My expectations for living alone, abroad

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So, remember how I’m now doing a brief stint with a nonprofit here in Tel Aviv, Israel? Well, this is the very first time in my semi-adult life that I’m technically living somewhere I’ve never lived before, somewhere where I don’t know a single person.

I wanted to do this earlier in my life but I was always a little too…afraid. It can be scary to be in a big city and not know anyone. At least that’s what I always thought. When I graduated University several years ago, I didn’t bother to take the risk and move to a city where I didn’t have a job or a group of friends already set & established. Instead, I took a job in the same city I’d already been going to school in. Easy.

But now I’m here in Tel Aviv. There’s something exhilarating about being somewhere foreign, somewhere unknown. And not just traveling through, but actually living here (even if it’s just for a few months).

I won’t be alone while I’m here. I’m not worried about it even if it were to happen. I’ve got roommates & co-workers. I’ve met people; I’ve started talking to strangers. I’ve got Twitter, FourSquare and CouchSurfing—all really useful ways to connect with strangers. And I plan to take full advantage of it.

Meeting people hasn’t ever seemed easier, to be completely honest. Probably because I’m not holding anything back. I know it’s all up to me. I can’t rely on old friends or old connections. This is my life and now I’m here. I’m taking charge!

Have you ever moved to a city without knowing anyone? How did you manage and how did you change?

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25 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Sasha – that sounds like an amazing experience! Things like that can (and will) definitely change you. For the better, usually.

  2. I remember landing in China and after a two week orientation surrounded by foreigners I was dumped in a foreign city, where they only spoke a a foreign language with not another foreigner in sight! Those 5 months learning to live alone, to live without much of a social life thanks to a ridiculous 10pm curfew for a 21yr old who didn’t bother with Uni was the best education I could ever get. Learning to adapt, learning to really accept a culture and take on some of it’s attributes as my own. I think more young ppl need to do this, throw themselves in the deep end, nothing matches that experience! And maybe even fall in love with the country and decide not to leave!

  3. That’s so great, Sarah! When I moved away for University, I had family in the area so it wasn’t nearly as daunting. It’s nice to go far away—you can learn a lot about yourself. And it’s always quite easy to get back home.

  4. I moved to Pittsburgh for college not knowing a soul. Might I also say that I moved to Pittsburgh from Florida? Also, that all my friends were going to the same school (UF) and living together?

    Yeah. I needed to get away. I have always loved to travel – been to Israel, Egypt, New Zealand, and Jamaica (not on a resort). So I knew staying in the same state with the same people wasn’t an option. While I was on those travels, I met the most amazing people. Like you said, “I’m not holding anything back.” It was so true.

  5. Erica, It's actually quite easy so long as you're flexible and allow for big itinerary changes. I recommend it (at least so far)!

  6. So awesome Adam! I'm hoping that we can do that somewhere in our trip as well! :D

  7. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks so much for your comment! You're right—it's a great thing to do if only once. And learning to enjoy being on your own is an important and valuable lesson. I think a lot of people are afraid of it.

  8. Hey Megan, it seems every Aussie moves to London at some point. I think there's actually a good network of expats in London, too—I seem to remember several Aussie bars & pubs.

  9. Oh those Canadians—they're so nice! I registered for the US Embassy here, but all I get are travel warnings and e-mails telling me to ask my building where the nearest bomb shelter is. No joke.

  10. Good on you! It is a scary thing to move somewhere completely on your own, but it's always good to try it at least once.

    I went to a college where I didn't know anybody, and I studied abroad for a semester in New Zealand without knowing anybody going there. Being on your own like that in a new, strange place I think just helps you come out of your shell. You have a stronger urge to make connections, hence you meet people and perhaps do things you wouldn't normally do.

    Going to NZ on my own was the best decision I ever made. I met new people and had some adventures, but I also learned to love being on my own sometimes. I discovered a lot of things about myself in Wellington, and met some lifelong friends in the process.

    Good luck in Tel Aviv!

  11. I love the idea of it, but don't know if I could put it into practice! Like most Australians, I've always considered London as the next step after my travels, but not really knowing anyone, and being so far from my family and friends for yet more time…it's pretty daunting! Props to you for doing it :)

  12. I moved to the Philippines once so I completely understand your fear. One thing I did that helped me meet a lot of people was to register at the Canadian Embassy, they had events each month and invited Canadians to them.

  13. NYC would be a terrifying place to move without knowing a soul. At least that's what I always thought and that's why I haven't done it.

    Yet.

    And can't wait for you to get to Cairo and hear all your stories there!

  14. I love moving to new places- I'm always scared before going, but then fear turns into excitement!
    I moved to New York City on Jan 2nd, 2009 and didn't know anyone. It was my first time there and didn't know the City at all.
    But then I found awesome friends and places I liked, and everything was easier :)
    Of course English is “easier” than Jewish but believe me NYC is tough.
    As you know I'm moving to Cairo soon and I can't wait!!!
    I LOVE cultural shock:)

  15. Pam – can't wait for you to get to CM! It seems like it's going to be a blast!

  16. Thanks Jenna! It doesn't actually seem brave—just seems… easy. At least so far!

  17. Hey Michael, That's awesome what you're planning to do. And lucky that you have some family there as well. I'm actually hoping to get to Australia by the end of the year myself, so maybe we'll cross paths!

  18. Thanks Kelsey, it's already done wonders!

  19. Moving to a new city is a great way to step out of your comfort zone. It may sound scary, but it's a thrilling experience.

    Tel Aviv would be an incredible city to 'settle' in to. I'm hoping to rent an apartment in Chiang Mai when I get there in September. I can't wait to be somewhere new and foreign to me. There is so much to explore and discover.

  20. You are really brave to not only move to a new city where you don't know anyone but to move to a city that's not in your native country. I have moved to totally new places by myself, and soon after I made friends, usually through work, but I enjoyed the space to be by myself, too. When I lived abroad, I did it the easy way– I moved in with a college friend who was in the Peace Corps. It was nice to have each other's company and support, but we might have grown more if we had been alone. Have fun and take advantage of everything while you can! :-)

  21. I haven't done it (yet) myself, but I will be heading to Australia instead of coming home after my few months travelling Asia at the end of the year.

    I have family there who will put me up, so accomodation is sorted, but for all intents and purposes I will still be very much on my own and won't have any friends, so I will probably be using Couchsurfing and Twitter to meet some people when the time comes.

    I plan on staying for around 6 months, and I will NEED to work because otherwise I won't be able to get home! Argh! Exctiting stuff!

  22. I have always found that moving to a completely new city where you don't know anyone is the best way to grow your confidence and self-esteem. I miss it, to be honest.

  23. come quick while i'm still here ;)

  24. super proud of you! hope youre having a blast… my heart is ACHING for Israel!

  25. super proud of you! hope youre having a blast… my heart is ACHING for Israel!

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