The Hardest Part of Living Abroad?

London view from a plane

When you live abroad, there is one thing that suddenly becomes a regularity: goodbyes.

Whether you are going back home to visit family and friends or someone is coming to visit you, you know that at the end you will have to say goodbye to them again. I think this is probably the most difficult aspect of living away from your loved ones.

plane on the runway
You develop a love-hate relationship with planes.

Two weeks ago, my mum visited me for the first time here in London. Although she is scared of flying by herself, I got her a plane ticket for her birthday last month and simply insisted on her coming over. It is not a very long flight, after all, so I figured she would be fine. After some initial anxiety over the whole endeavour, she made it over just fine and I picked her up at the train station, and we had a great weekend filled with lots of coffee and chatting. I showed her all my favorite places in London and she very much enjoyed staying here, wandering around the city and seeing it from the point of view of an “insider”.

As lovely as this weekend had been, on Sunday night I was already feeling sad about the next morning – my mum had an early morning flight so I had to bring her to the train station early before work. We said goodbye quickly and she turned around to walk to the train, both of us trying not to tear up. And that’s how it goes every time.

Heathrow Airport
Plane spotting at the airport.

Whenever I go back home after visiting or someone who visited me leaves, I remember how difficult I find living away from them, even though by now I feel happy and at home here in London. Whenever I have to say goodbye, I try to be strong and show, especially my family, that it’s okay and we will see each other again soon. But every time I turn around and walk away, I can feel this sinking sensation in my chest and my eyes are welling up. (On that note, airports and train stations have probably the biggest collection of CCTV footage of me walking around teary-eyed…)

What makes it difficult for me is seeing them sad about me leaving. If it was only me who was sad when saying goodbye, I could overcome this feeling more quickly, but knowing that my sister or my parents are upset to see me go is what makes goodbyes very challenging. It often might take the rest of the day to overcome this sort of sadness. I’m a rather melancholic person when it comes to these things, and unfortunately, I can often adopt a rather pessimistic outlook on things, even though I always try to do the opposite. Instead of focussing on the fact that I had a great time, I’m sad because it’s over. I know this isn’t the right attitude, but I often can’t help it. Even though I will try and cheer everyone up by saying I will be back soon (which is always true), I still turn around fighting back a sob in my throat.

I often wonder if I will ever be able to stop feeling sad and a bit guilty every time I say goodbye, or whether at some point in the future I will be able to reconcile these feelings and take goodbyes a little easier than I do now.

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on ending this post on a sad note, so I am going to try and brighten the mood a little. In every goodbye, there is also the waiting for the next hello. I visit home fairly regularly, and I know it’s only ever a short flight away. Instead of being sad that I have to say goodbye, I should focus on the fact that it’s only a goodbye until the next hello and the next coffee date with friends, family breakfasts, and evenings spent sitting together and laughing.

View of Hamburg from a plane
I’ll see you soon, Hamburg.

Even if you live abroad, your home does not become less of a home, you merely gain a second one on top! And with the help of smartphones friends and family are always a little bit closer when we need them.


Do you live abroad? How do you deal with saying goodbye when you leave home? Let me know if you have any good ways of coping with goodbyes!

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