Guide 101: when your family moves abroad without you

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while and have only managed to sit down and do it recently.. The title says it all really. So here we go..

As the world is becoming more global and multicultural, it is becoming common to hear that families are not only moving house but moving to another country or even continent.
When my parents’ decided to move to Canada in the summer of 2013, I found that there was nowhere I could turn to for advice. The simple solution of “Google it.” wasn’t working. It appeared that no one else had ever experienced this before. I knew that I can’t be the only one. At all. But why wasn’t there any comforting or informative blog or thread to for me to waste hours reading?

I have realised that in the build up and period of adjustment to the “big move” there just wasn’t that much information or advice out in the world wide web that helped me or my family through it. Many google searches rendered useless except for the obvious fact that having the opportunity for my family to live abroad was one of the best things they could do. Most would assume that those members of the family that are moving have the hardest struggle of all. I don’t disagree with this at all however in this particular situation, it was missing out one important factor. My parents’ and brother were emotionally pushed to the limit when they left – my mum still cries in the airport no matter who comes and goes – and I admire them so much for braving it out. But they do have each other in a physical sense. What I mean by this is that they remained intact as a family unit whilst I floated along on to be attached through the use of Facetime and WhatsApp.


Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 12.13.06


I still find it difficult to explain to people because I feel like I am coming across as melodramatic and a weepy mess. Many people, friends and strangers, that are young adults are most likely to say that they don’t see their parents much either except for obligatory holiday visits or if they happen to be taking a weekend break from being at University. I understand their position because if we were to count the amount of days they see their parents and I see mine, it may total up the same. But the crippling thought for me that is quite un-relatable is the psychological fact that my parents’ just are not there to go home to. Hence this is the core as to why I wish I had someone who experienced the same as I. Even if they’ve only posted once on Yahoo! Answers. Yet to hear their side of the story too could have made adjusting so much easier.


To stop my babble continuing… I’ve boiled it all down to five things I wish I had known when it all began… I most likely paint myself to be a grumpy and melodramatic but it is difficult to explain emotions and goings on without it. Nonetheless, I hope it’s a good read…!

1. Honesty & Expression

In short, let yourself feel your emotions and don’t internalise them if they are doing you more harm than good. I’m not suggesting that you let the water works flow constantly but it’s better to talk to someone about it before letting it build up and then explode out in a jumble. I definitely remember one occasion where I just burst into tears on one of my housemates’ bed because I just let all the emotion and thoughts build up and break out when completely unrelated things were stressing me out.

2. Keep yourself busy

Sometimes the saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ may ring loud and clear because your family will be doing different things that you aren’t able to do back home. If you don’t want to be alone, you don’t have to be. If none of your friends or other family members are over, go to the cinema, look up creative DIY ideas you can do at home or do those chores you’ve been putting off for ages. I found that most of the time I didn’t worry or think about it consciously but every now and again, I had to give myself a boost of positive thinking when I was stressing about whatever a 21 year old does stress about…

3. Communicate

 I have to admit that now my relationship with my parents’ has improved massively through the use of FaceTime and Whatsapp. An important thing is that if you want to talk to them, tell them. As we both have this need to check in with each other once everyday, it means we talk about everything and anything that is going on. My mum is a lot more like a best friend than she has ever been. I understand that as everyone grows up their relationships with their parents’ mature and improve and the same has happened to me. I guess the positive is avoiding my mum’s nagging by accidentally hitting the mute button… 😉

5. You are not alone

 I found that this is the hardest one to come to terms with. Due to this not being a common situation, it’s hard to feel that you have someone to turn to. Most of my friends were all really lovely about it and were always happy to lend an ear if I needed it. However it felt really difficult to be open about it because it’s not something they can relate to personally. When we want to help our friends through  a difficult time, we use our own experiences to give advice. Most of the time that helps but for me; all I wanted to do was just let it all out with someone without a word being said. That being said, it is so simple: you are really not alone and you’ll always have someone to listen should you need it. Even if it is your poster of Justin Bieber or the teddy you just can’t get rid of that sits on your bed. 

After this whole rollercoaster, I am so lucky to have the family I do and to have experienced all the opportunities that have arisen in wake of Calgary being added to my ‘places to call home’ list. Despite it still being more of a ‘holiday house’ for me, I have definitely accepted it in all it’s trauma and glory.

My Family, Canadian Summer 2015
My Family, Canadian Summer 2015

I hope that this has helped anyone who’s gone through, or going through the situation. More so, that it may help anyone, who has a friend who is in the exact position as I am, understand it all that little bit better. I’d love to know what you think of all this or if you’ve experienced the same!

Big love.