Were it up to me, I’d still be there. I wanted to get extra professional experience, dual citizenship, extra chances to travel, and a new life. I wanted things to end on my terms; I wanted to leave when I was ready. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I lost almost everything; my dream went down the drain. I came back to the United States with only a few suitcases holding a bit of clothing, a few books, and a few treasured items. Meanwhile, those that fucked up my dream continue on as if nothing happened.
I was ashamed because even though it wasn’t my fault, I came home with nothing to show for my time there (or that’s how it seems). I came home to couchsurfing, no job in sight, and very little support – family included. I lost a lot (and gained nothing but pounds). Family turned on me. Friends – scarce. And retelling my story over again – not an option. I have to live it and that’s painful enough, so why the hell would I want to repeat it?
1 year ago today marked the end of an era, the end of my dream as I had it planned and hoped it’d turn out. It’s still a bit painful, still bittersweet. I miss traveling. I miss my Meetup groups and the experiences that came along with them. I missed living abroad. I experience nostalgia sometimes, and I miss the few dear friends I made, so much. I miss what could’ve and should’ve been.
But maybe… just maybe… the end was the beginning of a new part of my life journey. Only time will tell. And as far as that country, I’m not yet done with it. I still have unfinished business there to handle, and most importantly, I still have a few dear friends there.
I needed to get this out. Thanks for reading/listening. And please stay tuned; I still have a long road ahead.
I’m feeling: okay. This past week was a little better than the last. I’ve made peace with one or two things, and I’m treading softly at work.
I’m listening to: the TV – Lockup: Raw. My uncle & aunt laughing.
I’m thinking: I need to go to the laundromat. I want to get my hair done. I want to go to a spa for at least half-day; how to fit it in is the challenge. I have to get ready for the upcoming work week. I hope that my friend visiting the United Kingdom remembers to bring back some tea for me (but I’ll understand if she forgets for obvious reasons). I’m not sure what’s gonna happen after my supervisor leaves in a few days, and that mightn’t be a good thing. I’m kinda surprised that I’m still getting calls to work back in England. I’d consider returning to England if the price is right and the opportunities to advance are on par with what I’d expect here. I don’t have much faith that England could offer me those things, though, so there that goes. I need to book a ticket to return because I have unfinished business to handle over there.
I’m reading: nothing. I may have to wait until July to get the Kindle; something unexpected came up this past week. My supervisor did, however, give me 2 books to read that have to do with my profession, so I may start reading one of them.
I’m looking forward to: seeing my stepmother & sister out-of-state; haven’t seen them since before moving to England. Getting behind the wheel of a car (just for a couple of days) for the first time in over a year and a half. Taking (what I think is a free trial) Krav Maga class, with the option to continue if it’s affordable. Working out at Planet Fitness.
I’m learning that: too many people pass the buck to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Too many people (especially those in power) want to control others and cross others’ boundaries, but are adamant about anyone controlling them and crossing their boundaries. (These are observations from the workplace, but the observations can also apply outside of work.) Some people are in my life for a reason and a season. Sometimes, it’s not me, it’s you.
I’m creating: a healthier body (hopefully). A new & improved life in the long run (hopefully).
I’m grateful for: my uncle reaching a milestone birthday this weekend. My sister reaching her birthday the other day. Getting through another kickboxing class without as much soreness as the first time, which hopefully means that my body is getting used to it.
Around the house are: uncle’s plants. Blowing fans. Laundry ready for the laundromat.
In the kitchen: some fruits & vegetables from the farmers’ market, ready for cooking and/or juicing. Uncle’s ice cream cake. Iced tea.
I’m planning this week to: follow-up with the doctor’s office. Cook once or twice. Take Krav Maga class. Try fitting in a kickboxing class before going out-of-state at the end of the week. Go to Planet Fitness. Focus on eating healthy at my stepmother’s barbecue. :-|
My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: “Creating ways to be happy is your life’s work, a challenge that won’t end until you die.” –Martha Beck (Wikipedia)
I’m feeling: under the weather. Damn blasted allergies. :-|
I’m listening to: myself typing on this keyboard, along with silence. Aunt is taking a nap, uncle is outside doing who knows what, and I’m recovering from exercising and a night out.
I’m thinking: when aunt wakes up and we go run errands, I need to get some extra-strength allergy medicine. :-|
I’m reading: same as last week. Hoping to get a Kindle some time next month.
I’m looking forward to: the upcoming long weekend (Memorial Day). Dinner with (ex) stepfather this week (he had a family emergency last week, so we postponed). One of our staff members returning to work from knee surgery so that my load is lightened a bit. (I’m also glad, of course, that the staff member is recovering well.)
I’m learning: that I can’t make a person change; one must want change for oneself. It sucks feeling helpless about it, but I can’t do anything to change another. That I may have a few extra opportunities to advance my career, thanks to hearing things confirmed through the grapevine. That even though recruitment agencies from England keep contacting me, not a damn thing has changed with their social services system. (One borough wants to interview me when they come to New York City next month, but I’m extremely ambivalent about returning there for many reasons. Here’s one of the reasons why.)
I’m enjoying: being “in the know” just a little when it comes to some things at work. I appreciate being valued by a job and knowing a few inner workings of upper management. I don’t know what the future holds, but if nothing else, this job is definitely a learning experience.
I’m creating: dinner tonight, and they better eat every bite. :-|
I’m grateful for: getting to celebrate my good friend’s milestone birthday last night. Seeing a few people at the gathering who I’ve not seen in as little as a few years and as much as double-digit years. Lots of laughter. Being mindful of what I ate and not going overboard (healthy living can be hard – but not impossible – sometimes). Enjoying Reese’s peanut butter cups and still not going overboard. Allowing myself exercise breaks when needed, like today. My (ex) stepmother graduating with her Master’s of Social Work yesterday; I’m so happy for her, and I hope that I helped her even 1% with my advice. I couldn’t attend the graduation, but I’ll see her and my youngest sister at her celebration next month. :-)
Around the house are: weekly groceries to be put away. New laundry to be put away.
In the kitchen: dinner food in the refrigerator, waiting to be cooked later. Dishes in the sink that aunt is complaining about even though I told her I’ll wash ‘em after I finish cooking. :-| Food to be prepped for the rest of the week; always better to get it out of the way now when I have time. :-|
I’m planning this week to: schedule a doctor’s appointment for the first time since returning to the U.S.; I won’t bore anyone with my gripes about the healthcare system. Cook once or twice. Find out if anyone is having a Memorial Day weekend barbeque or gathering. Get a well-overdue manicure & pedicure for my upcoming trip to see my sister and a friend or two. Shampoo 9 years’ worth of dreads (D’NALI started ‘em for me 05.15.2005).
My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: It wasn’t a waste of time if you learned something.
I’m feeling: my usual tired self, as I almost always am on Mondays. For some reason, I don’t sleep well on Sundays. In spite of that, Mondays usually go by quick & smooth. Grateful to be employed again, after almost 8 months of unemployment & sheer hell. Glad that Memorial Day weekend is almost here, as it’s a national day of remembrance and a day off from work. And finally, grateful that I got to speak to my 3rd & 4th nephews yesterday; the 3rd one celebrated his birthday yesterday. :-)
I’m listening to: myself typing on this keyboard, along with silence on this floor. Everyone is either out to lunch or out doing visits. It’s a nice change of pace for an introvert like me, as I’m kept very busy here and there’s rarely a dull moment. I usually have my headphones attached to my ears no matter where I am, but for now, I’m enjoying the silence and rhythmic tapping of my keyboard.
I’m thinking: of all the work that I’ll finally get to complete. I’m also thinking of the things I have to do for work this week and having some time to catch up for once.
I’m reading: nothing now, unfortunately, unless you count keeping abreast of news & views on the internet. I’ll get back into proper reading once I get a Kindle. I love reading, and I look forward to getting back into it with something lighter than a regular book.
I’m looking forward to: having dinner with my (ex)stepfather for his birthday, which was yesterday. He has been one of the very few people who’ve helped me since everything happened to me, and I can never repay him the way I’d like, but the least I can do is go out with him for his birthday (especially since we haven’t seen each other since I began working and our schedules don’t match up). A short weekend trip later this month to see my (oldest younger) sister and a friend or two on the side.
I’m learning: boundary reinforcement. I can only take on but so much, and when I’m offered help, I should accept it more often.
I’m enjoying: learning more about healthy living since starting the journey over 1 month ago.
I’m creating: a healthier life physically and otherwise. Future opportunities to move up in my career.
I’m grateful for: not having to pay for my short weekend trip to see my sister. Employment. Rebuilding, very slowly but surely. Being able to help others going through hardships, this time with a lens of having experienced similar situations. The very few who’ve stuck with me through all of this. The ability to create my own family because blood isn’t thicker than water in some cases.
Around the house are: laundry to be put away. Goodness knows what else. No problem, though – the house is in good overall condition, and I’m just glad for the unconditional love that my aunt & uncle extended to me.
In my kitchen: my aunt is making ribs (now at work, but she already planned this). I’ll eat ‘em sparingly since I’m on a healthy living journey.
I’m planning later in the coming week to: look at getting short-sleeved shirts since it’s getting warmer. See my (ex)stepfather. Attend my good friend’s milestone birthday gathering.
My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: Little by little, step by step, day by day.
After giving this some thought recently, and after reviewing the requirements for a work visa application, I’ve decided to stop looking for employment opportunities in the United Kingdom.
The visa application website requires potential applicants to qualify for a certain amount of points before moving forward. I hadn’t looked at it since 2010, so I didn’t remember what the requirements were. I took the preliminary test to see if I could go ahead with the application, and I met each requirement… except the sponsorship part. Therefore, I couldn’t go ahead with the application.
I don’t think it’s too difficult to get sponsorship in my profession from employers over there. What is difficult, however, is finding a reputable recruiter/recruiting agency to find a decent employer willing to offer sponsorship. Unfortunately, my experiences over the past few months led me to believe that most recruiters/recruiting agencies over there are shady. They’ve shat on me from the start, making shoddy promises and displaying a major lack of professionalism. Here are 2 examples of their “professionalism”:
I am looking to see if i can find a worksponser for you in London, will keep you posted ASAP
(P.S. I copied/pasted the e-mail exactly how the recruiter sent it to me.)
(P.P.S. The e-mail subject was “.” Yes… a period – that thing with which we end sentences.
Another one never spelled my government name correctly and used smiley faces in e-mail correspondence. (And no, it wasn’t a woman.)
I got so fed up with recruiting agencies over there, I decided to change the settings on 1 employment website such that recruiters can no longer contact me. I also changed the settings on another employment website such that neither my former employer nor another shady employer – which flaked out on me 3 times – can ever contact me again. If I work over there again, it’ll be on my terms and to hell with recruiters/recruiting agencies overall.
I’m also still experiencing the negative effects of what the former employer did to me. Now don’t get me wrong… overall, my time living in the United Kingdom was alright, but the last few months of my time there – along with my current challenges – left a really bad taste in my mouth. I try not to let those months color my whole view of the country, but I admit that it’s very difficult.
Will I live/work there – or any other country outside of the United States – ever again? I don’t know. After this experience, I don’t think I want to expatriate again. (I’ll always love travelling, though – that’ll never change.) But I’m not 100% certain about this, so who knows what the future holds. I’ve applied & looked for jobs all over so I’ll go wherever the money is. And if that means leaving the country again to get back on my feet, then so be it… even if – since I know that expatriation isn’t all cupcakes & roses – I go kicking & screaming for 1-3 years. However, I’d prefer getting my life back on track here, not in another country.
When I returned to the States, the ticket was round-trip because it was cheaper than a one-way ticket, and I scheduled to return sometime in Spring 2014. I plan on changing the ticket date to later this year. (Hopefully my life will be drastically different by then.) If I still feel a certain way about the country (and it is possible that I may feel the same way in the future), I’ll cancel the ticket altogether. But I think it’d be good to see a few of my old colleagues and a couple of friends, so I’ll likely just change the date instead of cancelling altogether.
There’s a lot more, but I’m going to end here. I don’t want to pass on my doom & gloom to anyone reading this, and many things are better left unsaid (until later?). It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. I’m fat, but I’m not singing… yet.
(WARNING: the following song has curses and derogatory words)
National Blog Posting Month, also known as NaBloPoMo, is 2 days away. I never heard about this until reading the post that I’m reblogging. I have neither the dedication nor the material needed to participate, but if any of you are interested, check it out.
One of the things I’d like to do more of is write. I have heard about NaNoWriMo but it came around once a year in November, and I always learn about it too late! Well, I recently learned about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), and I’ve decided to participate and write a blog post each weekday. I’m participating via BlogHer though I don’t think I will blog based on the theme, which is Perspective.
If you’re also interested in blogging more, and want to participate in NaBloPoMo, you can sign up here. For inspiration, you can check out their daily prompts for this month.
It usually amazes me when someone from here tells me that I’ve visited places here that they’ve never visited before… and they’ve lived here all or most of their lives (!!!). Here’s a short & simple guide for those of you who don’t explore your own hometowns. You may think your hometown is boring or worthless or useless, but maybe if you take on these simple suggestions, you’ll re-discover your city in a new light.
1. See the classics, the trademarks, the shining emblems of what makes your city yours.
Don’t be afraid to be a tourist now and again. It’s funny how we get so caught up in wanting to prove that we are natives, that we belong, that many of us go our whole lives without ever seeing the statue of liberty when we live only a few minutes away.
2. If you don’t live in the crux of the city, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pretend you do for a day, and do as the locals do.
Eat like a local. Shop like one too. Consumerism can get the best of us all, so you have to remember that there are always fantastic little spots tucked away in secret if only you take a little time to look. When I was growing up, I used to tell my parents…
6. There are a few enlightened Caucasians in the world who fully acknowledge systemic & institutionalized (or overt) racism/prejudice.“What do you mean?”, you say. Follow me for a moment:
As a person of color growing up in the most racist country on the planet (based on my personal experiences travelling and living abroad), everyday life is often colored by, and viewed through the lens of, race. Honest conversations about race & privilege – historical, current, and future – are rare in the United States. Conversations about race (and sometimes privilege) usually turn ugly and more often than not, those in the majority (or those who identify more with the majority) don’t understand where people of color are coming from. (Some don’t care to understand, but that’s another topic for another day.) I admit that when I first arrived here, one of the first things I asked my colleagues of color was “So… how racist are the White people here?” I admit that because I’m willing to look back, personally and for this blog’s purposes, and see how presumptuous that question was. But understand that coming from where I’m from, race & privilege are part of our daily lives.
I’ve been very lucky to work with, and meet, non-American white people who are open to these sorts of conversations and have them in a frank, honest & calm way. I’m not saying that there aren’t racists or racism in this country. As a matter-of-fact, stop-and-search (as it’s called in the United Kingdom, like stop-and-frisk in the U.S.) and outright racism especially in suburban & rural areas are just two of a few problems in this country when it comes to Black and minority ethnic groups. I’m saying that I have been lucky to work with & meet British (and other non-American) white people who are more open to discussing these issues. It is refreshing, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m ambivalent about returning to the U.S. for good – the United Kingdom is the lesser of 2 evils for now.
7. Contrary to popular belief, the United Kingdom – like the rest of Europe – is not a (socialist and/or liberal) utopia. As a matter-of-fact, with the recent benefits reforms and other changes now afoot, the United Kingdom is looking more like the U.S. as time goes on.
8. I appreciate having access to universal health care. There are some in the business classes who want to privatize the NHS (Wikipedia), and while it isn’t perfect (what health care system is?), I prefer it over U.S. health care. Health care is a right, in my opinion, and shouldn’t be a privilege. It’s a shame that those in the business classes want to take that away from people.
9. British humor is different from American humor. It’ll still take me some time to fully understand it, but the little I understand so far is pretty damn funny.
10. Aside from tea, which I’ve always loved, I now like a few different foods and/or food combinations. I like chutney on sandwiches, digestives (even better with chocolate), condensed milk in my tea, and my renewed love of bacon. Now granted, I need to cut it out because I’m not in the best of health :-|, but those are just a few things I’m now used to.
Consider this part 2. I think I have enough for a (last?) part 3; I could do more parts, but I don’t want to bore anyone. To be continued…
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…
Moved from the United States to the United Kingdom… and back to the United States. Currently in long-term limbo. My good, bad & ugly experiences as an expatriate and possible permanent repatriate (who'll continue traveling no matter what).