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  • Writer's pictureMariana Carvalho

Myths About Living Far Away From Your Home Country

The reality is very different, and it is normal to feel how you feel

I have been living in the US for almost seven years. I moved out of Brazil because I got a scholarship to attend an HBCU university in Jackson, Mississippi. I shared that experience in this article.

It was a huge cultural shock, to say the least. However, I enjoyed learning more about the south of the country, its history, and its culture. From Mississippi, which has the lowerest Human Development Index in the whole country, I moved to Massachusetts, the state with the highest HDI. All this information you can find here.

Neither of these transitions was easy. Every time someone asks me about the differences between countries, between states and how I feel living and working in such different places, I reflect on what society says, what I think about living far away from my family, and how much even though we are the same, we have different backgrounds, experiences, and value different things as individuals.

In today’s article, I want to share some of these reflections.

Myth: Living abroad is always glamorous and exciting

Living in a foreign country can be challenging and lonely at times. When I first moved here, I was living with a partner that was also from Brazil, so it was kind of “easy” to feel at home.

However, we were still isolated, and in the state of Mississippi, there weren’t many things to do. We focused on studying and graduating, so it eased our eagerness to always connect with other people. I am very social and outgoing, so our plans always included trips to Brazil.

At the same time, we were students, and the money was short. It wasn't easy to be always going to our home country. In the meantime, adjusting to a new culture takes time and effort.

Myth: You’ll easily make friends with locals and fit in right away

As I mentioned, living in Mississippi wasn't easy. There were not many people from Brazil to easily connect with. Our friends were mostly Americans or Indians.

They come from different countries and backgrounds, so it took a willingness to step out of our comfort zone and actively seek out social opportunities.

Myth: You’ll automatically learn the language and assimilate into the culture

One of the biggest challenges while I started my master, was to quickly learn not only the technical language and terminology but also the slang in that particular region. Learning a new language doesn't happen automatically. It took time, and effort to put myself out of my comfort zone.

Myth: You’ll save money by living in a country where you can make more

It was definitely not the case for me in the first four years of living in the US. For the first two, I had a job at the university, and everything I made was used to pay our living expenses. My last paycheck from the university wasn’t made, so I had to use some of my savings from Brazil to cover it and get my diploma (this story was a soap opera!).

If you are moving to a new country or have just moved, and are feeling lonely, exhausted, and hopeless, know that you are not alone, and that feelings is very much common and normal.

Trust the process and remember the reasons why you made the choice to move to a new place, explore a new culture, learn a new language and connect with people in a different part of the world. You will become a better person because of it, I am certain of that.


Mariana Carvalho is a writer, career mentor, Latino 30 Under 30 2022 by El Mundo Boston magazine, Mentor of the Year 2023 by WomenTech Network, with over 12 years of professional experience, the last 7 in corporate America. Connect: Mentoring | Medium | LinkedIn | Instagram | Threads | Website

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