3 years (part 1).

Time flies when you’re having fun.

3 years ago (06.28.2010), I landed in the United Kingdom as a new expatriate (after a few road bumps). I dreamt of living abroad ever since childhood, when I’d look at my atlas for hours at a time. I’d daydream about the places I wanted to see, envision where I’d live one day. (For many years as a kid, I wanted to live in Nauru or a remote place like it.) I had child-like fantasies of meeting my pen pals – one in France, one in Germany, one in Ghana, and one in Guyana. But at the end of the day, I always thought this was it – just daydreaming. I thought it was impossible never thought it’d come true, but sure enough, it did. Even now sometimes, I think to myself

I can’t believe I live in another country. WTF was I thinking? Will I ever do this again? Even after all this time, it’s still so surreal.

I blogged very briefly on the 1st anniversary of my move, but never made time to write anything for the 2nd anniversary. Now that I’ve been here long enough to feel a bit settled in, this post will be more “meat & potatoes”, than the 1st anniversary post. (Depending on how long it is, I may break it up into a couple of posts.)

So what have I learned so far?

1. No matter how many times they tell you, your relatives are not gonna visit you. In general they mean well, but for whatever reason(s) – no matter how many times they say it – they never make it. And with the current economic climate, it’s hard to be too angry at them about it. For example, one of my relatives wants to visit in September or October, but the cheapest ticket I found was U.S. $893.00. It’s actually cheaper for me to visit home than it is for them to visit here.

2. No matter how many times they tell you, your friends are not gonna visit you. And I don’t mean acquaintances or flaky friends either… I mean real we’ve-been-friends-for-years friends. Please see comment #1.

3. Did you have friends in your new country before moving there? Well, if you keep those friends after moving, count yourself lucky. You’ll be lucky if you see them once per year. I know someone who lives in the neighborhood next to mine. When was the last time I saw the person? 2011. I reached out countless times – phone calls, texts, e-mails – but no response, so I sadly gave up trying. I don’t stay where I’m not wanted. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only person to whom I reached out with no response. Hopefully you have good enough friends in your home country to sustain you (or be like me, join Meetup, and gain a few starter acquaintances).

4. You may not make real friends in your new country. Meetup has done a world of good for me overall; I’ve written about its positive aspects on this blog. In my experience though, it has been difficult to make real genuine friends despite trying. In the same vein…

5. You may not find romance in your new country either. I can count the number of men who’ve expressed even a bit of interest in me on 1 hand in 3 years. I’m not exaggerating, so please don’t reassure or chastise me. Goodness knows I tried putting myself out there (and those who know me well, know how difficult that is for me), but such is life. I’m used to it, and I’m over it. (I always wonder, though, how in the world people get coupled up here. Mind=boggling.)

Because I accidentally published this without finishing it, I’m gonna break this up into 2 or 3 posts. (Don’t worry… it’ll be a mix of positive & negative. I don’t wanna turn anyone off from becoming an expatriate.) Consider this part 1. To be continued…

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14 thoughts on “3 years (part 1).

  1. Congratulations on surviving the fray for 3 years. Here’s to as many more awesome years as you want to be an ex-pat.

    I get how you feel about visitors — I’ve had the same thing happen when I moved from home to the US. You’re right though — things happen and sometimes even the best of intentions don’t materialize into visits. But at least you know they love you even if they can’t visit often or at all.

  2. It is a tough one with friends and relatives visiting. I’ve been lucky enough to have my mom visit 2 years ago and have had almost all of my best friends come and visit. It is expensive but if they can save enough the memories and being able to show them your life now will be worth the memories. Happy expat-iversary!

  3. Nicky says:

    It’s a tough life … moving away from what you know and starting over totally new. I get that you aren’t bitter or being negative; I’ve experienced every single one of the “issues” you’ve listed with my move from home to the US. What I can say though … at the end of it … especially with your can do attitude, you’ll be better off for the experience. The good and the bad.

    Happy anniversary! Do something fun and commemorative. Despite what’s happening in my life at the time, I treat myself every year on the anniversary of my move to the US.

  4. Spinster, this is interesting stuff. I wonder how much of it is specific to the UK and our culture, and how much of it is the nature of living in an alien culture? I know we Brits aren’t that friendly generally speaking. Don’t forget that many people in the UK are richer for having met you and your attitudes. You are really refreshing and interesting. I’m glad you came.

    • Spinster says:

      Bless. Thank you kindly, I appreciate that. :-)

      I think it’s a bit of both regarding what you said – U.S. & UK culture. Plus, people in this specific area of the United Kingdom are quite rude in general. :-|

  5. What? They didn’t come to visit – actually same thing here….even across town ( OK “across” town is 100 miles and a couple of hours in traffic, but still…really? The road goes both ways, I can’t always drive in…whatever. Hasta)
    In any case it’s good to be self sufficient and able to amuse yourself.
    Hooray for you. You are inspiring. Congrats and may new rewarding adventures appear!

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