What I’ve Learnt from Living Abroad

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I haven’t left Georgia in 6 months, and more surprisingly will have been officially living in Georgia a year come July. I’ve made two trips home since, last September and December, but otherwise have been milling around in Tbilisi.

I’ve learnt a lot in this time and am at a weird stage now where I can’t quite work out if I prefer to stay here or if I’d like to live in the UK again soon now the opportunity has arisen.

This list is more for my own benefit, to be able to visualise how I’ve grown in this time, but will most likely apply to other places too.

So let’s get rolling!

1: The world is small

No, really. I know it might not seem so for people who have to embark on a 12+ hour plane journey to visit their family, but technology means you’re really only a click away from sharing a cuppa with your parents or from joking around with your friends. Of course I miss the physical things like sharing pizza and cuddling my dog, but in a way I think the relationships only improve and get stronger when there’s some distance and you’ll appreciate each other more. This applies to romantic relationships too, which has no doubt prepared Shota and I for the healthiness of our relationship now.

2: Language barriers really aren’t such a problem

I’m British, which means I barely know English properly, let alone have the ability to learn any other language. Georgian isn’t exactly the easiest either, especially for those of us who mumble, but it seems that’s not such an issue. Being British means I’m not so expressive with my body language, or atleast I wasn’t until I moved here. I don’t just mean pointing at stuff in the supermarket, but rather how easily you can be read when you smile at the right times or otherwise throw your hands up in disbelief in a way mostly associated with Italian arguments.

This photo below is the first time I realised that I’m now someone who argues with their hands. In the UK, a simple tut and a few eleoquently sewn-together words can hit the sore spot easily, although nothing penetrates in Georgia like some facial expressions and a some angry hand waving.


3: You’ll grow some balls in a way you didn’t imagine possible

When I left London last year I wasn’t exactly nervous, just was sheltered in a way where I was too scared to change a light bulb or catch a spider, although was happy to wander around East London alone at 4am.

Tbilisi threw me in the deep end. In my first month I managed to nearly explode the electrics by having the hot water running at the same time as the oven being on, smashed 8 glasses in one go because my shaky hands and came face-to-face with a mouse (or 5)…

Now I don’t retch at the sight of pig heads hanging from car boots, can cook a whole meal on one hob, yell at people in enough Georgian and hand gestures to show when I’m angry, make friends with scorpions and even catch chickens without flinching (which I did just yesterday to save the poor little guy from being strangled by a plastic bag he’d got caught in – pick up your litter!). Oxford is gonna be a breeze.

4: Sometimes people just won’t understand you, and that’s okay

This was something that took me a while. I come from the fairly open-minded land of England, where things aren’t perfect but we generally don’t allow lynchings and such to happen anymore. In Georgia I found that not only could people not understand how to pronounce my name, but they also couldn’t understand why I support LGBT rights, why I’m not fascinated by people fist-fighting or why I’m 5’11” without heels.

It’s nothing against Georgians, or anyone really (except don’t be racist or homophobic…) but it’s just these differences that make the world more interesting.

Just last week, Shota and I were in a lift chatting and two Georgian girls walked in and started saying in Georgian how we’re a good couple who suit each other and then whether or not Shota was Georgian and could understand them.

He kept quiet but I found it hilarious when he explained, because they looked so mean and judgmental that if it was just me I’d be defensive and nervous that they were bitching about me. It goes to show you can’t always assume that what you know and expect will be the same for everyone, and Georgians are generally cursed with severe bitchface.

5You can’t change things by smacking your head against the wall

You can’t move to a foreign country and expect everything to suit you and the way you like to do things. Sometimes it takes time to accept these, and some things you’ll probably never be able to wrap your head around. Rather than cry and sprout grey hairs in frustration, step back and realise that that’s just how things are and they might need a few centuries to change, if ever.

Mostly, these are traits that actually define the nation, so either way you’ll be learning something (if only patience). I can’t tell you why Georgians – who are convinced that if you have your feet or head exposed then you’ll catch the plague or something, yet live amidst choking poisonous car fumes and litter without much complaint.
I have plenty more points I could make, but I don’t want to babble-on too much. Also, I would hate to spoil the fun if you’re thinking of moving abroad too! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re considering, or already have, experienced something similar. Have a beautiful day!


5 thoughts on “What I’ve Learnt from Living Abroad

  1. Will says:

    I have been fascinated by Georgia for years, though I have never been there. Don’t they have a distinctive alphabet? Have you been able to pick up the language quickly?
    And what a great blog you have!


    • itstartedinoxford says:

      They do, it’s beautiful!
      The language is really difficult, but more so because of grammar and pronunciation. I can understand most but can’t speak well 😦
      Thank you! I’m so glad you like! Nice to meet tou


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