When I decided to make Tel Aviv my temporary home back in July, I had a lot of things hidden in the back of my mind. Living in Tel Aviv was essentially a test. Would I be able to survive X amount of months in a (relatively) big city in a completely foreign country? I knew absolutely no one when I arrived here and I knew even less about Israel. Didn’t speak the language, know the people, know the history. I wanted to discover it all for myself.
Back before I started traveling I wrote 5 Reasons Why I Want to Travel Around the World. One of those reasons, “to prove to myself that I can do it” was important enough for me to test it even further. I wanted to prove it was possible to make a life for myself in a new & foreign place. And I succeeded.
Moving to a new place is always challenging. Will you meet new people? Will you find a job? What if you don’t like it there? For me, I wanted to see, with a short-term test, whether it was possible to move to a new place (hello Tel Aviv!) and make a life out of it. And so it goes.
Part of my plan for this trip has been to live and work abroad. So why did I feel like I needed to test the waters just a few months into traveling? Back in college I had studied abroad twice (Sydney and London) so the idea of living abroad wasn’t completely new to me. But both of those semesters abroad, I had the ease and comfort of a structured life. Housing was provided. I had classes to attend. Friends were at the ready in the form of other students on the same study abroad program. Though my time studying abroad was a bit of a challenge, it was also rather easy. So I wondered, would it be as easy this time around?
How to live abroad successfully
I decided I wanted to live in Israel rather quickly. But to be able to stay, I knew I would need three things:
- some sort of commitment to keep me occupied (and my mind active)
- a place to stay
- and a way to meet people
Those are the three ingredients necessary for successfully living abroad. My first week in Israel was spent as a tourist. My second, I looked for a job. My third I looked for an apartment (downtown!). Every day since I’ve made a habit of being outgoing and trying to meet new people. I used online connections, Twitter, CouchSurfing, Foursquare, friends of friends. I spoke to strangers in bars. I tried my best to not be shy.
And now, while I’m packing my backpack for the first time in months, I’m finding that though it may be easy to move to a new place & meet new people, leaving that place is not quite as easy.
Tel Aviv was a test. And what did I learn? Yes, it’s possible for me to live abroad. But picking up and going doesn’t get any easier. Especially when it feels like home.