preparing to move abroad

Oberstdorf, Germany September 2018. Visited for the Almabtrieb Festival!

Oberstdorf, Germany September 2018. Visited for the Almabtrieb Festival!

I guess the traditional story of a girl who moved abroad starts with planning, saving, researching, and then executing the plan. While this is the rough idea of how I personally moved abroad, the reality was much more chaotic, to say the least.

So here is my story of how I prepared for moving abroad.

my story

A year and a half ago (in 2017), I had freshly graduated from college (Bear Down!). I had always known that I wanted to move out of Arizona. When I got the call that I landed a job in San Diego, my bags were packed and I was on the road within a week.

I moved to San Diego for a brand new job, with no place to live, and knew very few people in the city. Despite the lack of certainty at that point, I knew that this adventure was meant for me, and I knew deep down that somehow I would make things work.

It was mighty difficult to say the least! I lived in a hostel for a month while waking up at 4:00am to start cold-calling for 8 hours a day. Eventually, I found an apartment, made amazing friends, and eventually got a new job that I didn’t hate so much!

This move to San Diego, unbeknownst to me, was the first step in my moving abroad process. I learned how to think on my feet, make sacrifices, adapt to frequent change, and most of all, trust my gut and trust that the Universe had my back.

It was also living there that gave me wanderlust like you wouldn’t believe. I wanted so badly to travel and see the world, but with a pretty low-paying job and $900 rent each month, traveling wasn't really an option. I knew that I had to choose. Did I want my San Diego lifestyle, or did I want to be able to travel? I love San Diego like a second home, but after about a month of deliberation, well, I think we all know which route I ended up choosing.

First San Diego Padres game! May 2017. Living our best lives!

First San Diego Padres game! May 2017. Living our best lives!

When I first went abroad, I didn’t plan on “moving” in a permanent sense. I wanted to do a stint as an Au Pair for about a year, and then see later on what I wanted to do afterwards. It was shortly after beginning my Au Pair stay that I decided I definitely wanted to live abroad for longer. Specifically, in Germany.

As the Universe would have it, the second I decided “Yep! I want to stay here,” NOPE. Things with my host family went downhill very quickly, and within a month of deciding that I was destined to live in Germany, I was no longer living with my host family, and I was in a frantic search of a new visa, AKA a new way to be able to stay. I did so much research, and made many trips to the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) to see what I could do. Let me say, a month is not enough time to get your ducks in a row, at least it wasn’t for me.

I ended up running out of time, and having to buy a last minute flight back to the US before my Visa in Germany expired. Talk about “Not Going As Planned”. Looking back, it ended up being alright. It lit a huge fire under my butt to continue researching, save up some money, pay off some debt, and get a plan of action.

Treated my post-first-time-trying-to-move-to-germany trauma with lots of home cooked meals and 1000-piece puzzles.

Treated my post-first-time-trying-to-move-to-germany trauma with lots of home cooked meals and 1000-piece puzzles.

Researching a move abroad is tricky business. If you are considering moving to Germany, you probably know that there is very little information given by government authorities online. My most valuable resources were simply people who had moved to Germany before on the same Visa I was hoping to get. Even this is still slightly tricky, because each Rathaus (Town Hall) can be different and have different requirements/procedures. But still, it was the best way to obtain current, and (at least somewhat) accurate information! I essentially did this by being an ultimate creeper on Instagram and messaging many random people asking for advice, googling for expat-in-Germany related blogs, etc.

I explored many (many, many) different options for moving abroad, and I like to think that I am now a moderate expert on the subject. If you want to move abroad and can’t think of how, message me I’m sure I’ve found something you could do!

By the time late May rolled around, I had saved up about $3,500 and thought I knew exactly what I was going to do once I got to Germany. Maybe one day I’ll learn that my plans are irrelevant (in the best way) in comparison to what the Universe has planned for me. Because, I did not execute my original plan AT ALL.

Summer 2019, Back in Germany! Happy Anna!

Summer 2019, Back in Germany! Happy Anna!

Anyways, the adventure is never really over, as I will have to either renew my visa or get a new one again in a few months (I’m currently just on a Language-Learning Visa). The moral of this story, is that if you’re preparing to move abroad, my best piece of advice is to be flexible. Stack up as much money as humanly possible in your savings account, and be flexible. It’s not a straight path, there’s many twists, turns, and you will likely end up doing some pretty unconventional things (like moving in with your boyfriend after dating for 1 month. Thanks, Michael!!). Its all worth it!

quick tips:

  1. First, try moving to another place that isn’t so far. For example, another state, out of your hometown, etc. This will help you to learn on a smaller scale what it takes to make the bigger leap into another country.

  2. Do your research, but don’t expect to learn everything online. Many things you will only find out in person by going to the country’s embassy in your country, or if you can, by going to the country itself.

  3. Related to number 2, check far in advance whether or not you need a visa before you arrive to the other country. Some places, like Germany, allow Americans to apply for most visas from within Germany. This is not the case for every country!

  4. Save, save, and save some more! I can’t stress this enough. I can’t give you an exact amount that you will need, because it depends on many different factors! In your research, you should be able to find a rough estimate depending on where you’re looking to move and for how long.

  5. Be flexible and remain patient. Moving to another country for any length of time will test you in ways that you never thought existed. BUT if it was easy and like dancing through a field of tulips, everyone would do it.

The process of moving is part of the adventure itself. Good or bad, you will have stories to tell! I believe that it doesn’t usually come easy because the Universe wants to make sure you’re serious about it! Things will get messed up, plans will change, but if you remain flexible, you’ll eventually find your way.

If you’re in the process of moving abroad, (beginning, middle, or you’ve already done it), feel free to reach out or leave a comment telling us about your experience! Community will be one of your most important assets! :)