Anna Lech Talks Relocation Abroad

Anna Lech Talks Relocation Abroad

Anna Lech profile in Tenerife, Spain.Fresh ocean air, swaying palm trees, June Gloom, people surfing, skateboarding, or playing beach volleyball. I’ve always imagined mornings to be on California beaches as centers of activity. I took a stroll on the boardwalk to see if my image of the Golden State lifestyle, in which everybody is photogenic, athletic, and surrounded by friends on the beach, is real.  More importantly, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity. I needed to find out why millions around the world dream about a relocation to California

I struck up conversations with local surfers and lifeguards so I could learn more about Californian stereotypes. Now, I’ve always thought that there is no better way to get to know a country than to blend in with locals. Usually, I learn much from these conversations. However, this particular one shocked me; one surfer said he’d never been outside his home state. He loved California so much that he couldn’t imagine ever living somewhere else. But how could he possibly know what he’s missing if he had never left home? 

My Relocation Experience

I was born in Poland and for as long as I can remember, I always wanted to visit other countries, learn foreign languages, try new cuisines, and get to know other cultures.  More than that, I always felt fascinated by the idea of living abroad in as many countries as possible. 

When I was a student, international travel and foreign student exchanges weren’t a thing. There weren’t many countries Polish people could freely travel to. 

When I was 22 years old, I was fortunate enough to take part in a three-month work experience program in Germany. Since this was my first relocation, I played it safe by going to a neighboring country whose language I learned in school. 

This wasn’t the case with my next relocation to the UK. On a whim, I decided to move there with just a few words of English, no plan, and barely any air travel experience. This relocation proved to be very difficult and challenging. Nonetheless, my adventurous soul always wanted to experience a vagabond life, even though it meant operating outside my comfort zone.  

I went from feeling scared to be away from home for three months to falling in love with living abroad in just a few short years.  In the UK, I also learned that “home” is where you make it. It’s not a fixed location. 


A year before I turned 40, I made one of my biggest dreams come true. I went for a 15-week backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. I ended this adventure in the Caribbean. I’m glad to report I’m now a permanent US resident who now calls Puerto Rico home.  

My main relocation tips would be to go for it and don’t look back. Prepare for things to go wrong, or at least not according to a plan. 

Moving abroad is not for everyone but, in my opinion, everyone should give it a try at least once. I’ve met dozens of very unhappy immigrants abroad. They count their days before their return to their home country. However, none of them ever regretted trying it. They all said that they became more independent, responsible, and learned new things about themselves while living abroad. 

I am not the best person to give advice on how to responsibly and carefully move abroad.  All I had before I moved to Germany was a fax printout with a hotel address.  Leaping into the unknown felt both terrifying and thrilling. I took an overnight bus to Germany followed by a train ride and a boat journey. I did it all without much research ahead of time. 

Fueled by Spontaneity

Moving to the UK was also very spontaneous. I traveled to London for a long weekend, which planted an idea for moving there. After graduating from university four months later, I boarded a plane to Manchester. I went with the flow, without expectations or any plan to return home. 

The older I got, the more spontaneous I became. At an age when most of my friends had settled down, I packed 13 years of my life in the UK into a couple of boxes. I pursued my lifelong dream to backpack around the world for a few months. Five months after I started my trip, I ended up inviting my family to my wedding in Puerto Rico. America became my new home. 

As a child, I spent many holidays in Hungary due to my dad’s work. Often, I would pick up a few Hungarian words or phrases and use them to impress the folks back home. I had so much fun learning something new that I could put to use immediately. I couldn’t say the same about chemistry or physics.

Falling in Love with Foreign Languages  

I started learning German in primary school. At first, it seemed like just another subject to learn. But as soon as I had an opportunity to use what I learned to travel to Germany, communicate with native speakers, and place orders in restaurants, my approach to learning foreign languages changed a lot. It took me a long time, but I stopped being embarrassed, overthinking, or analyzing every mistake I made. I learned to keep talking and not worry about all the grammatical and pronunciation mistakes I made. In addition, I started to take unnecessary trips to different stores just to read the signs and price tags, or start a conversation with salespeople about random products. 

I listened to songs in the new language, watched TV with subtitles, and read newspaper headlines or advertisements. Every time I heard a new word, I wrote it down. Every time I saw a new word, I highlighted it. I often associate new foreign words with a place, color, person, or situation to bring the new language to life, making learning much more enjoyable than rote memorizing with a book. 

Picking Up the Second Language

Learning English in preparation for my relocation to the UK was a real challenge. I only had six months to prep, so I tried to find the most dynamic and fun way to become conversational. Since this was my second foreign language, I knew boring textbooks wouldn’t work for me. My priority was to learn useful daily phrases that would allow me to function in society, such as asking for directions, counting numbers, etc.

I settled on what was back then a very new, innovative English course called the Callan Method. The method focuses on improving students’ speaking and listening skills by repeating foreign words and phrases over and over again without thinking. After six months, I was ecstatic to be able to speak and understand basic English. Unfortunately, after moving to the UK, I had a bitter pill to swallow. I quickly realized that the course hadn’t prepared me as much as I expected. 

A Different Ballgame

Learning English turned out to be much tougher than German, mainly because I haven’t had any foundational language knowledge from school. But, more importantly, the UK is a very multicultural place and it took me a very long time to comprehend international accents. None of the English courses back home could possibly prepare me for this. 

Now that I find myself in a Spanish-speaking place, I have no choice but to start all over again. Luckily, these days there are plenty of language-learning apps and websites that are extremely handy. I already know from experience that I am not looking forward to struggling with multiple varieties of Spanish.

Living in a foreign country surrounded by unfamiliar customs can be very challenging, but by leaving your comfort zone behind you may discover a new and happier way of life that suits you better. 

Relocating abroad might not be on your bucket list at the moment, but have you ever wondered why some people move abroad and never return home? Or do you love to listen to stories about their time abroad and wish they were your own? If so, don’t waste any more time and make it happen! Don’t be like the surfer I met years ago in Hermosa Beach. He’s probably still never left California and wouldn’t have anything new to say about himself if I ran into him today.   

by Anna Lech

38 thoughts on “Anna Lech Talks Relocation Abroad

  1. Sounds like you have really lived and had many adventures. Relocation is not for everyone but your experiences are everything. I relocated from New York City to Pennsylvania after my mother-in-law passed away. We decided to buy our first home in PA. I am happy to have experienced growing up in NYC and for my kids to experience something different.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more Christine! Moving away from home can be overwhelming and scary sometimes but you don’t know what you are missing until you take this step. I hope you’ve settled down in Pennsylvania and your kids are enjoying a less hectic lifestyle. They can always go back to NYC in the future and, if they decide to do it, your experience will come in very handy.

  2. I love your tip about not looking back and just going for it. You have to take a leap if you want to make big changes. Fantastic.

    1. Thank you Brianne. I totally agree with you! In my opinion there is no reason to looking back when it comes to relocation. Those who want to take this step need to detach themselves from the past and focus on their future.

  3. A wonderful post! Very beautifully written. I have often imagined what it would be like to relocate to another part of the world and this feeds in nicely to my imagination. I am inspired. Thank you x

    1. Thank you very much Antonia! I’m glad to have inspired you. And if you ever move to the place of your dreams in the future, don’t forget to let me know. 🙂

  4. I love this. You have to make things happen. You can’t just wait for them to occur. Fantastic post.

  5. Wonderful post! I lived abroad in London for three years and would relocate again if life circumstances allowed. Great to read your story.

    1. Thank you Kevin! How did you like London? Where did you move from? Sounds like you’re due for another relocation. I hope the right opportunity will come across your path very soon!

    1. Thank you Heather. I hope your relocation dream comes true one day. Which country would you like to move to?

  6. You are living the dream!
    I have always dreamed about taking some time and move abroad, and mainly to Scotland to study, but the time has never been right for me or my family. But life is not over, so there’s still time 🙂

    1. Thank you Anngelic! I try my best 🙂 I totally agree with you. It’s never too late for a new beginning. If you find yourself living in Scotland make sure to try haggis, visit the Loch Ness Monster and, more importantly, purchase a dozen umbrellas 🙂

  7. Very interesting and happy to hear that Callan Method helped you on your way. On behalf of that company I can tell you and your readers that these days Callan Method teachers are of all nationalities and have a range of different accents. The courses are structured so that learners can seamlessly move from one teacher to another and get used to the many variations. So for students of English and Spanish Callan Method is ideal preparation for the real world. In fact I have just learned Spanish with Callan Español and travelled through Spain and South America. It worked!

    1. That’s awesome David! I enjoyed the course a lot and I’d highly recommend it to everybody! I will never forget the phrase, “No, London isn’t a village, but it’s a city.” 🙂 I wish there was Callan Espanol in Puerto Rico.

  8. I found this post really informative especially because my wife and I see relocation as an option in the future.

    1. That’s a great option to have Ivan! I’m glad my article came in handy for you. What countries are you considering to move to?

  9. This is such a wonderful post. I always wondered what it would be like to live abroad. Sounds like you have an an amazing journey.

    1. Thanks Kathy ! If you ever have the chance try to turn wondering into wandering 🙂 You won’t regret it.

    1. Thanks Neely. Who knows, you might still get your chance. People relocate during different stages of their lives. Retirement abroad? Just saying 🙂

    1. Thank you Celebrate Woman. You are absolutely right! Learning a foreign language is such a fun and rewarding thing to do. The choices and ways of doing it are endless.

    1. Definitely Rosey. I’m glad to hear that more people feel that home is where you feel cozy, not just four walls.

  10. Beautifully written post. You’ve had such wonderful experiences. I wish I had the courage to do the same.

    1. Thank you very much Nyxie. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m virtually sending you a pinch of courage right now because it’s never too late to start a new adventure 🙂

  11. That sounds like a great idea to try and looks like you had a wonderful time on your journey as well. I’ve always wanted to try living outside my country and experience tons of new things.

    1. Thanks Lyanna. It wasn’t always easy but it was worth it. I hope you will have the chance to live abroad and collect a lot of cool memories.

  12. Thank you Mary! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but I tried to follow my dreams and they were just bigger than my fears 🙂

    1. Thanks Dave. Those days when somebody said, “I’m going to the loo” and I had no idea what “loo” was. 🙂 I wrote in the article that I often associate new foreign words with a place, color or person. It’s funny but I associate that pub we met in (maybe also you 🙂 ) with the word “loo.”

  13. Thank you Ryan. Make sure to give it a go at least once. It’s an amazing experience that will stay with you forever.

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