I was seventeen when I moved abroad for the first time, to London for a short period, all by myself. Since then I’ve lived in and traveled to several other countries, sometimes where I knew people, sometimes not. I would like to tell you guys my story, share why I highly recommend traveling / moving abroad on your own and in which ways it changed me as a person.
Very first time
My first time abroad for work wasn’t really a big deal or scary for me, because I already knew London pretty well and the city isn’t very different than Amsterdam (and there is no language barrier, which helps a lot!). Although I was quite nervous about the place I was staying – with a guest family… It felt kind of weird and awkward for me to be honest. I felt like I was interrupting their life and that the children (who were around the same age as me) didn’t wanted me to be there. I wasn’t feeling comfortable with eating in the dining room at the same time as them and was afraid to wake them up if I came home late. This resulted in mostly eating and spending my free-time in my bedroom which made me feel kind of lonely.
The second time when I went back to London I stayed there again, just because it was easy during fashion week because I knew the neighborhood and such things. I felt more comfortable during my stay this time, also because I got used to living there and I worked a lot. After those two weeks I never stayed there again and always stayed in the same beautiful model apartment from my agency.
Although my experience with staying with a guest family wasn’t the best.. When I look back at it, I feel like it is a really good decision from my agency to place young models with guest families instead of a model apartment. Not only because it’s more safe, but also because you have someone that keeps an eye on you and whom you can talk to if there is any need to. London still has a special place in my heart and every time I go there it feels a bit like I’m coming home.
First shoot in London by photographer Grant Thomas, I was really insecure and had no idea what I was doing.
Of course it’s easier to make friends who share your language and habits, but try to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone! After almost three years of traveling by myself I can say I am really good in building friendships. I was so scared at first to meet people that I had only spoken to on Instagram or to ask someone to hang out with me that I didn’t know. But once you’ve done it and you had good experiences (which I’m sure you will have), you can be very proud of yourself! It feels great to have friends from all over the world. I experienced that during my time abroad I became friends with amazing human beings whom I normally at home would never even talk to.
Making friends in a new country is harder for some people than it is for others, especially when foreign languages or cultural differences are involved. But the only way you’re going to get better at a foreign language or learn a culture’s customs is to surround yourself with it. My American and English friends are one of the main reason why my English has improved this much, because of them I still extend my vocabulary every single day.
Try not only to invest in relationship with others, but also in the relationship with yourself. Give yourself a mission, keep a diary or journal, try something you’ve never done before and get lost in the city you are in. Say yes more often and accept the opportunity to try new activities and explore adventures.
When you move abroad solo, you only have yourself. You have to figure things out on your own and set up your new life alone, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. Luckily there are plenty of ways to make friends when you are abroad, but you have make the effort yourself. Moving alone can be scary at first, especially if you’re more of an introverted person, but once you realise you can do it your self-confidence will definitely grow. When you only have yourself to rely on, you’ll realise how strong you are.
“Allow yourself to be proud of yourself and the progress you have made. Especially the progress that no one else has seen.”
Moving abroad has allowed me to lead a life of adventure, find confidence, made me a stronger person. It allows you to gain a different perspective on life. Basing yourself somewhere for an extended period of time will really allow you to understand life from a different point of view. It will give you an opportunity to grow in ways you didn’t even know that you needed to. Be the best version of yourself!
It’s the best opportunity to learn or extend your knowledge of a different language. No better way to learn, than to surround yourself with people who speak the language fluently and you HAVE to be able to speak it as well.
My most important advice: trust your instinct with traveling by yourself it all comes down at trusting your instincts.
The beauty of solo traveling: you get to know yourself very well. You will learn exactly what you want and don’t want. I learned that I’m an extrovert. I learned to just trust my intuition. You don’t have to keep anyone elses wishes in mind. What’s better than that?
You might be afraid of traveling on your own, but push through it and it might be the best decision ever made! If you really want to move abroad, you will find a way to do it. Trust me, the exhaustion and extra hard work will be 100 percent worth it in the end.
P.s. Planning a trip ? Make sure to also check my packing tips blog.