Hello to twenty sixteen! Yes, I know the New Year is a bit over and we are currently in mid-January…. I have just recently moved to Goa, India to pursue a psychology internship and it has been hectic so far but absolutely loving it! Anyway, I wanted to share my experiences I have learnt in 2015 as it has been a massive learning curve and a continuous stream of adventures!
2015 has been the year when I lived in three countries, Denmark (Copenhagen), Australia (Perth) and India (Bangalore). For the first half of the year, I was still living in Copenhagen and was in my second semester of studying abroad at Copenhagen Business School. I have moved to Copenhagen in August 2014 and it was my first time living abroad and I was loving every second of it! By the end of August 2015, I moved back to Perth to continue my studies at my university. At the end of November, I saw myself moving to Bangalore, India to pursue a counselling and therapy internship at Tamahar Trust. Let’s say I truly love living abroad and I find it uniquely satisfying and exhilarating to explore and understand a culture/society.
What I have learnt from 2015:
#1 Family and friends
I can not thank my parents enough for letting me take every opportunity to pursue my dreams and pushing me to chase after them. I am truly sorry that I was not home for Christmas and New Years for the past two years….. However, I am so thankful for always having your support, love and letting me explore the world!
For people who knows me, my friends are a very important aspect of my life and I would treasure them like a piece of jewellery. I have met some amazing people along the way and I am so lucky to have them as part of my life. While studying at CBS I have met people from around the world and I am so fortunate to have people with a new/ different perceptive in my life. Thank you for showing me another way of understanding the world. Luckily I was fortunate to have met some fascinating people from all walks of life in India and I have learnt it is never too late to chase a dream and turn it into reality. Learn not to settle for something you do not want but fight for that dream career or life you always wanted. All you need to do is be willing to take the risk and plunge into the unknown. As people say friends come and go and unfortunately in 2015 I have also seen some friendships end but I have learnt to accepted it and move on. Thankfully from living abroad, I have learnt there are so many other people to meet and the people in your life will stay there regardless of the situation you are in.
Copenhagen was my first time living abroad and living by myself. Thankfully it was not too much a culture shock and fortunately, I had the basic skills to live independently. Living in a ‘studio room’ by yourself (own kitchen and bathroom) in a dorm you learn how to juggle from university work, social outings, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and the weekend travels. Organisation and time management is essential if you want a good time and not be struggling or stressed out.
Have a diary/schedule. Personally, I love using a diary/schedule, I am old school in a sense of handwriting events in rather than using an electronic version on a phone or laptop. For me a diary is my baby, it is the best way for me to organise myself by plotting in all my university assignments, exams and those weekend travels and everything else in-between. Make a list! From “grocery shopping” to “to do” list, just write it down! For example doing grocery shopping, have a rough idea what you are cooking or if you are going to be home during the weekends. From there you can list out all your items you need but stick to it, especially if you are hungry when shopping! Hence you will not over purchase on items or forget any items. The same goes to have a “to do” list, set a routine or block a certain time of the week to do your laundry, basic cleaning, running errands and other miscellaneous activities.
Living in Copenhagen you learn how to budget. Yes, it is similar prices to Perth besides the expensive coffee which is between $6-$10 AUS. Set a budget of how much you are going to spend in a week and set aside for social outings and most importantly those weekend trips to another European city. For me, I had categories where I broke down my budget into food, transportation, travel, utilities (phone and gym bills), social, travel and miscellaneous. The accommodation was already set aside from the beginning and if you are living in a city where it is bike friendly, I highly recommend in purchasing a bike and using it. Transportation was the lowest budget for me as I was riding my bike everywhere and the metro was only used when it was really bad weather or going out at night.
From living in a dorm we came up with the concept of “family dinners”, it is a great way to get together in the evening and create a “hygge” feeling, yes we are trying to be Danish! Basically each day someone takes a turn in cooking dinner for the night and it is also a fabulous way to have a night off cooking!
#3 Problem solving
I have developed my problem-solving skills in relation to travelling. This means I learnt how not to freak out when something occurs and learn how to not stress but take control of the situation. This takes time and experiences to developed and you learn how to come up with plan B, C, D more efficiently if something does not go your way.
#4 Learning how to adapt to a new environment
From living in both Denmark and India I have learnt how to adapt to my new environment and surroundings. Before moving to any new location, city or country, please do your research first! Read up on the place you are staying, if there is any cultural factors take it into consideration and be aware of them. Also, Google map your accommodation if you already have one. See the surrounding area and figure out where is the closest grocery store, shops, metro, university or work etc. A tool for making the transition to a new place easier is to make friends, engage in social activities and explore the city you are in.
#5 Reverse culture shock
I have heard all about “culture shock” and “reverse culture shock”. Honestly, I did not realise how big reverse culture shock can have an impact on me but it definitely did! Moving back to Perth it took me at least a month and a half to two months to actually feel settled in. I would complain so much about everything, from driving to university to the nightlife, the prices in Perth and the bakeries. I even think I have complained about cheese too! I absolutely loved the biking culture in Copenhagen and how it only took me eight minutes to university and 20 minutes to the city centre. While in Perth it took me a while to deal with driving 40 minutes to university and just over an hour on the way back during peak hour traffic. The distance from A-B in Perth has definitely irritated me but eventually, I have adapted and become accustomed to it again.
In order to overcome reverse culture shock, I tried to have a routine and keep myself busy between university and work. I also developed a rule to have a social outing each week and it ranges from brunches to late night events. Last but not least, talk it out. Tell your parents or friends what is making transiting back home more difficult. Yes, they may not understand but at least you are getting it off you chest!
#6 Appreciating the small things in life
Sometimes you need to take a step back and be grateful for what you have. This can be the people you are with or the scenic view you are currently observing or anything else in between. Remind yourself to stay in the present and appreciate what is currently right in front of you. I personally love sunsets and it is my favourite time of the day. Even though this may seem cheesy, the rest of my day feels more fulfilled. Another concept I have to understand is appreciating the sun…. While living in Northern Europe the sun can be a rare commodity and you realise how exciting the warmth of the sun feels and you plan the day of being outside. This is an oddly strange experience coming from sunny Perth where sun deprivation is not even an issue to consider and we take the sun for granted.
#7 “Always take the negatives into a positives”
This is a little quote/saying I made up and use on a daily base. It is a nice positive mindset and learning experience to keep using. Regardless how bad your day is you can always teach yourself to learn from those negatives and use them as experiences.
Thank you 2015 for a fabulous year!
Till next time,