. It's hyper-permissive yet chill. It doesn't matter if you like house music. You will when you're here.

What do you miss most about home?

I miss being able to put my brain on autopilot. In D.C., I've memorized the metro map, I can recommend a good restaurant in any neighborhood, and I know exactly which friends to call for a wild night out or a quiet night in. In Berlin, everything takes a bit more thought. I have to plot out in advance how to get from Point A to B; I'm still learning where drug stores are, let alone restaurants; and I'm developing great friendships, but slowly.

Also, I miss chocolate chips, air conditioning, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and giant glasses of ice water.

What's next?

I'll definitely stay in Berlin for the duration of my visa (one year). I'll renew my visa in the spring of 2018 because I'd like the option to stay longer. Whether I'll stay or go is anyone's guess. Six months ago I didn't know I'd move to Berlin, so I can't pretend to know where I'll want to be six months from now.

To read more about Jessica's Berlin life, check out her blog.

First Month Abroad, Moving abroad, 

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