The dilemma of living abroad

I remember when I was 19, I left my parent’s home for a gap year as soon as I finished high school. The stereotype work and travel adventure in Australia, with a few months backpacking in South East Asia (or in my case suitcasing since I can’t carry a backpack). When I came back from that trip, I decided that I will move abroad.

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My home town and home country will always be there and for me personally, I felt like the world has so much to offer. So many places to discover, so many people to meet, so many things to see and learn. I moved to Denmark to pursue my studies and here we are, 4 years later. I am living in wonderful Copenhagen and now I am traveling again for the next half year because I was lucky to get accepted for a semester abroad in Taipei.

My travel life seems so full of joy, fun, and happiness. On Instagram or Facebook, the pictures could make people get a bit envious and say thing like “I wish I could leave everything and go as well”.

This summer I was lucky to spent 1 month in Beijing studying Chinese and in a few days I will head to Taipei for my semester abroad

But there is another side. Most expats and international students who left their home country for a long time might possibly agree. Going away for a trip or semester is different because in a way you know that you will come back to your long-lasting friendships that you have for years, to your family; your parents, your siblings and maybe to your partner as well. You will go on an adventure and come back – that’s what a short trip is. You enjoy the perks of being abroad but you know: there is an end, there will be a time where you return to your old life and be with your loved ones again.

However, when you fully emigrate and live in another country, it comes with a heartbreak. Of course, your international life is all exciting!  It is full of new discoveries, friends, different food, habits, life – and all anecdotes that you can tell the friends and family back home! The independence and also pride of building up your own life in a foreign place are great and fulfilling feelings.

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Still, for me, there is always a little part that I try to ignore but every now and then, it pops up. The guilty little voice, that tells you that you left your family, best friend and beloved ones to go after your own dreams. In no way am I saying, it is wrong to move to a new place for your goals, education, an interesting job, a boyfriend/girlfriend or something else. My reasonable side knows this as well. It’s just split.

Every time I have to say goodbye to my parents, my brother – and especially to my little 3-year old sister- before I head back to Copenhagen, my heart breaks. It really simply breaks. My sister knows that I am living somewhere else but she does not understand why I have to leave after just a few days at home with her. One time she even bribed me with her toys so I would stay longer. How can I not feel guilty in those moments for living in a foreign country? How can I not feel a sting in my heart when I look at her tiny little face, having to tell her that I will see her in maybe half a year?

living abroad
My sister and me in Malmö, this was a few days before I headed to Asia

I know that my family and my closest friends understand and support me in everything I do and none of them would blame me the slightest for going away.  Germany and Denmark are not THAT far away after all. Only a few hours flight and I will be home, just a thousand kilometers between us. People move from one continent to another and truly can’t see their families for years.

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As for me right now, I am in Asia but just for one semester. It is not permanent and after January, I will be back in Denmark. Then my family will be just in the neighbouring country, in the same time zone and in emergency cases, I can take a plane and go home within one day.

living abroad
Facebook reminded me a few weeks ago of a memory 5 years ago which made me think about my life now and this dilemma. This picture shows the day I finally received my German passport even though I was born and raised in Germany, it was a yearlong bureaucratic fight to get there

Still, every now and then, I catch myself thinking about how egoistic I am for breaking the hearts of people close to me. And this feeling doesn’t go away, not with time, not with lesser distance. In a way you can say, is this the price you pay. And some days, you don’t think about it. Other days like tonight, I feel so far from everyone I love, going my own way and having their support, yet feeling guilty for making my mom and dad, my siblings and my best friend miss me (and I miss them too).

Do I regret moving abroad? Not in the slightest.

living abroad, Kuala Lumpur, Petronas Twin Towers
I spent the last two months in Asia, discovering many cities and places, learning Chinese in Beijing and in a few days I will start my semester in Taipei. I am very excited to see what awaits me the next months

The past 5 years since I left my home country have made me grown so much and got me closer to the person I want to be. I don’t know yet, where I will be and what I will do in the future, what master study or career I will pursue – but I am sure that if I continue to live my life to the fullest, take the chances that come along the way and jump into new waters, I will find that out. And with the love and support from my beloved family and friends, I can go wherever.. even if some nights, I stay awake and feel guilty because I miss them and they miss me.


Thank you so much for reading this article. If you want, please feel free to share your thoughts or own experiences in the comments below, on Facebook or in a private message. I am looking forward to hear your stories 🙂
Until next time, Tuni

You can read an older article of mine about  What I like about China and What to expect when moving to Copenhagen <3




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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I’ve been doubtful about the decision of moving abroad on the summer. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what, but this post made me excited for all the things I might find over there. Thank you very much! Excellent post!

    1. Hej Darryl 🙂 Thank you for your comment! I hope you have great experiences abroad! Tuni

  2. Being an expat has its challenges, this one is definitely up there! Great post!

    1. Thank you so much Aaron, it sure has its challenges but it has so many good sides as well 🙂 You win some, you lose some. Thank you for the comment, Tuni

  3. Beautiful post! Nothing gives you greater perspective of who you are and who you want to be than living abroad. Experiencing other ways of lives really opens you up.

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