5 Life Lessons That I Gained from Living Overseas

Raysa Lestianti
5 min readAug 13, 2020


In the sky of Warsaw University’s Library (source: personal)

Living in European country has taught me little things: I can proudly talk to the people at the first time in English, I used to not using toilet bidet, I used to bring my own bag while shopping in grocery store, I am able to cook European food and I can greet people with local language.

I have found myself reflecting serious life lessons, about the world. And about something sounds cliche, about myself.

I learned more about myself

Meeting a lot new people and adapting with new cultures was not a surprise. There is no such thing as “normal”. When the first time I arrived in Warsaw Chopin Airport, I felt really abnormal about myself, I wore hijab and most people there did not wear it, I felt so cold in the middle of winter while the friend of mine who came from European country did not think it was a big deal. I brought a lot of stuffs and was not strong enough to bring my own luggage. I was not able to buy the bus ticket by myself because I thought we need student card to buy since I also had no cash money as well. And the next two weeks just ran so strange, I felt like experiencing a culture shock and start thinking what am I doing.

In the first day of orientation week, one of the executive board asked students a question about their feeling and also one of the most remembering moment during their stay. Some friends told about their strange moment when they just arrived, from that story I knew that this was happening in most people. Other things such breakfast idea, routine, ideas or even world map have their own perspective when come to people around the world. So, from there, I start not to overthink and worry about everything, I feel so much confident to deliver my own ideas because I know being different is normal and just the way this world is.

I also found myself undoubtedly becoming more adaptable since I need to adapt my body not to eat rice like I used to when I was in Indonesia. I also experienced fasting in Ramadhan within a month with longer period like 17–18 hours. I still did not believe it was just happened and I can do that without any hesitation.

I developed new skills

I really enjoy cooking but cooking in my home is something that usually done with my mother. Many Asian food materials are not available in Europe, so I need to be able to improve the ingredients to be more adaptable with this situation but still acceptable with my tongue. I tried a lot of Europe recipes from Youtube, such as french toast, pierogi, oat cookies, lasagna, soup, pasta. Beside that, living in Europe makes me cook more healthy food. I also shared with my European friend to live healthier. I used to walk many miles apart to get something and now I do love walking. So many beautiful thing in there, made me serious to learn photograph and videograph. I started to capture something appropriately and doing my own editing. It was such an amazing experience that happened in my life.

I pushed out myself through the comfort zone

A lot of people has the idea that living in a foreign country is glamorous and exciting. Yes, it was. But not everyday was Instagram-worthy, especially in my case, in COVID-19 pandemic, I need to push myself to stay inside and survive with the condition. For introverted person like me, of course it was not a big deal, but the condition was I need to share my room, toilet and kitchen with others. So, it made the condition doubly hard because I should adapt with other’s habits and cultures. I also need to say goodbye to chicken and beef because most of them is not halal and if I want to buy them I should go the halal butcher which takes 1 hour riding from my place. So, most of time I prefer becoming vegetarian and it is really healthy for me.

There, I live a normal life for the most of part, I do everything with my own self. I wake up early, do my task and online class. I prepare my breakfast, lunch and dinner alone, work out, and go grocery shopping like anyone. I brought my own heavy stuffs alone (most of it more than 8 kilos), take the bus and walk. My grocery shopping is done with Google Translate and my sight-seeing there is done with Google Maps. I tracked bus and train by Apps, rent bicycle online, used e-money rather than cash. So, honestly some of them become easier and simpler than in my country.

I let go material things and lived more simply

Living abroad during COVID-19 pandemic with uncertain situation, like flight cancellation to go back home, losing opportunity to experience international class atmosphere because the class ran online and also losing some hands-on experiences that I never feel before made me overthink and overwhelmed. The moment when I am leaving and maybe it is quite hard for leaving some stuffs behind when I move, I will think that some stuffs has accompanied me during my living, full of memories. But at the end, I realize I will not need them to bring. So, I left them. I become think that my living is not permanent in that country. So, just prioritize something that I need the most. I do not think about everything should I have. I start making a list of essentials.

Living in a place that is not permanent can help me differentiate between necessity and comfort. When I have to pack all my belongings into a suitcase, I found that many things added bulk instead of value to your life. By eliminating those material items, I have earned a sense of unparalleled freedom that comes with a life of few possessions.

I had a different point of view

Of course, nothing make me more open-minded than living abroad. Living far from my home, friends and lover made me feel lonely sometimes. I could say my view about this world is small and big at the same time. Small, because I realize that I can through everything and become more independent and confident with the connections that I make. Everything seems accessible. But, in other vein, It’s interesting to think back on how little I knew about Europe before moving here. I feel like an entirely new world has been revealed to me, yet I know I’ve only just skimmed the surface. I know the same is true for every corner of the globe.

There are so many places to explore, cultures to learn about, and people to meet. I did not think it was possible, but it is safe to say my wanderlust has been kindled even more by the experience of living in a different country.



Raysa Lestianti

On a journey of self-discovery and leading a life with purpose. I write mostly about self, mental health, education, marriage, parenting and life.