What makes you feel like you belong somewhere? Is it being able to vote, buying a house or being able to find your way home from work without getting lost? For me it was being able to give directions to a lost tourist, even though I didn’t actually know the way (just kidding). Over the past few weeks I’ve started to feel like I actually belong here; I’ve become employed, obtained my Permanent Resident Card and even been issued with a library card! It sounds strange but possessing a piece of plastic that entitles me to borrow books that have been sneezed on and illicitly annotated by previous readers makes me feel more at home than anything else so far. Now that I have a library card the world is my oyster; there is no end to the amount of slightly dog eared, dubiously smelling books that I can borrow.
I have started to feel less like a long term tourist and more like a resident. I actually belong here. Massachusetts isn’t the beginning of my story, nor is it the end but every day I find it weaving its way deeper into my narrative. This is without doubt a good thing; for a while I experienced a terrible homesickness, feeling neither here or there and now I’m beginning to feel like I’ve arrived. It’s a great feeling to have and hopefully it will keep getting better as I make more friends and become more deeply involved in life here. There are things that I miss about England; proper pubs, being able to walk through a suburban neighbourhood without feeling like everyone is watching you and waiting for the football results to come in on Saturday but I don’t need these things to be happy.
One of the best things about being an expat is the sense of joy that I get when trying something new for the first time, and there will always be more new things to try. My first fall festival, the smell of a homemade pumpkin pie being baked and seeing the maple tree that I walk past everyday ablaze with autumn colour for the first time. Or the happiness that seeing a chocolate bar from your home country in a shop brings even though you could get a four beers for the same price. I practically jumped for joy when we visited a store that had pretty much every chocolate bar that Cadbury produces lying invitingly on the shelves. If you are an American reading this you should realise that the “chocolate” that Hershey’s produce under license from Cadbury is not proper Cadbury’s at all, you are being conned.
There’s always going to be some homesickness; the grass always seems to be greener on the other side but it’s important to be happy wherever you are. I remember visiting the United States as a tourist and loving the weather and the lifestyle but I wasn’t working here and having to deal with day to day problems, I was on holiday. Now that I live here it’s pretty much the same as England except with better weather and longer working hours. Every place has it’s ups and downs and I’m learning that it’s how you deal with them that counts.The main thing is that I get to be with my wife, I know that anywhere that we are together we will be happy and that makes homesickness much easier to deal with.