Throughout my adventure as an emigrant that began in 2009, I have met many people with inspiring stories along the way. For this post I have spoken to ten of my friends who ventured to emigrate without having a job, without speaking the language well and about how they managed to build a professional career.
When I asked them why they decided to emigrate they main reasons were to learn or improve another language, exposing themselves to another culture, leaving their comfort zone, challenging oneself and to live a new adventure.
Some of them found work related to their studies or previous experience within the first six months, either temporary or scholarship, however most them worked as shop assistants, waiters or in supermarkets.
• What were the biggest difficulties they encountered?
Practically the same reasons that encouraged them to leave became the biggest obstacles: the language, adapting to a new culture and customs and loneliness are common denominators to which some of them add: missing family and friends and meteorological factors for those who went to colder countries.
• It wasn’t an easy journey, especially in the beginning. Some of them even considered returning home at some point; what encouraged them to persevere?
María (Operations Specialist Zara, London): “The first months are always hard, especially if you travel alone as was my case. But you never have to give up and even if one day is bad, you must fight until you achieve your goals. I was very lucky a lot of luck with the friends I made at the beginning, which nowadays are still by my side.”
Laura (Creative Studio Manager in the fashion sector): “I felt that I could not give up and that everything I had left behind (friends, family, a job that I loved, quality of life, etc.) had to be worth it”.
Isabel (Nursery Assistant): “wanting to start a family in a country where there is work-life balance, a decent maternity leave, flexibility at work, the education in nurseries and schools and how easy life is here”.
Paco (Architect, London): “never lose sight of the dream and every day make a reason for celebration any small step that brings you closer to it “.
• What has been the best of the experience?
Macu (London): “the friends you make along the way, they become your “family”.
María (Admissions Director of the Executive MBA at INCAE, Costa Rica): “Everything has been positive, once I overcame the cultural adaptation. Overcoming my own insecurities and leave the comfort zone, meet new friends with the same desire to living life, expand my vision of the world and grow professionally. “
Isabel (Nursery assistant): “It has given me many positive things, especially learning the language and getting to know the culture, realizing that there are many ways of doing things and that work-life balance is possible. “
Elena (Specialist in Quality Systems, Costa Rica): “For me living abroad has opened my mind. It has exposed me to new cultures, ways of living and languages. I have met people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds. I am always learning new things and meeting new people which is a wonderful way to enrich my life.”
Jose (Professional in Processes and Purchasing Management, London): “Modesty is the greatest value that is earned when you emigrate. Equally important is acquiring the real value of diversity in all its forms, being tolerant and cooperating towards the same end. In the end you make family with your friends, they become friends for life”.
Rosa (Human Resources Professional, London): “I am who I am today thanks to the experience of living abroad. Specially on a personal level; I became more independent, strong, empowered, with an open mind, easy to adapt …also having worked and lived with diverse people has enriched me from a cultural point of view.”
Maria (Operations Specialist Zara, London): “From a work perspective, there are more opportunities and different ways of working ways that have enriched me, however the biggest learning is what it gives you at a personal level which cannot be compared to any other experience. It makes you a stronger and more decisive person, more courageous and versatile, it increases your desire to learn new things and seek new goals, but above all, it helps to enjoy every moment in a more intense way with people from all over the world. “
Paco (Architect, London): “Overcoming difficult situations, mainly due to the language; learning a different way to develop architectural projects; meeting people from other countries and backgrounds that I probably would have never met in Madrid; travel more, thanks to the greater offer of flights offered in a city like London. “
• What would you recommend to someone who is thinking of leaving, but has doubts?
Paco (Architect, London): “Write on a piece of paper what is the reason why you want to leave, then pack your suitcase and leave. If at any time you have doubts have a look at that paper again to remind yourself. In my case I have no doubt that living abroad and outside my comfort zone has made me better in every way. Do not hesitate! And if things did not go as you had planned … you will always have Ryanair to return. Good Luck!”
Macu (London): “Research firts where you want to go and that if you decide to leave, do so with an open and positive mindset. With effort and sacrifice, things will wrk out and the experience will surely fulfilling in one way or another.”María (Admissions Director of the Executive MBA at INCAE, Costa Rica): “It may be different for each person but I think all trips and change processes in general have more benefits and learnings than negative points. If someone is thinking of leaving, even if they are not 100% convinced, they already have that wish to discover another part of the world. My suggestion is that they follow that they go for it; what is the worst that can happen? Money can be recovered. We all have two hands and a head to generate income and be able to support ourselves. Leaving your comfort zone? For those who change their country, comfort is not a decisive factor. Friends? Good friends are not lost if you know how to take care of them. Career? It depends; you may you prefer a linear career or instead you may not mind leaving the steady career for a bit to try different ways of living. “
Isabel (Nursery assistant): “After 7 years out of Spain, I would tell them to try because the experience opens your mind and brings many positive things. But honestly, there is no place like home!”
Laura (Creative Studio Manager in the fashion sector): “Take the step and leave. The only possible regret is not doing it.”
Elena (Quality Systems Specialist, Costa Rica): “Think about the reasons why you want to leave. Be patient in the decision and consider what you will leave behind. When you go to another place, you have to adapt and change, you have to be open-minded and accept that things may not be as you expect. There are many people who move abroad and complain as they do not stop comparing with what they are used to, with that mindset maybe is better to stay at home.”
Jose (Professional in Processes and Purchasing Management, London): “I would encourage them to do it without hesiattion! Life is really lived when filled with experiences and living in another country is one of the best ways to expand the mind and grow as a human being.”
Rosa (Human Resources Professional, London): “Do not live wondering “what if” … jut pack your bags and take an the adventure! Things not going as expected is always a option but if it goes well, it will have been worth it.”
María (Operations Specialist Zara, London): “There is always time to pack and return, but you do not always have time to pack your bags and leave.”
Karolina (International HR Manager in Retail): “You will never know how you can change your life if you do not risk it”.
I hope these testimonies inspire others to live this great experience. If you are going through a moment of change, as a coach I can support you in the process. During the sessions you will unravel those knots that prevent you from moving forward. Do not hesitate to contact me to arrange a free trial session – contact info here.