Living Abroad: What I’ve Learned Living in Austria

I feel like it was just yesterday when I was huddled with my parents in the San Francisco International Airport crying tears that were a mix of sadness and excitement. I had always been raised to go for my dreams and that I could be and do anything I ever imagined – but this was a lot bigger than leaving my parents home to go to college or starting my own business as a personal trainer. Five years ago I sold all of my belongings, packed everything I needed in 2 suitcases and moved to Austria.

In this family huddle I said, “Something big is going to happen I know it…” and my mom said, “Something GIGANTIC.” Still working towards that GIGANTIC-ness every single day and enjoying every single moment.

Here’s the only picture I can find from that day…with my grandparents at lunch before heading to the airport.

9 things living abroad has taught me…

  1. It’s okay to ask for help: Being the independent person that I am, it was SO HARD for me to come to a foreign country where I didn’t know the language, customs or anything and have to ask for help for EVERYTHING. This made me so fucking angry, it was a tough first year for me.
  2. Hard is okay – giving up isn’t: I cried multiple times per week nearly every week for the better part of 6 months. I missed my family, my friends, Target and Trader Joe’s the most. But after talking with many friends who had lived abroad or in other states, I promised myself I would give it at least 1 year before deciding whether I liked it or not. I made it to that year mark and realized – Lunden, you got this!
  3. Differences are what make the world so beautiful: I love meeting people who think, live, eat, act and talk differently than me. It’s been so magnificent to observe others without judgement.
  4. I love my “American” mentality: I didn’t even realize that this was something so prominent, but I’ve been told over 100 times that my “I can do anything” and “Anything is possible” vibe is “so American”….I’ll take it. I truly believe that in my heart and soul and am proud to spread that shit all around.
  5. Thank GOD for technology: When my great grandmother came to America from Italy – she never spoke to or saw her mom again…ever. The technology didn’t exist to just pick up and call whenever you wanted like it does now. I Facetime with my parents every Sunday and am able to message with and call with my family basically whenever I want. Even though I am so far away physically, I feel closer to them now more than I ever was while living in America.
  6. Traveling is the most magnificent experience in the world: Since moving to Austria I got bit by the travel bug…hard. I LOVE exploring new places and am a firm believer, I don’t care who I upset here, that everyone HAS to travel abroad and explore other countries in their lifetime. I feel like you’re missing out on SO MUCH if you don’t find a way to make this happen.
  7. I don’t belong in an office: When moving to Austria, I started working at the Runtastic office. Even though I truly believe working at Runtastic has to be one of the best office-job experiences out there…being in an office is not for me. I did it for 4.5 years and gained MANY incredibly invaluable skills and experiences and made lifelong friendships…but, I still learned it’s not for me. I love working from home, coffee shops, trains, trams, in airports and even outside — all around the world. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world…I’m just happy I now know exactly where I feel most productive and prefer to get my work done – and that’s anywhere that I feel like being.
  8. I don’t want any “what if’s” in my Universe: What if I didn’t move to Austria? What if I was too afraid of the preconceived outcome, that I didn’t go? Gosh I can’t even IMAGINE that. This experience has taught me to just GO FOR IT.. no matter what. The worst thing that can happen is that you learned you didn’t like it. Just like #7, boom you learn and that’s a WIN.
  9. Who cares if “everything” is closed on Sunday: Oh my gosh you guys, this used to make me SO grumpy that more or less everything is closed in Austria on Sunday’s. Now I love it and I honor that day as a time for family (p.s. so thankful for my Austrian family I’ve “acquired” through my boyfriend) and to relax. I enjoy my long runs on Sunday’s and, since everything is closed, it’s a great excuse to curl up on the couch and watch crime shows – my guilty pleasure.

I’m not gonna lie, I got a bit teared up writing this posting and looking back at all of the pictures. But it’s been worth every single minute and I would do it all over again.