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Top 10 things that start to happen once you’ve lived overseas for a while

Maybe you’re thinking about going to college overseas, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to get a global job transfer.

Either way, don’t be surprised when you start noticing one or more of the following things that can happen once you’ve lived overseas for a while.

Dublin city centre

10) A/C or air-con?

We’re in the middle (actually hopefully toward the end) of a heat wave in California, and this week I’ve been finding myself referring to ‘air-con’ a whole lot—or a lack thereof at my house.

But it wasn’t until an American asked me, “What’s that?” that I remembered the term “A/C” is more commonly used here.

You start to forget which words belong to which places.

9) You miss the food as much as the place

Flat white at Tenth State

The two countries where I spent the longest amount of time were Australia and Brazil. I miss a lot of things about Australia, but I specifically miss flat white coffees from the Tenth State coffee shop in Perth, close to The University of Western Australia, where I used to work.

In Brazil, I miss the fried, chicken-filled pastries called coxinhas, but even more, I miss the shrimp gnocchi at Bar do Victor in Curitiba, which was within walking distance of my apartment there.

I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who would travel back to a certain place just for a particular meal.

8) You stop using iMessage

Seriously, get with the program, People of the USA. WhatsApp is thousands of times better (especially when it comes to groups and replying to a specific message)—and way more global.

And seriously, WhatsApp Developers, get with the program—WeChat puts even you to shame.

Nevertheless, iMessage is for communication amateurs.

7) Your circle of friends starts to look like the United Nations

Truly. My closest friends are from the U.S., Australia, UK and Brazil, and I’m not even mad about it. Sure, we maybe see each other once a year—or perhaps even less in Covid times, but they’re always ‘there’ whenever I need.

6) You get good at mental math

That, or a time zone converter app becomes your best mate. This is due in part to #7; I find myself constantly trying to figure out how many hours people are ahead of or behind California time.

Having meetings with university reps from across the globe makes it even more important to get it right; the last thing I’d want to do is set up a meeting with someone in the middle of their night.

5) It’s on the tip of my tongue…

If you’ve lived in a place that speaks a different language, you may find that you start to forget words in English. Whilst in Brazil, there were times when I could only think of the word I wanted to say in Portuguese—which really annoyed me.

But then I started to think, well, this is a good thing, right? I must be becoming proficient. Now, I just think my brain has a limited capacity of words, and for every new word learned in Portuguese, an old, underutilized word in English died out…

4) You start to dream in another language

This definitely happened to me. It was super confusing in the beginning, but then it became so natural. It was like I was subconsciously exploring a new part of my culture.

3) People start commenting on your ‘twang’

Australians would be probably offended if they heard someone else telling me I have an Australian twang. I don’t think I have one, but it has been a few years since I’ve lived there.

Nevertheless, hearing a certain word pronounced the same way over and over can definitely influence the way you pronounce it. And for me, that’s most notable in the way I pronounce the name of the country itself and a number of its cities—Melbourne, Cairns and Canberra especially.

The American way of saying those places is like fingernails to a chalkboard now for me.

2) You realize you have a network of vacation homes for life

“The Holiday,” anyone? My friend in England and I are definitely hoping to do the California-England house swap one day, as seen in the movie.

Sadly, we’re both partner-ed up, so there will be no Jude Law adventures included in my adventure!

1) You find yourself absorbing the best of the new cultures for an entirely new self

Your views on the world will change, but even more than that, your views on yourself will change. You’ll be more confident, a better communicator, develop new interests and open doors for yourself that you never knew could be opened.

I am not the same person I was when I first moved abroad to study nine years ago.

And thank goodness for that.


Interested in applying for college or grad school abroad?

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G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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