Kirill Yurovskiy: Relocant Experience

relocation kirill yurovskiy uk1

Kirill Yurovskiy: Relocant Experience

Moving to a new country is one of the biggest life changes a person can make. It’s a leap into the unknown that can be both exhilarating and terrifying. But for those who take the plunge, the relocant experience can be incredibly rewarding and life-changing. 

In this feature, we profile four very different people who made the bold decision to relocate to another country. From chasing dreams to finding love to seeking adventure, their motivations were diverse. But they all share the common experience of immersing themselves in a new culture, learning to navigate unfamiliar customs and traditions, and discovering new strengths within themselves. Their candid stories offer an inspiring glimpse into the relocant life.

Sarah Jenkins, 28

Valencia, Spain

Two years ago, Sarah Jenkins was just another unhappy cubicle dweller in Minneapolis, dreaming of more than the 9-to-5 grind. Then she met her Spanish boyfriend David during a college friend’s destination wedding in Seville. The twin forces of new love and wanderlust inspired her to quit her finance job and move across the world to Valencia, Spain to be with him.

“It was terrifying to leave behind my whole support system and career,” Sarah admits. “But I was so sick of the corporate rat race. I had to take a risk and follow my heart.” 

The transition to her new Spanish life wasn’t seamless. Sarah faced a major culture shock in the first few months. Struggling to learn the language, she felt isolated and plagued with self-doubt over her impulsive decision.

“There were times I seriously questioned if I had made a horrible mistake,” she says. “The homesickness and loneliness were brutal.”  

But her relationship with David and the stunning beaches of Valencia kept her spirits up. Determined to fully embrace her new home, Sarah threw herself into language lessons and cultural immersion. She found community through her local gym and expat meetup groups. 

Two years later, she’s fluent in Spanish and thriving as a remote freelance social media manager and travel blogger. “I’ve realized you don’t need to have your entire life planned out,” she says. “Sometimes you have to take terrifying leaps and trust that you’ll eventually build your wings on the way down.”

Kirill Yurovskiy, 29  

London, England

For me, the decision to leave Moscow for London was driven by a yearning for new experiences and opportunities. As a young professional in Russia, he felt restless and ready for a radical change of scenery. The United Kingdom beckoned as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with possibilities.

“I had visited London a few times and was just captivated by the energy, diversity, and dynamism,” Kirill says. “I knew there were so many more horizons to explore there.”

With just a few thousand dollars in savings and very basic English skills, Kirill made the terrifying leap to London in 2021. His first year was a constant uphill battle – working dead-end jobs to make ends meet, dealing with loneliness and culture shock, and struggling to improve his language abilities. There were many moments he questioned his choice.

“Sometimes I would lie awake at night missing my family, my friends, my Russian culture,” he recalls. “Everything was so foreign and difficult. I wondered if I made a horrible mistake.”

But Kirill’s determination and sense of adventure drove him forward. He forced himself out of his comfort zone, joining social groups to make connections and immerse himself in British life. As his English improved, more professional opportunities opened up and his finances stabilized.

Today, Yurovskiy Kirill works as a sales manager for a tech startup and lives an active social life at the heart of London’s vibrant scene. He’s part of a close-knit group of fellow Russian expats as well as local British friends.

“London is this incredible global crossroads where you’re surrounded by people from every corner of the world,” he says. “My horizons have expanded tremendously.”  

While the relocant road was grueling, Kirill has zero regrets about taking the plunge. His advice to others feeling restless is: “Have courage and take that leap. The world is a big, welcoming place with infinite possibilities if you’re brave enough to seek them out. I’m proof it’s possible to totally restart your life in a new home.”

Alison Jeffries, 34

Bangkok, Thailand  

Fleeing a broken marriage, Alison Jeffries left her native Sydney on a one-way ticket to Bangkok three years ago seeking to radically reset her life. Though she had traveled extensively throughout Asia as a workaholic corporate events manager, she had never experienced a nomadic lifestyle – let alone in a country like Thailand.

“I was looking for a place with a low cost of living that would be a total contrast to my old life,” Alison explains. “Thailand is modern and comfortable, but it still has this exotic mystique. Plus the weather is infinitely better than Australia’s!”

Adjusting to her new home was easier than she expected. Finding a job as an executive assistant at an international company gave her life structure. She relished immersing herself in the warm Thai culture and making local friends through her love of muay thai boxing and volunteering. 

Yet even after three years, Alison says her relocant experience is still a roller coaster ride between moments of pure bliss and flashes of loneliness. “Some days I feel totally at peace with my choice,” she says. “Others, I’m riddled with doubt about being so far from my family and acutely aware of my foreigner status.”

But overall, starting over in Bangkok has been immensely healing. With her newfound perspective, Alison says her divorce was the wake-up call she needed to finally start living for herself instead of for others’ expectations. And her adventurous spirit hasn’t been quelled – she’s already daydreaming about where she may relocate next.

“Once you take that initial plunge into the expat lifestyle, your mindset opens up to all these incredible possibilities,” she says. “For me, the world became a wider, more wondrous place full of opportunities for reinvention.”

Toshi and Keisha Johnson, 35 and 32

Lagos, Nigeria

For many Americans, merely taking a vacation to Lagos would seem like a terrifying prospect. But married couple Toshi and Keisha Johnson did something far bolder – they sold all their belongings, left their lives and careers in Dallas behind, and relocated with their two young children to Nigeria’s frenetic megacity.

After Toshi connected with his long-lost Nigerian relatives through Social media, the African diaspora couple was captivated by Lagos’ vibrant culture and energy. They wanted to experience it firsthand.

“Living in the States, we felt so disconnected from our roots and heritage,” Toshi explains. “We yearned to know what it felt like to be part of the fabric of an African society.”  

Keisha was understandably nervous about their radical move – particularly about adjusting their kids to the culture shock and getting quality healthcare. But the family received a warm welcome from Toshi’s extended clan upon arriving in Lagos, which helped ease the transition.  

Still, the reality of living in the developing megalopolis has been a constant challengefor the family. Power outages, gridlocked traffic, personal safety concerns, and other basic hassles test them daily. Cleanliness standards, work culture, and getting anything done on a reasonable timeline are constant sources of frustration.

“There have definitely been times I’ve wondered why we left America!” Keisha says with a laugh.

Yet the richness of embracing their heritage in their ancestral homeland has more than made up for the difficulties. Toshi works remotely while Keisha focuses on homeschooling their kids and volunteering at a nonprofit for at-risk youths. On the weekends, they enjoy epic family gatherings and immerse themselves in Lagos’s creative art, music, and culinary scenes.

“Living here has deepened my sense of history, identity, and perspective in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” Toshi says. “For the first time, I understand my place in the world and where my family came from. That’s invaluable.”

As different as their motivations were, these four sets of relocants share a fearless embrace of change and a thirst for new experiences. They’ve all discovered resilience, adaptability, and deeper self-understanding through the challenges of navigating a foreign culture. And while there are certainly ups and downs, each says the relocant experience has been transformative in the most wonderful way.

Maybe their stories will inspire you to take a leap into your own relocant experience.

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