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The Challenges of Living Abroad

There are so many reasons someone may leave their home – love, adventure, career, family – but leaving is never a decision to take lightly. To be able to understand the challenges of living abroad, we interviewed three young women – Stephanie Navorski, Daniela Cruz and Victoria Skottun-Geeves – who left their families and friends behind in search of a new and better life.

A three-month internship in China helped Stephanie Navorski, 23, from Sydney realise that she wanted to travel the world before permanently settling in one place. Two years later, at the end of her aerospace engineering degree she moved to the US to start her journey that aimed to explore new cultures and horizons.

For Ms Navorski “being in a new place and having new adventures, while also experiencing different cultures is what life is all about.” While in the US, Ms Navorski looked for an engineering job but struggled due to strict citizenship rules that exist in the industry there. After eight months of exploring and travelling, she decided to pack her things and move again, this time to the UK. She now lives with her uncle and has found a job in High Wycombe.

Although it is not Ms Navorski’s dream job, she says, “This experience has helped me grow and get to know myself better. I do miss my family and friends since I relocated, but living abroad has opened my mind, which has helped me experience different ways of life.”

According to the Migration Policy Debates report in 2014 immigration has been rising as people travel around the globe to find better opportunities and expand their knowledge for professional and personal reasons.

Since 2008 around 100,000 Portuguese people leave the country every year. From those that leave Portugal, many are professionals who although would be able to find a job in their home country, prefer to live abroad as they are able to find better opportunities. Among these Portuguese we met Ms Cruz, 24, who left her hometown, Vila Real de Santo Antonio, in 2014, along with 60 other nurses, to move to Leicester.

Ms Cruz had a hard time leaving Portugal, as it is where she lived all her life. She misses her family and friends, but also the food and the spectacular climate that Portugal has.

Just like her cousin, who is also a nurse, Ms Cruz says, “We were forced to leave the country we hold so dear as there were no jobs [2009 recession]. I miss Portugal terribly. Here it rains most of the time, while in Portugal I used to spend most of my time at the beach. Regardless, I think that most of the young graduates that migrated do not want to go back. We want our families and children to stay and grow up here. We are here now and we plan to stay.”

Ms Cruz has been adapting to her new life in Leicester and she is glad she has found a country that offers great professional opportunities whereas Portugal does not. “The advantage here is that my work is valued and the pay is great, having the possibility to progress in my career is something I value immensely” she says.

Although Ms Cruz wants to stay in the UK, she still finds time to fly back home whenever she can to visit her family and friends.

Living abroad is not as easy as one might think, and Ms Skottun-Geeves, 23, says “It gets harder by the minute.” Ms Skottun-Geeves is a final year student in London and has been adapting quite well to her student accommodation. Nonetheless, she still misses her friends back home in Norway.

Her father is in Norway and her mother in France, but here she is positive that she is growing and acquiring skills that otherwise would have been hard to get in Norway. She says, “Living and studying in the UK has forced me to improve my English, and now I have language skills that the competition at home lacks!”

The best part of living abroad for Ms Skottun-Geeves is being able to learn other cultures and values.

As Ms Navorski says, “Making scarifies is part of life, and this has helped me grow and become the person I am today. If life were easy then it would be no fun! It’s worth living when we have challenges, whatever they may be – the fun part is the journey not the destination.”

These women all share the same nostalgia other migrants share, but they are aware that by being abroad they increase their spectrum of opportunities in their near future. Living abroad has given these women the opportunity to embrace new cultures, become resilient and trust their instinct.



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