Has Living Abroad Ruined My Travel Experience?

When I was 19, I visited Berlin. It was one of the first times I visited Europe. I remember I loved every moment of my trip and thought Berlin was such a pretty city. I loved the architecture, the streets, the shopping, and the nightlife.

Fast forward to 2017: I am now 26 years old and have now had the chance to live
in NY, Lille (France), and London. I have also traveled extensively around Europe while I was living there and have visited many different amazing cities.

I decided to visit Berlin again. However, the second time around Berlin has disappointed me.

While I appreciated the history of the city, I did not like it. I didn’t think the architecture was pretty, I thought the streets were ugly, and I despised the fact that there is graffiti pretty much everywhere you look, even the shopping was no interest to me.

Berlin

Berlin

Sure, I thought the Berlin Cathedral was gorgeous, but anywhere else looked too plain to me or just like a mess.

Berlin

What went wrong?

At the time, I could not point that out. It was only after going back home and reflecting on my trip I’ve realized that living abroad most recently in such a beautiful city such as London has set the bar high and excitement of travel to other cities somewhat pales into comparison.

Moving abroad is an enriching experience which has taught me so much.

But is it possible that being an expat has ruined my travel experiences?

Yes, it did ruined my experience in Berlin.

Certainly, this is not the case for every place I visit since there are many beautiful unique places that I appreciate. But it was definitely the case for a city like Berlin which just couldn’t hold its own against the other amazing European destinations I’ve seen.

Living in London meant that every day I was surrounded by the most stunning old buildings, endless options, I shopped in Harrods (which I consider to be the most luxurious shopping center in the world), I ate in some of the best restaurants (cheap and expensive), and experienced the exclusive nightlife. I was exposed to the best of the best. When this is your norm, you definitely get used to it and your expectations become higher.

I didn’t like Berlin like I did the first time I visited because I came with higher expectations.

The first time I visited, I was just glad to be in Europe. However, living abroad and experiencing the things I’ve experienced, made me look at the world through more critical eyes. I started noticing the details and unconsciously making comparisons in mind. It is also safe to say that I was more aware of my surroundings.

For example, since I can shop in London anytime I want, shopping in Berlin has become less appealing, or even unnecessary because you can more or less find the same brands in both cities. London to me has the best shopping experience in the world, and equal to New York. That is why I don’t need to go shopping when I’m traveling.

This is actually making sense.

Expats look at traveling though different eyes. My perspective on destinations has changed.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited from traveling to new places, but not EVERY place is going to be exciting for me.

Being an expat has helped me develop a “taste” of preferred type of destinations. It helped me appreciate places that are really worth appreciating, while also lowered my appreciation towards destinations that are less my personal style.

So, to answer the question of the title, living abroad hasn’t ruined my excitment of traveling, but it certainly limited my enthusiasm and made my preferences more refined.

Would love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Leave your opinion in the comments below.

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46 Comments

  1. March 7, 2017 / 4:35 PM

    I believe that there are something called \\”home blindness\\” which applies on pretty much everyone, no matter if we have lived abroad or only in our home village for our whole lives. When we are used to something, either we love it or hate it for the overall picture: amazing or awful. If we are used to traveling, that might contribute to a home blindness against things that are similar to things we have already seen or experienced before.www.miraaksoy.com

    • Fashion Matters
      March 8, 2017 / 10:28 AM

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts x

  2. March 7, 2017 / 4:59 PM

    Totally fair to learn which cities you like and don’t like! New follower 🙂
    xo Annie
    New England Romance

  3. March 7, 2017 / 6:07 PM

    I think the same thing happens with other things as well. The more you do something the more you explore what you like and the more than initial excitement faces. Great post!

    Vanessa x | http://www.springlilies.com

    • Fashion Matters
      March 8, 2017 / 10:29 AM

      that’s an interesting perspective 🙂

  4. March 7, 2017 / 10:09 PM

    You know I completely agree with you – I have been fortunate enough to have lived in 7 countries now and have travelled a lot! I try to stay humble though and see the beauty in everything although I went to Madrid a few weekends ago and couldn’t help but notice how “dissapointed” I was because it just didn’t measure up to Paris. Silly I know!! xx

    http://www.diaryofanexpatgirl.com

    • Fashion Matters
      March 8, 2017 / 10:30 AM

      WOW I actually also had the same feeling about Madrid!
      Glad to know I’m not the only one 🙂

  5. March 8, 2017 / 2:16 AM

    Berlin is definitely an interesting city (especially compared to other “prettier” European cities), so I can totally see why it would be underwhelming for you. Berlin definitely wasn’t my favorite city I’ve ever visited either, but I really did love the history of the city!

    http://thecourtneydiaries.com

    • Fashion Matters
      March 8, 2017 / 10:32 AM

      Being Jewish, I could definitely appreciate the history and became emotional but my thoughts here were more about how the city looks like.

  6. March 8, 2017 / 9:27 AM

    I’m currently living abroad (Brit living in Australia) so I found this post particularly interesting, I’m intrigued to see if I experience a similar feeling when I travel elsewhere in the future!

    SHAKIRA / SHAKIRA SACKS

    • Fashion Matters
      March 8, 2017 / 10:32 AM

      Great! keep me updated and enjoy Australia :))

  7. March 8, 2017 / 3:13 PM

    This is such an interesting post! I had never thought about it this way. As someone who potentially wants to live abroad, I feel like this was a good read and good prep.nolongergrey.com

  8. March 8, 2017 / 3:31 PM

    I truly believe in what you are saying. I used to find certain things cute and quaint when I visited but as you live in an area for a prolonged period of time, you tend to see things a lot different. Great post, have a great day!xo,I AM YASMIN

  9. Suze - Luxury Columnist
    March 8, 2017 / 3:54 PM

    What an interesting post! It’s true that London is a tough act to follow and I’m always glad to return but I also enjoy visiting more nitty gritty places as a bit of a contrast

  10. March 8, 2017 / 8:35 PM

    I feel related to what you say. When I started travelling every place felt special, now I find it harder and harder to fall in love with a city/country because I’ve seen so many things. But my love for travelling hasn’t diminished. It’s still my favorite past-time!

  11. March 8, 2017 / 8:40 PM

    I love traveling and I have lived in different places in Europe and also in Turkey. Its definetly changed how I look places I go. My favorite city I have been so far is Rome x

    Laura
    Pink Frenzy

  12. Heidi
    March 8, 2017 / 11:31 PM

    I can understand why you would want to be a homebody for a while, but you will be so happy to have had these experiences!

    Heidi || Wishes & Reality

  13. March 9, 2017 / 11:51 AM

    Comparison while traveling is the worst thing one can do. I know, sometimes it´s quite difficult not to compare countries, cities, places, but it ruins every impression from the place. The most important thing for me while traveling, it the atmosphere of the place, its culture, its people. It makes everything much easier and I enjoy every place I visit. XODariahttp://www.dbkstylez.com

  14. March 9, 2017 / 4:33 PM

    This was interesting to read. I didn’t realize that after traveling, thoughts about a city can change. Definitely learned something!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

  15. Amy
    March 9, 2017 / 5:43 PM

    I haven’t traveled to Europe (I want to so badly) much less lived there. Thanks for sharing.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  16. March 9, 2017 / 6:36 PM

    I totally get where you are coming from. The first place we ever visit is always a magical experience because it’s so new so that why you put those expectations up there. I did the same thing with Mexico. It was my first time out of the US and when I went back it wasn’t the same amazing experience. Your travels have been amazing. Love these pics!

    http://www.kathrineeldridge.com

  17. March 9, 2017 / 8:17 PM

    I see what you’re talking about, I lived abroad however I’ve never been disappointed to come back but so nostalgic! Great post!

    http://violettedaily.com

  18. Siffat Haider
    March 9, 2017 / 11:04 PM

    So I’m originally from Toronto and I also lived in London – I went there for fashion school. However, I don’t think my time in London ruined traveling for me. I went to Berlin after moving away from London, and I just think they were two totally different experiences. Loved hearing your thoughts though!
    xo
    Siffat
    http://icingandglitter.com

  19. March 10, 2017 / 3:17 AM

    I definitely fell identified with what you’re saying. I grew up in Mexico in some of the cities with the most beautiful colonial architecture / cathedrals, and when I went to europe at 15 , sure I was excited and I enjoyed it a lot but nothing Impressed me. Now I live in Chicago, and when I first moved I wanted to be in downtown all the time and I could just stare at the buldings and going to the stores all the time. Now those buildings became just another part of my surroundings like a sidewalk or a street light, and I’m craving a little bit of old architecture. Funny how the place you live totally changes your perspective of things
    x,abril
    The Color Palette

  20. Miri
    March 10, 2017 / 7:45 AM

    Thank you for sharing your opinion, sweetie. I think that you are right. There are places that I visited and would never want to live there. And there are places that I visited and would love to spend more time there (like India).
    X
    Miri

    http://currentlywearing.com

  21. March 10, 2017 / 4:20 PM

    Such an interesting post! If anything, it’s almost a good thing you didn’t like Berlin the second time around! I guess that means you understand the city, and what you like and don’t like about it. As opposed to coming in as a starry eyed visitor who fell in love with everything. You know?

    Thanks for sharing
    xx
    http://thedemeler.com

  22. March 10, 2017 / 5:35 PM

    I can totally relate! Sometimes a revisit can disappoint esp as you get older! Berlin is an interesting city tho — but I agree, tons of graffiti everywhere.
    Have a wonderful weekend, love!
    xoxo, Vanessa
    http://www.WhatWouldVWear.com

  23. March 11, 2017 / 8:26 AM

    I think the longer you live in Europe, the less you become impressed. I remember my first experiences travelling in Europe – I was amazed by everything. Since November, I live in Europe, and now I’m less impressed. It doesn’t mean I don’t find it pretty anymore, but it takes me way more to be impressed. But, the more you travel, the more you’ll have to deal with that. It’s so easy to compare with other places, other experiences!

  24. March 11, 2017 / 9:10 AM

    I agree that living abroad can change you but have experienced kinda the opposite. Right now I live in Niamey, Niger, teaching at an international school. And living here, in one of the poorest countries in the world, has made me appreciate traveling so much more. It’s made me see the beauty in things I may not have thought of before. It’s made me appreciate the food I eat everywhere else, cause it’s limited here. It’s made me appreciate anywhere with a body of water, as we are landlocked and the river here isn’t exactly ideal for much.

    • Fashion Matters
      March 11, 2017 / 2:21 PM

      Oh I can relate to this. I visited Africa recently and it made me appreciate my home so much!

  25. March 11, 2017 / 9:15 AM

    Some cities feel like home, others just don’t. You will be so happy to have had these experiences!

    Natalie
    you will be so happy to have had these experiences!

  26. March 11, 2017 / 11:41 AM

    Well I think that makes sense indeed. It’s like using a cheap eyeshadow palette after spending an entire life wearing a high quality one 🙂
    LA VEINE

  27. March 12, 2017 / 2:28 PM

    Amazing photos dear <33

  28. Lola
    March 12, 2017 / 3:17 PM

    great!
    NEW BLOG ! please follow me : YOUNG BLOG

  29. March 12, 2017 / 6:33 PM

    Interesting post! I can somewhat relate, I lived in England (Leeds specifically) for a year. Though I’m not terribly fond of Leeds, I love the UK and still hope one day to move to London! I love traveling in Europe too!

    Cheers,
    Stephanie
    http://dotsandhoney.com

  30. March 12, 2017 / 9:47 PM

    Good point! When you travel long term (or live abroad) you no longer get those travel jitters that make everything more exciting and sometimes blind you to the negative aspects of a city.
    I can definitely relate even though I have not yet traveled long term

  31. March 19, 2017 / 10:56 PM

    Interesting thoughts, I have done my bit of travelling and living abroad, and for me it was the complete opposite. After one year in the north of France, I came back to Madrid where I was a college student and my eyes had broadened. I could see and appreciate things I was not able to when taking the city for granted… It is true that not all the cities have the same vibes, so you cannot go with the same expectations to all of them, but something that always works is visiting with a local person that can show you the hidden gems of the city 😉

    Hope you have a great week!


    Saida | She talks Glam

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