My wife and I recently relocated from Vancouver, Canada to Aberdeen, Scotland. We plan to be here for the next four years of our lives as I begin my ninth year of post secondary studies and my wife looks for work in her area of choice.
We found out that this change was occurring only three months ago, so it's an understatement to say that this move has been very surreal for us. Knowing only about a dozen people in this city, with no local bank accounts, phones, and wireless internet in our home, with about 5% of the stuff we had back home, we're all of sudden living in a completely unfamiliar city and back to a literal and metaphorical blank slate. It took us about five minutes to unpack our things in our new flat because that's how little we had when we showed up.
There are moments of terror as we navigate this change, yes, but those moments are significantly outweighed by the moments of exhilaration and growth: it feels good and formative to start over and learn to live in a new place. It also helps that people are very kind here.
At this point I should clarify that I'm not one of those people who believes moving to a new place will solve my problems. Rather, I believe that the saying wherever you go there you are is apt: we can't escape ourselves just as we can't escape our problems. However, we can learn more about ourselves and our problems when we relocate our lives and start anew. This is because starting again forces us to apprehend the things and people we view as essential to life and comfort; then ask questions such as what do I really need to get by?
And when we ask such questions, we realise that there answer is: not much. Sure, when we moved countries we left behind two steady paycheques, a home we loved, people we know and love, and everything else that you have when you live in a place for 11 years (me) or all your life (my wife). That's definitely not easy. But when we gave all of that up, what we gained was a realisation: It's going to be okay. We can do this. You need less than you think you need to get by in life. The excess that we count as essential to living? It isn't essential. It's just excess. Look for what's really valuable and hold onto that: the breath in our lungs and the possibility before us when we step out to try something unfamiliar and new.