The idea of living abroad is a fantasy for many, but it’s important to remember that expat life isn’t all parties and weekend trips. What’s expat life really like after the initial sparkle fades away? After the dust settles? Is it still the dream you thought you were chasing?

Like many first-time expats, you’ll want more out of life than what you had at home. People often consider moving abroad because they’re unhappy with their lives back home; maybe you’re bothered by your career trajectory, romantic prospects, or a lack of international travel. Maybe you just feel an inexplicable void, an indescribable need for new scenery, new people, new everything. There are plenty of things to consider before you move abroad, but you need to be prepared to start all over again, which is the single most important part of the adventure that is the expat life. You have to be willing to start again from the beginning.

Some of you might say, “that’s okay with me, I just want something different.” And that’s great; it’s commendable to seek out adventure and widen your comfort zone, especially when the end result is getting to live somewhere new and exciting. Whether you’re moving abroad temporarily because your employer transferred you abroad for a fixed period or you’re setting out to live in a new country without a job at all, you’ll find the expat life both challenging and immensely rewarding.

Starting over at at any age is as much about discovering yourself as it is about new adventures. You have to let go of your former self and allow change to happen, all while holding on to what is essentially you. It’s easy to get lost thousands of kilometers from everyone you’ve ever known. And you will get homesick, even if it’s your family from whom you’ve run away

With time you’ll build a new family, meet new friends, find a job, and live a life. But you still have to clean the bathroom every once in a while, take out the garbage in the morning, and pay the bills no matter where you live; hiring an au pair won’t solve all of life’s problems. Life, at some basic level, is the same everywhere; and that includes the expat life.

What you might be giving up in progression and stability, you are gaining in life experience and adventure. That’s the reality of it. And time heals all wounds.