Monday, July 11, 2011

My Thoughts on Repatriation....

This weekend, we booked our one way tickets from London to Raleigh and started to clear our home of furniture that we won't be taking back with us to the USA.  As I walked through our home just now, I got a bit emotional.  But thankfully, I know that this is all quite normal.

A friend of mine, who was an expat in India, shared a book with me on life as an expat just before we moved here to England.  One of the things that I learned from that book is that repatriating back into your home country is often more difficult than the move to a new country.  In my experience, this is turning out to be very true.

When you are preparing to move to a new country the process is a bit scary, but its exciting, and full of adventure, freedom, and the wonder of what's to come.   While away, you experience so many different opportunities that will most certainly change the person that you were.  You meet people, you see history, cultures, and ways of life that you have never seen before.  And if you're lucky, you are in that new place long enough to officially feel like a "local" and no longer a tourist.

The move home is tough - you are going home to very familiar places and people, but again, things have changed - you know you have changed, but because of the distance and inevitable disconnection with home, you don't quite know how "home" has changed.  While you tell yourself you know what to expect, its almost scary to finally KNOW what to expect for a change - the roller coaster of wonder and new experiences isn't as thrilling as it was in your expat country...

I am sad today because I know that this journey is quickly coming to an end, and these two years have been the best two years of my life.  Since August 2009, I have been engaged, packed up a house in NC and turned it into a rental property, lived and worked abroad, traveled Europe, prepared to purchase a second home, and married my best friend.  If you had told me all of this was in store for me, I would have never believed you.

It's been amazing, and while I am so excited to get home, I will truly miss this place. It's going to be like saying goodbye to an old friend. I know we'll be back to visit, but wow, it won't be easy to say goodbye on August 21, not at all.

I have learned so much about myself and about people, I just hope I can hold onto these memories forever.  I am not the person I was two years ago when I took the one-way flight from Raleigh to London, and the return trip will send me home as a new, more confident, more accepting, and compassionate person.  It's bittersweet to leave, but I think we have laughed, learned and loved here in more than ever before - there's nothing bitter about that. 

The next chapter is quickly approaching, and if the previous chapters of our story indicate anything about future, these next two years will be quite an adventure, perhaps not THIS adventure, but I guarantee you there will be one...or two :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things I Have Learned While Living in England

We are just back from a spending a great 3-day weekend in Vienna, Austria.  Vienna is such an easy city to tour, everything for the most part was in walking distance or accessible by their subway system.  We enjoyed some great food and did a bit of shopping - if you want to know the details of our itinerary and how we did it just let me know!

On our flight home, I started to reflect on some of the life lessons I have learned during these past two years abroad. Here's my list:


  1. Mind the Gap - If you have ever been to London, then you know this phrase well - if you have not then google it!   Outside of riding the Underground in London, this phrase reminds me be aware of my surroundings and any obstacles that I might encounter.  It doesn't mean that we should not take risks or experience adventure, but just that we should be aware of any pitfalls along the way
  2. Recognize When You're KNACKERED and Take a Break - One thing Europeans do very well is balance work and life.  For the most part, folks make time to have fun, have hobbies, travel and spend time with their families - I don't think we do that enough in America.  "Knackered" means worn out, exhausted, or good for nothing.  I have found I am much more productive and pleasant when I balance work and life.
  3. Keep Calm and  Carry On - One of my favorite quotes...a wartime quote from Winston Churchill.  Its pretty self explanatory, but says so much - just keep going, no matter what is going on around you. 
  4. Dance in the Rain - Well, you don't have to exactly dance in the rain, but if you have ever spent a significant amount of time in England, you know that you have to get out and get on with your day when it rains.  At home, when there is rain or the promise of rain, we typically stay home and wait for the storm to pass.  Here in England, we have learned that if we are going to get anything done, we have to just get out and go, even in the pouring rain!  I have actually come to join the rain, which I never thought I would.  Our time on this planet is limited, do not delay your productivity and adventure one day longer, even if its raining :-) 
We are really going to miss this place, but are truly looking forward to going home soon!