living abroad

Feeling at Home While Living Abroad

You’ve been dreaming your whole life of traveling the world, exploring other countries, and even living in a bustling foreign city or two for a time–and now it’s finally here. You worked hard to earn a place at a university abroad, join an extended tour, or embark on your own with a few friends. That was only the beginning.

You’re so caught up in downsizing your belongings and trying to guess how many warm sweaters is too many to pack that you’ve probably not thought about exactly what you’re going to do to settle in once you get there. Have no fear! Check out these quick tips about decorating/furnishing your new apartment across borders to get prepared.

Types of Decor

I use the term “decor” very lightly here. In your new, hands-free adventure, you want to avoid items that can be big and bulky because your bags are already packed too tightly to squeeze much else back in there for the trip home, so try to stick to a few items.

Items will be easier to transport if they are one or more of the following:

  • Small – If you’re obsessed with knick-knacks, stick to smalls ones that can be wrapped up in socks or shoved into the irregular spaces left in your suitcase.
  • Flat – The thinner the item, the easier it will be to slip between your belongings and the flat suitcase wall or with your laptop.
  • Foldable – Items in fixed forms may be harder to find space for, but things that can be condensed and/or reshaped will be easier to fit into those empty crannies you have.

What Should You Invest In?

We don’t usually think out exactly what we’re going to put in our rooms, especially when you’re in a more transient state. But as much as we like to slowly accumulate things until our space has made itself, there is one main drawback to this method when abroad: you end up with too much stuff.

To cut down on just how much there is, try to limit which types of items you invest in. We are really good at justifying keeping this or that, so rein yourself in when deciding how much you’re allowed to bring to the new flat as well.

Great decorations to put in your room are those that have and will bring your comfort, things that serve as reminders of home or what your purpose is while living abroad, and especially a few things that signify the special new memories you are and will be making.

These objects will be even better if they serve more than one purpose; for instance, bringing a favorite bag that you use for school and grocery shopping over and over again.

How to Acquire Your Decor

When you move abroad, it’s easy to tell yourself you’ll just buy anything else you need once you get there, but you can definitely be smart when you go about decorating your new rentals by looking places other than the nearest Primark.

  • Bring – A few things straight from home are worth packing both ways. Just don’t do anything silly like bring a block of beloved books.
  • Collect – Anything you buy new, think of as an addition to a very exclusive collection. Things purchased should be very special indeed!
  • Inherit – Wherever you’re going, there are people leaving that are trying to get rid of a host of things they realize now they shouldn’t have bought (lucky you, you’re learning that lesson ahead of time). You’re in a great place to inherit things like pillows and duvets for free or at a very low cost.

Just as important as getting things on the shelves and tack in the walls is planning what you’ll do with everything once it’s time to leave. Whatever you’re not taking with you, get ready to sell or pass on to old friends or newcomers that need what you’re giving up. Keep all that in mind, and it’ll be just as easy getting out as it was getting in.

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