One day, not unlike any other, I got a call from my husband that would inevitably change our lives forever. There was a job opening for a position in England and he wanted to apply for it. We both thought that it would be an amazing opportunity for us and for our children to try something new and experience a completely different culture. We decided to go for it and let fate decide.
About a week later, he called me and told me that he had been selected for the job. I was equally thrilled and anxious. I’ve always wanted to visit England, but living there would be quite different. We only had three months to prepare for our move and there was so much to do. After we got the big stuff out of the way (passports, visas, and travel plans) I started to feel more excited than anything else. Finally, moving day came and we were on our way. The actual trip over went better than I had imagined. Our infant and toddler rocked the long flights, even with delays and sleep deprivation.
As we handed our paperwork to the customs officer, it really set in: I live in England. I’m thousands of miles away from everything and everyone I know. We wouldn’t be seeing our families much over the next few years, unless it was on a screen. I suddenly felt displaced and alone. Maybe I would feel better after I got some rest and regained my bearing, I thought.
When the jet lag finally wore off and coffee was enough to pull me out of the haze I was in, I started transitioning to my new life in England. We started looking for a house and a car. There was definitely a bit of culture shock at first. Everything was smaller here. Looking at houses and cars made me panic for a moment. Are we going to find a place that works for us? Are the kids going to be happy? Was moving here the right decision?
Then I realized that I needed to stop comparing everything and just see it for what it is. Things weren’t wrong, they were just different. The second house we looked at was in a small village and had an amazing view of a big potato farm behind it. Unlike the first house we looked at, it wasn’t on a busy, narrow street. It was also walking distance from my son’s new preschool and a nature preserve. We fell in love with it almost instantly.
This is an old country, brimming with historical sites and beautiful architecture. However, the layout of the roads is just as old and was designed with horses in mind. I was actually warned upon my arrival to watch out for horses because they’re worth more than my car: no joke. Many roads are barely wide enough for two cars. Parking is scarce so it’s common to see people parked halfway on a curb anywhere along the road. When driving, you have to weave around them, pedestrians, and cyclists while hoping that the drivers coming at you have had enough tea to keep their reflexes sharp. After awhile, it’s become second nature and I’ve honestly wondered if it’ll be just as weird switching back to driving on the right side of the road when I go back to America.
Once we settled in a little, I began to fall in love with England. The skies here are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Breathtaking blue skies and big, fluffy clouds provide the perfect contrast for the bright green, open fields. Every time I look out at the view behind our house, especially at sunset, I feel serene and content.
Of all the places to move abroad, I’m glad I went to England first. There’s a wide variety of accents and, while they use many words and phrases that I’m not used to, it’s still less of a dramatic difference since they speak English. I keep forgetting that I’m the one with the foreign accent now. Most of the locals don’t seem to care at all and almost all of them have been very friendly.
There are castles, cathedrals, Stonehenge, Shakespeare’s home, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace… the list of things to see and do here goes on and on. It’s also just a cheap train ride or a quick flight to many other places in Europe. I love that my kids get to explore these places rather than just reading about them in a book. Also, my son gets the experience of attending British school for the first few years. My daughter is just learning to speak, so it’ll be interesting to see if either of them pick up a British accent.
I miss my family and friends all the time, but I also feel like this is the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m so glad we went for it. If you’re considering moving abroad, I would tell you to let go of the fear of the unknown and take the leap. You won’t regret it.