Sunday, 4 October 2009

Home thoughts from abroad

Amazingly, I'm entering my eighth month of living here. It seems to have gone in a flash. One thing I notice about being an expat is the longer the stretch of time you have in your new country of residence, the easier it is - and conversely if you head back to your mother country for a break, it's much harder to feel settled in your new country when you get back.

I feel a bit like that this time. Our recent three weeks in the UK, whilst obviously very harrowing, were also an opportunity for us to get used to a UK way of life again. It was also very important for us both to be close to our families during this horrible time, and being so far away from them now is extremely difficult.

So, I've been thinking about the things I miss about the UK, versus the things I don't. I thought I'd make a list.

Things I miss:

1) Our families. Although having said that, we've seen a great deal of them this year with our flitting back and forth, and when they come to visit you get proper quality time with them, not just a snatched overnight stay once every few months. We didn't live very near our families in the UK either.

Naturally I miss my mum-in-law every day, but I think that would be the same wherever we lived in the world. Rest in peace, lovely mum-in-law. We miss you.

2) Green. You know, that wonderful saturated green you get in the UK - green hills, green fields, green gardens. Here, you get green parks and green plants, but the overwhelming colour is browny yellow!

3) A democracy. I miss a society where bureaucracy was transparent and everything seemed (mostly) fair. Here things are never black and white - generally various shades of grey instead.

4) Snow and ice. I love snowy days, and let's face it, we're never going to have those out here. But on the other hand, I don't really like being cold! Doh.

5) My friends at home. I miss the physical presence of friends I've known for many many years. Having said that, Skype and email are amazing tools and I feel very close to them still, and I have lots of new friends here, many of whom are becoming very great friends.

6) Drinking booze in a pub. This is a picky one I suppose, but alcohol regulations are so tight here that you can only drink alcohol in 5 star hotels, or in your own home. I miss being able to drink booze on tables outside restaurants, in parks and in pub gardens. Just a simple freedom thing I think.

7) Our cat - although he's being completely spoilt by my mum and is very, very happy with the countryside cat eutopia he currently lives in!

Things I don't miss:

1) Stress. I had no idea how stressed I was, and how my lifestyle was making me ill. I used to suffer from recurrent headaches, but I haven't had a single one since I moved here. I used to have a hellish commute into London every day to do a job that was exciting but extremely stressful and demanding - and I have to say I don't miss the way it used to make me feel. I think all of this only served to make my infertility problems worse.

2) Worries about money. The UK just seems to get more and more expensive to live in, and the salaries just aren't keeping up. When my husband was unemployed things were particularly dicey. I remember we worried about turning the heating on in our small 3 bedroom terraced house in case we couldn't afford the bill. Tesco vouchers became my best friends. I am now amazingly relieved that money is no longer our primary concern.

3) Being cold. As mentioned above, I'm not very good at being cold! Here it can be unpleasantly hot in the summer, but the autumn, winter and spring are gorgeous. There's a lot to be said for lying in the sun reading a book wearing a swimming costume in December.

4) Tax. It's really an incredible feeling to realise that everything on your pay packet goes straight into the bank!

5) The rat-race. Someone said to me today that life here just makes you slow down and appreciate things a little more, and I agree. You just can't get things done quickly here, so you have to relax a little and take things a bit more in your stride, which is good for me.

6) Never seeing my husband. Despite the fact he now flies long-haul, his roster's generally pretty good, with only 3 or 4 trips a month, and when he's home, we have quality time. Last week, for example, we got to spend a whole week together, uninterrupted.

7) Drizzle/downpours/fog and any combination of them! I'm thinking of those cold, dark, damp winter days you usually have in the UK, when it's only light between about 8am and 4pm. I don't miss those!

I'm sure there are loads more... I'll have to post again when they come to me!

If any other expat ladies read my blog - what do or don't you miss about your home country?

1 comment:

  1. You have such an interesting life experience and I love reading about it! It's starting to get cold here in Chicago and I'm already wearing my winter jacket. brr!




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