10 Things I learned from living abroad

1. Everything is figureoutable and you’re stronger than you think

When you live abroad and out of your comfort zone you’ll be in so many situations where your family and friends can’t just like, help you. You have to figure it out on your own. From navigating in a new culture, making new friends, figuring out how to pay rent, where to live, how to move a couch up on the 9th floor and Googling which bank you should pick – handling all of that makes you so extremely independent, confident and it builds selftrust.

When you consistently put yourself in an environment where “sink or swim” applies, where you just have to figure it out, trust me, you will figure it out. Every single time.

2. The power of action vs. dreaming

Dreaming is one of my favorite activites, it’s so fun thinking about all these things you can do with your life, but for most people that’s where it stops. Taking ONE step towards something you want, even if it’s just researching on Google for 5 minutes is worth more than 100 hours of dreaming.

Buying a book about this thing you’ve been thinking about, signing up for a course, opening a savingsaccount, posting one photo of your art on social media today or going for a hike if you’re about to start a health journey is so important.

Yesterday I heard someone say “It takes about 20 hours to get into a skill like, playing the guitar or learning how to make a webpage, but it usually takes people 10 years to start these 20 hours”.

3. We’re all fundamentally the same

In the best and worst way possible. We all want love, friendship, connection, to follow our passions and to laugh. We all want to feel welcomed and included and valuable.

Even when I was in China, so far from everything, in a culture that was so different from ours, and even though I didn’t speak the language, we connected with so many people despite the language barrier. A smile, a hug and being open goes such a long way. I’m a firm believer that if people traveled more and cared more about getting to learn about other cultures, there would be less hatred and fear in this world.

4. Home is where my heart is

I’ve lived in 12 different apartments just here in LA over the past few years. It’s true, I counted. 12. My whole family lives in Denmark. We sold our family home and they just threw a wrecking ball into it. But none of that really matters. I can understand, but not ressonate, with people who are deeply attached to their home, but in the end, you are your own home.

After living abroad and constantly having to “re-nest”, I’m at a point where I’m confident that you can take all my belongings from me today and I’ll be fine. Unless it’s my passport, I kinda need that one.

I was seeing a guy at a point, who talked about this expensive watch he wanted, then he wanted an expensive house and a specific car, and he admitted that it was because he wanted to show people that he’s successful.

To me, I’m successful when you can plant me in any environement without these materialistic things and I can still be happy because I have my good friends, my family and my passion.

5. You can always get money back, but you’ll never get your time back

It’s such a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Sometimes I think we lack a little bit of selftrust in this matter. You’ll find the money if you really want whatever it is that you’re thinking of.

It makes me so sad when people stay in jobs they don’t like, because they just want the money. Is it really worth it, if a third of your youth is being spent somewhere you don’t want to be with people you hate? You’re too hot to sit there and be sad, my friend.

6. You can literally be whoever you want to be and you don’t need anyone’s permission

Moving abroad means starting over. Clean slate. No friends you grew up with and feel like you have to see but you actually don’t want to. No exes you can run into (yet, lol), no environement where freaking everyone has a history and knows each other and people judge you based of how you’ve been acting in middle school.

It’s a breath of fresh air. No one knows you. So if you wanna start being that b*tch, you can be that b*tch. But you know what? You can even do that if you never left your hometown. And I think that’s the lesson here. You can wake up tomorrow and start doing everything differently, act differently and make different choices. If you’re scared about being judged by family or friends or coworkers, well, f*ck these people then.

Let them judge you. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what feels right to you.

7. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak

Oh my… US taxes, creditscores, social security, banks, apartment applications, health care, parking rules, traffic rules or even just getting a couch up the stairs to the 9th floor.

I consider myself as a hyper independent girlie, so this has been a tough one for me. But let me start by saying that studies show that people like you more if they can help you with something. So no, you’re not a burden, actually it’s often an opportunity to build a connection with someone. Like, when people reach out to me with blog questions – I LOVE it. I love being able to help and feel like I am contributing to other’s lives.

Secondly, sometimes asking for help can literally save you 40 hours of trying to figure it out yourself. That is super independent and productive to me that you’re figuring out how to get something done quickly by using your network rather than sitting there for 50 hours with your big a** ego, insisting that your only worthy as a human being if you figure it out alone.

8. Traveling and living abroad won’t get rid of your problems

I created a TikTok account (come say hi! @matilda.veje) and sometimes people tend to glamourize traveling a little bit. Your family problems will still be there when you get home, your insecurities will still follow you on the plane, if you were colorblind before it’s not like you go to Bali and suddenly you’re not colorblind anymore.

I’m kinda kidding, but you know what I mean. In a lot of cases it CAN get rid of certain aspects of a problem like, not running into your ex every day at work is great! But in most cases it will just give you different problems.

Every single choice in life comes with pain, like, take being a dancer for instance. Yes, it’s my passion and it’s fun and great, but that package also comes with rejection, auditions, dry periods of times with no jobs, living away from family etc. But I would rather deal with that pain than the pain of moving home, having a full-time job I don’t like, or having to start a family when I don’t want to.

9. People come and go, but you’re stuck with yourself forever – so be your own bestie!

You learn how to make connections and start conversations with strangers. That’s for sure. But if you’re traveling and on the road, or living in a city like LA where thousands of people come and go every single day, you need to learn how to navigate in that.

I don’t have any friends that I’ve known for 20 years. I’ve met people on jobs in China for 3 months, and they then went back to Russia and Ukraine and Italy etc. It was hard for my heart to learn that most people are just here for a season and not be overly attached and cling on to people.

It’s so important to be okay with being alone, to take care of yourself mentally and physically – my alonetime is so important to me, I love going to lunch by myself or being creative alone. The relationship you have with yourself is crucial.

10. There are no bad decisions, only good stories!

Go on the date, go on that vacation, say yes to the party, sure you wanna go to karaoke tonight or go on a weekend trip to Stockholm. Yes, you’re gonna start that business even though you have no clue about how to start a business.

I don’t know, life is not that f*cking serious, right. Like, we’re supposed to have fun and have a lot of experiences, so that’s at least what I strive for. Can’t wait until I’m 90 years old and sitting there with my grandchildren og grand-puppies and telling them about this fun life I’ve lived.


IG @mathilde.veje

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *