Expatriate alone – Audio&Acoustics Hub

Moving abroad – a dream for many and a challenge for many others.

It’s difficult? Is it worth it? How to do? When to do it? Is this a good decision?

(Disclaimer: No one can tell you if this will work. You’ll have to go find out.)

The decision to leave my country of origin, Portugal, came after finishing my baccalaureate. Among the other motivations for doing so (which I will discuss in another article) was the fact that I wanted to move to a country a little more advanced in the field where I wanted to work. At the time I considered two countries and ended up choosing the UK

Believe it or not, that decision was made and the process started within a week. I’ve never been one to distrust my “intuition” and damn the idea was so exciting, adventurous, promising and it was just what I needed! 🙂


I can’t say they were too excited for me to go abroad on my own, but they supported me as much as they could. After all, who likes to see their family spread all over the world? (In my case there were already a few and coming from a Portuguese family we like to have each other at arm’s length so the distance didn’t seem ideal)

What about money?

I’m not going to lie, money can be a drag if you want to move overseas. There are the flights to the country you want to move to (and the flights you’ll want to take to visit family), accommodation, food, bills, public transport and many little details that all the everyone needs when moving to a new house/apartment/room. I should add an additional comment that part of this sum will have to be spent while you have not yet found your first job in your new country, whether it is a full-time job or part time.

BUT – It can be life changing and if it means you have to spend a year working to save some money so you can try your luck then it might be a good idea to do so. For the lucky ones who are lucky enough not to have to think about money then you can skip this step and what a relief it is! If like me, you need to save money, then know that it is not impossible. It just takes longer. It takes perseverance, will and determination. But you’ll probably get there if you don’t give up.

Is it hard to save?

This can be very difficult depending on your lifestyle, the country you are from (salary) and other life factors. In my case, I studied full-time and worked part-time for the duration of my bachelor’s degree and most of the money I earned was used to pay bills and rent (when I lived with my family, i didn’t pay rent but i had to pay to travel from home to college which was quite a long time when i moved to a room near college i had to pay rent, bills and the food). The wages for the part-time jobs I was doing at the time were quite (extremely) low, so I certainly didn’t leave Portugal with a pot of gold before going abroad. I’d say I left with just enough to give it a shot with no room for error.

Is it hard to be so far away from family and friends?

I guess it depends on many factors and every case is different. Anyway, in my case it was and still is. I don’t think it will ever get any easier. It is one of the prices to pay. On the other hand, those who love you will always be there for you, so your circle could eventually get much smaller, but I would say it will be to the right people. I can say that was the main thing that ever made me wonder if going abroad was the best decision. On the other hand, if like me you cannot easily find a well-paying job in the field of your studies, you may have to sacrifice something – it’s up to you what. One thing I can say is that there is a good chance that a few years after your stay abroad, you will have the chance to visit your family and friends more often if you manage to get better pay/life and of course your family and friends will end up having a free vacation stay when they visit! 🙂

Personal experience of moving abroad on my own

So let’s cut to the chase: when I was coming to the end of my BSc in Lisbon in music technology/sound engineering, I had the impression that it wouldn’t be easy to find a job in sound or music. acoustics that is well paid. If I was right or wrong, I will never know 100%. Besides that, I wanted to do an MSc in sound and/or acoustics to complement my studies and I wanted to do it in a country where both fields are likely to offer more career opportunities. After considering a few courses I applied for the MSc Audio Production at the University of Salford which involved quite a few of my favorite subjects and my application was accepted. So I moved to the UK to study (and work because you can’t live outside thin air 🙂 ).

I was then doing my MSc and working on 2 part-time jobs with temporary work as well as in between as a translator. My life back then was not that of a typical college student as I never went to any parties and barely dated anyone because I was still studying or working. I had to do it because I was alone in another country and I decided that from the moment I set foot in the UK I would rely on myself for everything and that’s it. is what i did.

Now it was not easy. But it was very exciting with everything new and different and I guess that helped through the less happy times.

Within a week of moving to the UK, I lost count of how many jobs I applied for. I worked day and night while studying for my MSc and in the meantime I was sending out CVs trying to find a job that would pay better than the part time jobs I had at the time. It took me about 4 months to find my first job in acoustics and how happy I was when I found it. It was when I was able to say for the first time “I did it!”. It was one of the times in my life when I felt most accomplished and proud of myself. It was obviously only my first job and the money was not plentiful but it was the start of something good. It was the beginning for me to have a job rather than 3 and to earn more, to work during social hours, to have weekends for me and even to drive a company car which was so useful to discover more places! On top of that, I was lucky to land on a team with the friendliest people. After a while I started doing my part time PhD in Acoustics and Audio Engineering at Salford while working full time as an Acoustic Engineer which I still do. (Doing a part-time PhD while working full-time is well worth a blog post on its own – I might do that soon and offer some friendly advice on how to handle it!)

Since then it’s been mostly about learning, growing and trying to enjoy my life in a new country.

Pros and cons

Having been here for a few years, I had time to understand a few things about myself, what I want out of life, and the overall experience of moving to another country on my own. Here are the pros and cons I encountered. These may vary from person to person, but I think we will have a few in common:

BENEFITS of moving to a new country

You can travel to a country and experience it on a deeper level than when you travel just to go on vacation;

You learn a lot about yourself. About who you are and what you can and can’t do (surprisingly or not, you might find that you’re your best friend and there’s not much you can’t do when you think about it);

You develop a new language (one thing I learned is that no matter how well we think we speak a language, when you get to live in its home country, with all the accents, conversation fast, new expressions, you’ll feel like there’s a lot you don’t know);


You will not be close to your family and friends;

You might run out of money (especially in the first few months while adjusting to the new lifestyle and cost of living);

There are a few documents/registrations you may need to take care of to live/work in the country and you will need to figure out how to do it all on your own;

It may take some time before you have enough money to live comfortably;

It can sometimes get very lonely even if you are comfortable with solitude (especially when the excitement of being in a new place wears off);

You will miss the little things you never thought were important

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