Where are you from? What do you do for a living? What are your interests? How would you describe yourself? Are you arty, sporty, studious?
Most of us are able to introduce ourselves without a second thought, we know who we are and what we like. We have friends and family who have known us for years and they know you inside out – your habits, character traits, your interests. Once people know you, it can be difficult to change who you are, or their perception of who you are and we are unconsciously constrained to this perception. Humans have a need to categorise everything, we like things to be certain, defined, we like to put people in boxes.
“I’m not arty, I’m not sporty, I don’t dance.”
When you move away (abroad, or to a new city), you know nobody and nobody knows you… Whatever you think defines you suddenly becomes more elastic. You are unchained from this preconceived idea of who you are, and this can not only be really liberating, but also the perfect way to develop new interests and meet people.
In a new country, you are not bound by any sociocultural-linguistic ties and you can truly reinvent yourself, if you really want to.
Think of something you’ve always wanted to do, or try, but never have because you didn’t want to look like an idiot, or you didn’t think you would be any good at it, or you were worried what people would think. (Even though you shouldn’t care, most people do!) What better way than to take up a new hobby, and try your hand at something different?
It doesn’t have to be a sport or a skill, it could be new habits. Maybe you want to try cycling around instead of getting the bus. Maybe you want to try being vegetarian and see how that works out.
When I moved to Spain, I started taking pilates classes and now, yoga and pilates have become an important part of my exercise routine. I had never considered myself a dancer, but in Mexico, I took salsa and bachata classes – this awakened a part of me I never knew existed and now I couldn’t imagine myself not dancing! When I moved back to London for a year, I decided to try out vegetarianism. Now, in Colombia, I’m learning how to draw. I’m becoming more observant, seeing things I would have never noticed before. I’m constantly learning something new; it’s an exhilarating path of endless discoveries!
Of course, trying out new things and developing new interests is not limited to people who move away, but it is such a major changes that force you to stop, think and reassess your life and what you want to improve. This is even more relevant when you are alone in a new place without friends or family, and it is also a great way to meet people!