Encouraging Words and Advice When Moving Abroad

Hey guys,

As some of you may already know, my boyfriend moved from England to Sweden a few months ago. And as many of you may know, moving away from what you know throws you into an unparalleled journey that will teach you more about life, love, and fear than any education or book ever could, but before that come the feelings of loneliness, doubt, and homesickness that undoubtedly leave you trying to remember what brought you there in the first place.

So in light of this I reached out to people all over the world who have experienced this and asked them to share their story in hopes that it will put a smile on his face. 🙂 If you fall into this category and are reading this, my hope is that it will put a smile on your face too, and help you remember why you decided to set out on this journey to begin with! 🙂

“It does get easier. During the first couple of months everything is new and exciting and after that comes a period when you feel totally lost and alone. When we moved to France we didn’t know the language and didn’t know a single person in the village where we live. The best decision we’ve ever made was to take French classes. There we meet others with the same “problems” that we can share our experiences with – both good and bad. Now, after just about a year in our new country, we have become somewhat used to all the new things, we’re beginning to understand what people say and we have built a nice and calm every day life for ourselves. We run our own business from home and are starting to make french friends.”
– Pernilla

“My husband moved to Sweden 20 years ago. He was younger than me and he had never lived outside Miami where he grew up. It was of course very exciting at first, because he came early summer, but until he got a job in December it was hard for him. But then he got a job and that changed everything. We moved to the states after 5 years but that was because I wanted to try America. He still talks about our years in Sweden with affection and he loved so many of the things there and he and I both miss the traditions and how organized everything is. The only negative was the weather. For your boyfriend it may end up being a little bit easier since his family is not so far away and flying in Sweden is cheap compared to flying from here. Speak to him in Swedish and make him learn the language, because it will make things so much easier. I don’t know where you live, but in Stockholm there are plenty of English people to connect with if he misses that. I have lived in many countries and once you understand that to be happy somewhere depends on you (and not anything outside yourself) you can be happy anywhere. It is a choice! And an opportunity.”
– Wenche

“One has to give it 12 months I’ve learned from culture shock experts, and I know some who just wanted to go back so badly after a few months, which of course took some months to arrange as well. By the time it was time to go they didn’t want to leave and had changed their minds because now they loved it! If he loves you he needs to give it a year. At least. And resist the urge to jump back to UK ever so often to see friends and go to the usual pub etc, which of course is so easily done from Sweden.”
– Pia

“I moved to Switzerland in 1986. I wanted to stay for a year but I am still here. The first months were not easy but I didn’t give up.”
– Anders

“What’s something he really enjoys? Plan a little outing for the two of you. He’s probably struggling to figure out how to take care of his own needs, so if you help him, it might give him the boost he needs to stick it out for a bit. It also might help him see how he can still be himself and enjoy life in Sweden. And, when all else fails, plan a trip — could be back to England, could be to a sunny locale (because it’s dark and pouring with rain here in England right now). Above all, good luck!”
– Erin

“Leaving your country is the most exhilarating and life changing thing you can do. Fear is part of the growth that you experience when you do this, and no place is farther away than a plane ticket when you feel homesick. Do it now, while you are young. Give it a chance, face the fears and overcome them and you will feel yourself grow in the process. I left Sweden at the tender age of 18, completely fearless and clueless, and have somehow made it through 30 years abroad. Listen to what Pia says further up (yes, she is a friend of mine, but a very wise one) and remember nothing is a life sentence! Best of luck to you both!”
– Lena

“It is emotionally exhausting to move from what you know to something that is yours to create. Enjoy the journey, it is worth it!”
– Suzanne

“I have lived in Finland for 40 years. I did move back to Ireland after a number of years thinking it was better back home in every way. Only to realise that I was actually happier living in Finland. I feel happier and more free to do what I want over here, without being judged. It is a very much more relaxed lifestyle.”

“My Greek-Swedish daughter took her Greek boyfriend to live in Sweden. Blood, sweat and tears! Now after 4 years he says that it is the best decision he has made in his life. He didn’t know one word of Swedish, but now he speaks fluently and got a permanent job! As my daughter use to say, if the love is strong enough! I say the same after 30 years in Greece!”
– Lene-Marie

“I wish you both the best of luck and wish you no fear, just do it!”
– Lina

“They say a dip comes just before 6 months and if you pass a year it gets better, then you are over the “worst” part. I have lived in three different countries outside of Sweden and think it is about what I experienced. Good luck and don’t give up!”
– Sara

“I’ve lived in the US for almost 25 years now. When I first came I was in a “in love phase”; I loved everything about it and I was happy just walking up and down the streets of New York City. I never wanted to go home.  Then I met my husband and we decided to live here, and then reality set in and I realized that I had actually emigrated. It is a much bigger deal than you think and it takes a while to get used to the idea. At first I tried to suppress everything Swedish because I got too homesick thinking about it. But it doesn’t work too well in the long run. My advice is to embrace it. Celebrate English holidays, make English bread, watch English TV. You are lucky to live close to England, take advantage of it and go home and visit even if it is just for a long weekend.
You are also lucky to have moved in a time when the internet makes everything closer. You can listen to English podcasts, Skype, e-mail, Facebook, etc. Take advantage of all of this. You CAN have your cake and eat it too. That is kind of the trick to cure homesickness. You don’t have to choose. Just make both countries work. Moving to another country was the best decision of my life. I have grown tremendously and I wouldn’t replace it for anything.”
– Helen

“My husband is English and moved to Sweden 16 years ago with me (we had lived together in London for several years). It was his idea to try Sweden and it has obviously worked. He hasn’t really had any periods of doubt or regrets because he is the sort of person, I think, who rarely looks back. I, on the other hand, experienced exactly the same as your boyfriend when I moved to England. First a month or so of joy and then quite a long period of homesickness. After about two years I was completely settled and rarely felt homesick. After six years my then boyfriend dropped the bomb that he wanted to move to Sweden and I was like “No!” but then I thought about it and told myself that this opportunity will probably never come again, so I decided to agree. We moved in 2000 and now 16 years later and two children we rarely look back. We both love UK and if there is one of us who could move back it would be me! But the quality of housing, schools, childcare etc we get here outweigh everything. Give it at least 1-2 years and if he still feels unhappy you probably have to reconsider. Good luck!”
– Sophie

“I was thinking of one thing he could do to get new friends and get into the Swedish culture. How about school – school is free and there is komvux or university. Most people speak English at university level and often the books are in English as well and most of all, people love to connect with others at schools. It’s so much easier to enjoy your new country if you make new friends. And not just friends native to the country, but foreigners or even English people in Sweden whom you can talk to, exchange experiences with, relate to, whine to (if it’s just one of those days), or receive advice and tips from (like where can you find Stockholm’s best Fish n Chips)… Otherwise there are tons of other stuff to do, depending of what interests he has. We have all been there and sometimes you just want to go back to your home country, but then things get better and you don’t. Tell him to not leave before spring and definitely not before midsummer, because it’s all worth the wait; he’ll then see what Sweden is all about. Maybe while it’s still winter you could take a weekend off and go skiing in the mountains, or learn how to ice skate on the lakes. Sweden is a lot about being outdoors you know. Show him the library where he can borrow books, magazines, games or even CDs with Swedish-lessons for free. I do feel homesick at times (most of all at midsummer) but I have never regretted moving abroad. Good luck and cheer up! :)”
– Christina

“It gets lovely if you LET IT. It stays a struggle if you FIGHT IT… Trust your gut and your loved one’s… You only live once, so live now.”
– Marie-Louise

I did move to New Zealand for love and five years later I am still waiting for my kiwi to consider us to live in Sweden. I love NZ and especially the climate, but there is so much more in Sweden that is way more better than in NZ. In the future I hope to live in both countries and make the most of it. Give it ago and see. It enrich your life.”
– Åsa

“Focus on the things you like about your new country (in this case Sweden) and what you don’t like about your old country (in this case England). Try to find an English friend that you can talk to about strange Swedish customs and behaviors, and watch ‘Welcome to Sweden’ and laugh about it.”
– Patrick

“The only thing harder than moving is returning home! He will be feeling helpless and lonely… Learning a new language… And the darkness of the winter days is something that should not be ignored. From my experience it takes 6 months to not hate a new place, a year to feel as though a new life might be possible, and two years to make it a home. Spring is coming… Try to encourage him to step out of the house and even meet new people, and above all, be patient! Are there any other interests he might have? Good luck! Trailing a heavy-hearted partner is hard too, so take care of yourself.”
– Katherine

“A couple of years abroad, in Sweden. What an experience! How many Englishmen can say that they have actually lived in Sweden? He has to spend approximately two years to be able to say he has really lived in Sweden and got to know the Swedes. And that way he really gets to know the UK, watching from the outside, so to say. If he goes back earlier, he will regret it, don’t you think? I have lived in Greece, Italy and now in Germany for 28 years. My life is so much richer than it would have been without this experience. And ask him to learn Swedish. You can’t get a grip on a culture without learning the language! And that way he will understand you better…”
– Ninnan

“We have had a vote, we don’t want him back! All jokes aside, there’s nothing in England, it’s hard to find a good job here and they want to pay minimum wages, the government is cutting back on everything. It’s a rat race, plus you cook bacon for breakfast, Chin Up”
– Norman

“Hey dude, you’re with Bethany, and she is a dreamsicle and Sweden is like one of the best countries right now. I would almost trade places with you but Beth and I aren’t trying to be in love and all that awesomeness. LOL”
– Gaby (I HAD to put that in here, because hahaha)

“Love conquers everything!!!”
– Marie


I love you ❤


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