Saturday, January 2, 2016

How My Relationships Changed When I Moved Abroad (And Back Again)

Moving abroad changes a person in a lot of ways. Beyond the changes that I have noticed in myself, I have noticed a lot of changes in my relationships with people- both the people I have encountered while abroad, and the people back home. Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about how these relationships have changed. I started noticing these changes immediately upon moving to Sweden. The more time we spent abroad, the more my relationships changed with family, friends from back home, friends I met while living in Sweden, acquaintances, and my husband. I'll be honest, I started writing this post while wrapping up the season last April. Now, after having spent a full two years abroad and finally moving back home, only to move a few hours away yet again, changes have continued happening. Truly, I feel this is something that anybody who moves away experiences, but it is especially prevalent among expats who live a back-and-forth lifestyle. So, here we have it with how my relationships have changed!

With Nick and I's family on Thanksgiving
With my Family

Since moving abroad, I really feel that my relationships with my family members have gotten so much stronger. This may seem contradictory since for two years I lived 4,000 miles away, but it is 100% truthful. However, my family has been terrific and made huge efforts to come and visit each year. The little time I was able to spend at home in the summer and visits, much more of this time was spent with family. While in Sweden, my family also was able to come and visit Nick and I for several weeks. This extends even beyond my immediate family, as one of my aunts and a second-cousin of mine also visited and I was able to reconnect. Now that I have moved back to the U.S. but am still several hours away, each and every trip back to Minneapolis has family as a priority.

With Friends Back Home

The biggest area in which I see how my relationships have changed is with friends I had prior to moving abroad. To be entirely honest, many of my friendships have fallen to the side. Part of this is a communication thing- in Sweden, I was always seven hours ahead time-wise. It can be difficult enough to maintain friendships when you are in the same time zone, let alone when you are living in a completely different country and are seven hours ahead. On top of this, as a person I changed. My experiences abroad and traveling changed me, and became a major part of my life. There were friends back home that I no longer had as much, or even anything, in common with.

My first year abroad, when I did not have as deep of connections with new people that I had met, I was desperate to keep these friendships alive. I would routinely reach out to friends, calling, texting, skyping, trying to make plans to see them when I was home on break. I found that for some friendships, because I was not physically present, the friendship got forgotten about. This realization was difficult, but it helped me to move on from friendships that had become a one-way street. It also helped me to strengthen friendships with those that had stuck by me, as well as with friends that I continued to make. As such, I've realized to let go of those friends that cannot maintain a friendship without your physical presence. If somebody cannot make the effort to reply to a text message, phone call, letter, or Christmas card - for months on end - then clearly, they are not worth my time.

With Friends Made in Europe

I became very close with many of the people I met while living in Sweden. I've talked before about how many of these friends became family, or at least a temporary family for while we were all together. One of the things I realized with many of the other hockey wives, especially the North American ones living abroad, is how similar of experiences we have. These were truly the women who understood the challenges of living thousands of miles away from friends and family. These were the women who understood that sometimes, people back home simply don't understand. While I don't talk with all of these friends daily, or even weekly, I know that because of our shared experiences, these people will always be there.

With Acquaintances

For this post, I'm going to talk about two types of acquaintances. First, there are the acquaintances that you know from some time in your life. You are familiar with each others names, and part of each others backgrounds. With acquaintances, I have found that through social media and blogging, many acquaintances I know have been able to keep up on portions of my life. Often, these people will ask how my time abroad was, and inquire about my thoughts and feelings on traveling. I have had several people comment to me on how much they love being able to connect with me through my blog, and others who have told them how my experiences and blog have inspired them to travel. While before, I may have brushed these conversations off and left quickly, I now enjoy the fact that I run into people I know every once in awhile. It is nice to know that the world is still small!

The other acquaintances I want to talk about are strangers that you meet for the first time. Now, when I first meet people, I am more patient with them and want to understand more about their backgrounds and what makes them tick. I'll be honest, specifically I love meeting other people who have a passion for travel, or who have lived in other countries. It is all about a desire to bond over a shared experience, including the highs and lows of expat life. This is something I think all expats who have repatriated have in common.

With my Husband

Finally, the most important relationship of all: my husband. I moved abroad with a fiance, and at the time I thought we were very close. However, between all of the challenges and triumphs that two years abroad and moving back home brings, we are exponentially closer. When you move abroad, you are forced to rely 100% on each other. Not only did we live in another country together, but we spent every single holiday away from family, and with each other. We traveled together. We laughed together, and we cried together. Truly, we grew as a couple, and our relationship is much stronger than I had ever imagined possible. Our communication skills are excellent, as we can now communicate in several different ways. Sometimes we speak, sometimes all we need is a pointed look, sometimes no words are needed and we just understand each other. I am so grateful that my husband is the one I chose as my life partner, and that we have been able to experience this life together.

With Myself

I've talked about how my relationships changed with family, friends, and my husband - but my relationship with myself has also changed. I'm more independent now than I used to be. I have learned how to be more patient and understanding with people. I have better learned how to identify good intentions and relationships with people, and no longer waste my time on poor relationships. After several years abroad, I am better at identifying exactly how I am feeling and understanding why I am feeling a certain way. In this manner, I have grown more patient with myself and have learned to cut myself breaks sometimes.

Overall, living abroad will change your relationships with people. Some of these changes will be positive, and some of them may be negative. In the long run though, the people who are meant to be there for you, will always be there for you.

Question of the Day: To others that have moved abroad, or simply moved away, what changes have you seen in your relationships?


  1. As you mentioned, when you move away or travel abroad alone, one finds out how independent one can be and how to grow into yourself. I am so glad that I allowed myself the gift of travel and moving away across the country in my twenties and thirties because it allows me now to encourage my friends who chose a different path to bravely travel and find themselves worthy of this gift. In regards to changes in relationships, I've found that the friends who have been positive influence are still there, while those living in various forms of fear have moved on.

    1. Hi Andrea, thank you for your comment! Traveling certainly helps you to learn a lot. And yes, like you mentioned the positive influence friends are those that stick around. Cheers to great travel experiences and relationships!

  2. Everything seems to be going just great with you! I find it really amazing how much some time living abroad can change a person and the relationships with others. I am also an expat and I can say that moving abroad made me more grown up and responsible. I also appreciate my friends and family much more. Thanks for sharing your story! I wish you all the best!

    1. Tammy, thank you for your kind works! You clearly know exactly what I am talking about as an expat yourself. Relationships certainly change, but it is not always a bad thing. Happy 2016 to you and yours!

  3. How i got my boyfriend back.My name is Stacey Bruno.I never believed in love spells or magic until I met this spell caster once when i went to see my friend in Indian this year on a business summit. I meant a man who's name is Dr ATILA he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one's gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I'm now happy %26 a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 5 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 3years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Canada, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn't believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is

  4. Oh this is so true. People who were just acquaintances when I was back in my hometown have truly now become really awesome friends. And also best friends who have turned to become strangers. And though being friends with locals is a good thing when you are abroad, it is often refreshing to hang out with people that understand your situation. Thank you for sharing this Samantha, is beautiful!


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