The Top Ten Things I Learned from Moving Halfway Across the World

It’s no secret that moving is never easy, whether it’s over to a neighboring city, state or half a world away. A few years back I moved to the island of Guam and took away so much from making this island my home, here is a taste of what I learned from moving halfway across the world.

1. You need fewer things than you think.
Honestly, I was kind of intimidated by the thought of not having anything but a suitcase for the first few months that I would be on the island.  But my eyes were opened to the kind of freedom that comes from being able to fit all of your belongings in your suitcase, despite a few things that I may need to pick up here and there.  But I’m glad it opened my eyes to much more than the materialistic living that I had always been surrounded by in the city.

2. Reading about things and experiencing them are so vastly different.
This one was a tough one for me to admit, being a bookworm who believes I can research to find a majority of the answers in life. But while the research and reading may help prepare you for whatever you’re going to tackle in life, nothing teaches you quite like real life in real time. Experience takes the cake every time.

3. Know where you can find medical attention or fill your prescriptions.
While this one isn’t so insightful, it’s going to be ridiculously helpful down the road.  Maybe it’s my fear of Murphy’s Law coming for me, but just in case something happens it’s good to know where to go before, rather than try to find out during whatever happens that will send you their way.

4. Have all of your personal documents and medical documents in your possession.
I seriously dropped the ball on this one. I didn’t get a copy of my medical records before leaving Vegas. It honestly slipped my mind with all the other craziness that was happening in my life.  So I had to face the super fun task of trying to send a medical release their way, have my records sent to me and deal with the less than helpful staff that failed to update my information as I had requested prior to leaving and were road blocking the whole process. Without my mother being in the city to physically go down there, I probably would have been screwed.

5. Network, meet people and make friends.
This sounds so basic, but honestly, it has made a world of difference for this huge transition. Get out of your comfort zone, talk to people, go to events, and, prepare yourself for this, talk to people at those events.  I’m pretty shy by nature, so this was a new challenge for me! But, I admit that I got really lucky and met some wonderful people early on, but it makes such an impact on the quality of the adventure!

6. Get out of your comfort zone and explore your new home.
While this kind of piggybacks off of number five, it’s true in all aspects of life.  Try the food, try the common hobbies, or even just drive around to get yourself acquainted with the area.  I quickly found out how much I love the local food in Guam. Kind of a fear for me that I wouldn’t care for the cuisine since I don’t eat fish, but I am so glad to be wrong! I’m still working on this one daily, but it has definitely provided me with some rewarding experiences.

7. You find out who your friends are.
It sounds so harsh, but I swear it’s not, it’s honestly so very refreshing.  It’s just one of those seasons in life, like after high school, college or anything other major events in your life where things are brought to light.  It’s not always negative either; sometimes you can care for each other very much, but just be at different parts of your life.  A good friend of mine said it best, to paraphrase she stated “I like what we have, I feel that we have an adult friendship.  You have your life going on and I have mine but we still check in and care about each other without having to talk every day.” Quality trumps quantity in this new chapter of life.

8. You find out who you are.
One of the perks of moving somewhere completely new is that no one knows you.  While this may seem daunting and lonely, it allows you to really see yourself without being influenced by anyone else’s notions about you.  There’s something renewing in finding yourself without outside influences meddling.

9. Different is not a synonym for bad.
Wearing shorts during the time I used to know as winter.  Making plans to barbecue on the beach in December.  Celebrating New Year’s Eve at a pool party.  Just a few things I find very different about living on an island, but definitely not bad!

10. My eyes have been opened to different cultures.
Not just Chamorro, but Japanese as well.  I’ve learned about different ideas of beauty outside of the western culture. I’ve learned about different customs and practices, like how and why Japanese don’t tip (a fun fact I was educated about quickly behind the bar). I even tried to learn some of the basics of the Japanese language in my downtime, mainly to feed my curiosity of language and constant want and need to communicate. There are so much more, different, scary and amazing things than what we are exposed to on a daily basis.  

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Written by ashleighrenay

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