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RETURN TO BLOG Posted 17 March 2021

Tips for Moving Away From Home

By Claudia Dean

Many dancers dream about moving away from home to receive professional training or even to pursue a professional career. When the opportunity avails, it can be a very exciting and daunting time. It can be hard to imagine what it will be like to live away from your home to explore these new opportunities. To help you prepare for this new adventure, I’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourself, as well as things you should consider when making your decision.

First of all, take some time to write down everything that comes to mind when you think of moving away from home to study dance or join a company. This could be: 

  • What goals do you want to achieve?

  • Which schools do you think would best suit your needs? 

  • What makes you excited about going to this particular school or company?

  • How far away are you ready to move? 

  • What are you unsure of?

  • What are you excited about?

By putting pen to paper, you will be able to understand more clearly what you are looking for, how you feel and if you are prepared to take the leap!

When you move away from home, it's critical to dig deep within yourself & be realistic about the pros & cons involved. Take the time to discuss your plans and options with your family, dance teachers, academic teachers or coaches because the more opinions/advice you get, the more prepared you will be.

Before I moved overseas to the Royal Ballet School, I got in touch with dancers in the school and gathered information about living, homesickness & about the school. If you have someone who is already living the journey you are about to step into, you can source advice and be even more prepared. Ask them questions like: 

  • Which areas would they recommend you live in?

  • Once you arrive is there anything urgent you should get prior to starting at your school/company?

  • Where is the closest dance shop to get all your dance supplies?

  • What is the school schedule like?

  • Are they enjoying it so far?

  • Pros & cons of attending that particular school/company? 

  • What do they do about transport each day?

  • What are the living conditions like? 

Finding out this information will ease your doubts & what seems forgein, will soon become familiar. I would also recommend trialing the school & country prior to making the big move. This will confirm it it’s the right fit for what you need in your career!

Homesickness is inevitable when moving away from the people you love most & comfort zone= your home. It is normal to feel homesick and just remember it will come in different times and stages. When you are feeling this way, know that this feeling will pass & it is important to remind yourself of why you have taken this huge step to further your career. 

Good things often come with sacrifice, so remember you are learning a very valuable skill when you move away from home, and that is independence! This skill will benefit you throughout your adult life & figuring out how to take care of yourself without your parents nearby is a positive learning curve. 

Before you leave, it will be important for you to answer these questions for yourself & find out the following too:

  • Do you feel comfortable following a set schedule?

  • Will you be fine with sharing a room with someone else? 

  • What about living in a dormitory - how will you handle bedtimes, cleanliness, socializing?

Along with juggling a busy dance and academic schedule or the workload of a company dancer, you will now need to take responsibility for everyday tasks such as cleaning your room or apartment, doing your laundry, getting groceries and cooking as well as staying of top of “life admin”.

You want to make sure you feel ready to take on these challenges and know you have support if things get a little tough.

Learning to cope with being away from home, adjusting to a different culture and figuring out a whole new school or workplace can be a little hard at times. Scheduling time to catch up with family and friends, knowing when you will next see them and creating a support network at your new school or company (friends, dorm parents, teachers and staff) is absolutely vital to enjoying your time away from home! Normalising life outside of school or work is also essential - what activities can you enjoy in your spare time with your new friends? 

When the opportunity arises to attend the school or possibly even join the company of your dreams, take as much time as you need to consider every aspect of your life, before you make your decision. 

In order to make the most of this chance, you need to be emotionally ready to take on this challenge and leave behind what is familiar, to create the future you want. It will always be daunting, but your gut will tell you if the time is right!

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