Women Who Moved Abroad Teach Us Anything is Possible

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Most people thought I was crazy for packing up my entire life and moving abroad. But while the decision had its challenges, I’m relatively happy with my life in Serbia now. The biggest lesson I learned? Creating a new life was possible. The hardest part was packing that bag, getting on the plane, and realizing it was happening.

I wasn’t the only American to make such a big change. The global pandemic provided many people the chance to work remotely, try out a new career, or simply take a break from the hectic pace of life. To learn about people’s experiences moving abroad, I spoke with other women who, like me, decided to take the leap. Here are the life lessons they learned along the way.

1Forget the Plan

After getting her undergraduate degree in computer programming, Candice Criscione decided to switch it up and be a travel guide and planner in Italy. She moved in 2004, and now she lives there with her family and helps other families travel through the country

“Don’t let your plans get in the way of you living your best life,” she tells CircleAround. “Anything can be exciting — trying new foods, traveling to new places, participating in festivals, learning a new language.”

By forgoing the life she thought she was supposed to lead, she was able to create lasting relationships with people in Italy while maintaining close relationships with loved ones back home. “Had I stuck to my plan of working as a programmer, I probably never would have had this incredible adventure in Italy with my Italian husband and our three little boys,” says Criscione.

2Embrace the Local Culture

After the birth of their first child, Corritta Lewis and her wife became dissatisfied with the way parental leave was handled in the U.S. They eschewed the traditional 9 to 5 work life that was draining their time and energy, took the plunge, and decided to move to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Today, they share their experiences on their website, Itz A Family Thing.

“We only planned to stay for a few months,” Lewis tells CircleAround. “We ended up staying for nearly 16 months because we fell in love with our local community. We learned to see people,” she explains. “So often we are so concerned about ourselves, or stuck in our own world that we forget to see people. This allowed us to become ingrained in a community as two Black lesbian women.”

3Learn From Your New Neighbors

“After completing the Camino Santiago in Spain, I left the United States while working as an online English teacher,” explains Rachel Posey. She now runs a website dedicated to helping others figure out how to live, work, and travel abroad. “In the past years, I lived in Italy, Morocco, Spain, and now Thailand.”  

As she continues to navigate the world as an LGBTQ woman, she’s learned that the best lessons come from being exposed to how others live. “I have learned a lot about various cultures,” she tells CircleAround. “My family has become more important to me. I traveled to find out what was happening in the world first-hand. I found out I was blessed with being born in the U.S. and being free to completely express who I am there.” 

4Go With the Flow

“The biggest lesson I've learned about moving abroad is to have patience and embrace pivots both in life and in business,” says Chasma Smith, a Black American living and working in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Her background in programming, tech, and business development allows her to work remotely. 

She is the founder of Outdoor Besties, an app which helps connect women of color as they travel the world. It also coordinates and supports independent guides.

“The sooner you go with the natural flow versus fighting against the current, you'll find your harmony and come to a place of ease, happiness, and success,” she tells CircleAround. When she’s not immersed in building her business, Smith is able to spend her time exploring Jamaica. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re considering moving abroad but feel nervous to do so, hearing inspiring stories from women who have taken the leap might convince you anything is possible. Learning from their experiences can help set you up to make the moves you want, or simply serve as a reminder to appreciate what you already have. 

Tags: Travel

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround will make financial distributions to benefit current Girl Scouts: the next generation of trailblazers who will CircleAround after us. So CircleAround for inspiration, and CircleAround the leaders of tomorrow. CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA.

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