This is not the first time I am an expat but when I came to settle in the UK back in 2001 I had never properly settled anywhere else so it was just another place. One that I loved for sure but just another city/country. It wasn’t until I met C and his family, that we got married, bought a house and have babies that I finally felt like I had found my place, my home.
Then in August last year I left that home, happy and looking forward to new adventures but I never knew how I would tear inside and how difficult it would be to feel like an outsider everyday as you wake up. Not having the comfort of “belonging” to hang on to.
Winter was tough on me, I felt lonely and disconnected, I rejected so many things that makes the USA such an attractive place for the rest of the world. I questioned why people would want to live here, why anyone would want to leave the beauty, depth and history that Europe has to offer. I spoke with the arrogance of an expat who feels that nothing beats what she’s left behind.
It was tough and somehow it shocked me because it is so unlike me. And this country has been in my dreams for as long as I can remember. I was given the chance to make probably one of my biggest dreams a reality and yet I wasn’t happy.
They say that there are 3 phases an expat will come to face and depending on the person these phases can cover a period of 6 to 12 months.
The first one is the honeymoon period. Everything is new, we discover, we learn and we feel excited every time we discover a new aspect of living in our new country.
Then there is the rejection phase, what happened to me during winter. This is the phase when you question everything, you reject what is alien to you, you judge, you feel the burden of what you’ve lost.
And then the third and last phase, is the one when you come to accept the differences, when you make peace with the sacrifices you’ve made and when you even learn to love your new home.
For a while I doubted I would ever reach that milestone. I started worrying that I would spend years of my life yearning for a small house back in the UK while counting days. Worry that life there was better than life here and I was missing out on it. But we all know, the grass always seems greener somewhere else.
The thing is that life is not perfect wherever you are, it is what you make of it with what you have that makes it almost perfect.
Today it feels like all the knots have untied, that the jigsaw puzzle is complete, pieces have slotted into place.
The last couple of weeks the weather has been great, the gardens have sprung into amazing flowers and the warmth in the air has meant that we have spent tons of time outdoor. We have connected with our lovely neighbors and made lots of new friends. We have a summer full of plans, family visiting and friends gatherings.
We are so very lucky where we are and with what we have and I know now that our life here, for however long we are here, will be a great one. And yes there will always be things that take more time to understand or even accept, but isn’t it the same in whichever country you are, whether you were born there or not?
Here is a snapshot of April 15
It took us at least a couple of years before we stopped hating living in London! 🙂 You have done very well – you’ve survived a midwestern winter and the US has so many great places to visit, I’m sure you’ll have lots of awesome adventures in the near future!