The extreme highs and lows of expat life are a cliché that for me holds very true. What were once simple daily tasks in the states are now projects (both small and large) requiring research and yielding mixed results. It is not a given that the local shop will have the ingredients you require to make your favorite recipes, nor will your oven/stove necessarily cooperate with your dinner plans. It took a while to determine which shops I needed to visit to purchase certain items, since there was no local Target I could make a quick run to. (Yes, there is an Argos/Asda/Tesco but it’s a half hour drive!) It is a huge disappointment when the washing gets rained on while it is out on the line (we have no dryer, which is something I do miss quite a bit) and I’m not sure I’ll ever consistently remember to turn on the switches next to the wall sockets. These small things, though minor, do make me homesick and frustrated at times.
Of course the converse of all this is that the wins are so much sweeter! When we made quesadillas, and they tasted just like they would have at home in the states I was ecstatic! When I found the brand of body wash I like to use and it wasn’t sold for some ridiculous import price, it was pretty awesome.
It has now been over a month since I moved to my new home in the UK. Sometimes I still can’t believe we really are here and that this is our new life, not some bizarre never ending vacation. When we were first considering the move, I researched and read as much as I could, blogs, the UKBA website, protocol for bringing pets over, job descriptions and prospects… I wanted to learn as much as I could to make the best decision possible. Most things though, you need to learn by doing them yourself. What is best for other people, or what other people have been doing for years may not be the most effective way for you.
The thing I’ve found hardest to accept is that I can’t expect my life here to pick up where my American life left off. I need to work hard to make new friends, and I can’t expect the next step in my career to fall in my lap. It’s more of an effort to stay in touch with friends and family back home. The handful of job rejections I’ve received has been painful, but the successful interviews (and hopefully offers!) outweigh them and feel like a real triumph. So it’s getting there, slowly but surely.
What did you struggle with when adjusting to expat life? What things from home are the hardest to live without?