Being an expat is fun and it will not be easy to go back to my home country in a few months.
You see, being an expat is dangerous. At first, it is scary and all you want to do is go home, but soon enough you get over that homesickness and start enjoying your time overseas.
Now, I have been in the UK for 1 year and 3 months…and I don’t want to go home. Unfortunately, being a supply teacher in London is tough. I am earning just above minimum wage and can only just afford rent and food.
I moved from a boring town in Essex, where I was being paid quite well, into London as I wanted a bit more excitement. Sometimes I think “should I have moved? I was on excellent pay…” but then I remember why I left – unhappy with job and wanted a bit more out of my expat experience.
I have never, ever regretted my move to the UK and the consequent move into London.
The dangers of being an expat are:
- You are spoilt. You are now in a huge city and in a beautiful country where you can go to all these places you read about or saw in movies. Being in London, I am spoilt for choice of what to do at the weekend. One weekend I might go to Camden and another I might revisit the British Museum. It’s only now, when I’m making my plans to head home (if I had the chance to extend my visa and get a better job, I would!) that I realise just how lucky and spoilt I have been.
- People who haven’t done an OE (Overseas Experience) or been an expat never quite get it. It is like they don’t quite understand what it’s been like to be overseas for an extended period of time. Being an expat isn’t like going on holiday. You’ve made a life there, you’ve made new friends, you’ve become a different person. Talking to friends about how difficult it is to come home is tricky, since a lot of them just say…”just get on with your life” or “you’ll get over it!”. It’s not that easy!
- People get sick of your stories. Especially stories that were funny…but a ‘you had to be there’ kind of story. Or those stories that start: “When I was in Paris…”. Luckily, I have some friends who have recently moved back home so we can reminisce together.
- Life has moved on. This is something I’ve read about in other blogs. People go home expecting things to be exactly the same as it was before they left. However, that is not the case. People get over the fact that you aren’t in your home country anymore. Your friends have moved on, but then so have you. And if you can make new friends overseas then I am sure you can make new friends back home!
- You pick up slang and a bit of an accent. Despite people saying that “you can’t pick up an accent that quickly”, it is quite easy to do. I’ve spent my whole time in England, surrounded by English people…I work, live and socialise with English people…so of course I would have picked up some slang and a touch of an English accent. E.g. plonker, bellend, and the way I say dad! I am also a teacher so I have been told I must pronounce my vowels properly. I love Brit slang too, I can’t wait to get home and use it (and confuse people)!
- You become so involved in life in your adopted country. I made such an effort to socialise in the UK that now I have friends who I will miss heaps. Friends from hostels (hello Colchester buds) and flatting. It’s like your time living in your adopted country is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it time’.
- You get too used to travel. I’ve visited many countries and done a lot of travel since moving to the UK and I know I will desperately miss it when I get home. (I’m still in denial about moving home). It’s those moments of finding £25 flights to Paris or Dublin that I will miss. Where will I go now? To Wellington or Sydney? Totally not the same as stepping off the plane and seeing baguettes or Guinness everywhere.
- When you leave you feel homesick for your adopted country. Because, who knows when you’ll be back.
So, all in all, there is no way that I would ever say “I wish I never went to England”. I am so glad I decided to stay in the UK rather than head home middle of last year.
I wish I could stay longer, but it is financially impossible. Some people I know will say that I just left because I couldn’t hack it…but it’s honestly the not being able to afford to do anything which is why I am going home.
Who knows, I may come back here in a couple of years on a full time teaching job, with good pay and on a 3 year visa! I am not giving up my expat lifestyle just yet.
As soon as I get home I am getting a car and will start making holiday plans to Asia (Thailand) and Hawaii.
If I had never been an expat I would never have had the chance to go to Oslo, or Paris and spend an evening lying on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower and drinking cheap champagne. I would never have got the gelato in Milan and eaten the best pasta of my life.
I would never have discovered Brick Land or travelled through Scotland and marvelled at it’s spectacular beauty.
Or I would never have gone to Camden just a few too many times.
The White Cliffs of Dover would just be a picture in my mind, and I would have never discovered just how amazing the cliffs are. The same goes for Stonehenge.
And lastly, I would never have found out how beautiful London is. Despite it’s busyness, it really has become my second home and I love it there.