If you have been a long term follower of this blog you will know that I like to keep a light-hearted tone in most of my posts. I like to post about the times people ask me if I’m Australian or if I’ve been for tea at Buckingham Palace and I like to post anecdotes about the times I have been tripped up by language and different ways of doing things. There was the time I thought I was going to get a cold cider and I got served apple juice and the time I thought a girl in a shop was hitting on me because she asked for my number when I bought some clothes.
The reason that I post these anecdotes of my own incompetence and comparisons between American and British life and culture in what I dare to hope is an amusing manner is because they are easy to write. They are easy to write because I love learning about life in the US and sharing my experiences in a tongue in cheek way and because I am a numpty and I embarrass myself on a regular basis. The well of amusing anecdotes where I fail at life never runs dry.
This post is different so if you are looking for a story like one of my previous posts where I admitted to apologising to a tree after walking into it because I am British then I’m afraid that you will be disappointed. Today I’m going to talk about the dark side: how hard it is to move to a foreign country and feel like you belong there. I know some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking boo-hoo how hard is it to move from a country with Starbucks all over the bloody place to a country with Starbucks all over the bloody place but it can be really difficult at times.
The hard part isn’t all the times I’ve nearly been run over because I looked the wrong way as I crossed the road. The hard part is convincing myself that I’m supposed to be here. When you are shy, awkward and not particularly good at meeting new people without the aid of alcohol (and I’m not at university any more) making friends is really very difficult. Self doubt confounds that as you are convinced the people you meet aren’t going to like you. When you don’t have friends and family around keeping life on an even keel is much more difficult.
I’ve been in the US for 14 months now and my life after work still consists of putting on Netflix and trying to pretend that watching a series of The Office in one night is a good life choice. Life should be so much better because I have an amazing wife and a job and I live in one of the best cities in the US. So I’ve made myself a promise to work on being grateful for what I have and even more importantly to work on my own happiness. I’m starting to realise that living life under a cloud is not sustainable and that if there is a chance to get away from it then I should at least try.
So why did I subject you to this miserable post you ask? Well it’s so easy to maintain a façade of happiness with carefully chosen pictures on Facebook and Instagram without really admitting how we are feeling even to ourselves. So many of us suffer from sadness, depression and many other things and don’t ever hint at it even to friends and family. So here I’m doing my own tiny and rather crap part towards increasing the dialogue. If you made it to the end without closing the browser then thank you and I promise that my next post will (probably) be full of silly anecdotes and dry humour as per usual.
30 thoughts on “The Hardest Part”
I think we all go through times like these in our lives, though circumstances may vary. I enjoy all your posts, even this one. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much for reading and understanding, I really appreciate it. 🙂
Moving is hard. The older you get, the harder it is to make friends, too. If your hobbies consist of solitary walks it’s even tougher. (I’m a fan of solitary walks.) So good for you for trying yoga and making the effort when you’re up for it. And for being brave enough to share.
Also, do you know what people in the state of New Hampshire are most thankful for?
Thank you so much for your support, I really appreciate it. I’m a big fan of solitary walks too and I agree that as an activity it doesn’t lend itself to friendship! Netflix is definitely something to be thankful for. :p
Having just recently relocated (although within the same country) myself, I know exactly how hard it is to make new friends and to really find anywhere that you feel you belong and know why you’re here. It is the very toughest thing no doubt. I wish I had some great advice to give about how to get out there and meet people and find purpose, but as I’m still struggling myself to find my new niche, afraid all I can offer is a virtual hug and the knowledge that you’re not alone! 🙂
Thank you so much for your support and empathy! I’ve really been touched by all the responses on here and I definitely feel less alone now! I wish you every success in finding your new niche, hopefully we can both do it. 🙂
I can totally relate. We’ve been in the Netherlands for 13 months and before that Barcelona for almost 5 years. It takes a long time to feel comfortable and sometimes I wonder if it ever feels truly like home. I read a post not that long ago that says part of the problem is that we try to recreate what we define as home in a new place and you just can’t do that – I know I’m guilty. But regardless, it’s not easy moving to a new country with new culture, customs, etc etc. But at the same time, it’s worth it! Keep your chin up, keep pushing yourself to your limits and realize you are stronger than you ever knew – living abroad definitely teaches you that!
Thank you so much for the support and encouragement! I agree, we want our new homes to be like where we left and it’s disappointing when it can’t be the same. I am definitely going to keep trying and making the best of it. 🙂
Understandable mate, I felt that way when I moved to Exeter and I only travelled 120 miles, a mere fraction of the distance you’ve moved! I was 10 years older than most others (well, still am obviously!) having given up a reasonably paying but dead end job to do it.
I’ve always found that mindfulness exercises help declutter the noisiness inside the head. Have you tried that?
Thanks for understanding Matt, I’m glad that you have come out on the other side of that. I’ve never tried mindfulness exercises, would you recommend giving them a go?
Indeed, they really help to clear all the noisiness and increase focus. I don’t do it often enough.
Cat has used some of these and found them useful, though I’ve not used these specifically, I’ve done similar exercises from a CD I bought from a course I did last year.
Thanks Matt, I’ll look into that when I get home. Willing to give anything a try!
I think it’s actually nice to see this other side of you, it’s natural and it’s human! Every now and then I think about relocating, especially as friends ask me to move to their city, but I believe that once you get older it’s more difficult to make friends when you move, and it gets harder to leave family and friends behind, hoping you’ll meet nice enough people to make up for that loss.
As you said, you’re lucky to have your wife, but if you’re single most people over thirty will be in a relationshop and/or have a family, and they won’t to meet with you, the single person, after work or on the weekends. That’s one of the biggest reasons I no longer consider relocating.
Just out of curiosity – if it were the other way around and your wife had moved to England with you, do you think the situation would be different/better (for her) because of the cultural differences? I was wondering when I read your post if some cultures just welcome strangers more and make it easier to be integrated, or if it’s not a cultural thing at all.
On that note, I’ll be in your neck of the woods in about a week’s time, and I hope I won’t see you moping around the park! 😀
Thank you so much! You make some really valid points, I think if my wife had moved to England then she might have coped better but she’s kind of an introvert too so who knows to be honest. I think Americans are some of the most welcoming but I seem to do better with other immigrants, maybe because we understand how it is more. You are visiting New England? You might find me doing yoga in the park but moping is reserved for sitting in my arse in front of Netflix haha! 😛
I visited France for about a week, staying with strangers. I felt so lonely, especially with the language barrier even knowing how to speak French. Others especially didn’t want to have to try so hard to have a conversation, and I was already weird to begin with no matter my cultural background.
Yeah its tough being abroad when you can’t speak the language, I’m lucky that Americans can understand me most of the time although the Boston accent can be pretty difficult! Nothing wrong with being weird 🙂
We have to be us…sometimes…
A very good point, thank you. 🙂
I understand and I believe most of us have experienced this. It takes time to make new friends and become comfortable with where you are and your inner self.
Thank you so much for understanding, wise words indeed. It does take time, sometimes longer than we would like.
Keep it real! Post about whatever you want and whatever you are feeling. It will relay in your blog and people will respond. Thanks for your honesty! I’m proud of you for having the guts to live abroad. I haven’t had the guts or the opportunity yet. Cheers!
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the support and the understanding. The responses I’ve had on here have really moved me. I’m glad the post came across well, thanks for reading! 🙂
By the way, expats aren’t the only ones that sit and binge watch Netflix so you aren’t alone. I have watch five seasons of Dowton Abby in about a month or so…I’m not judging that’s for sure!
Haha that is some good work right there! 🙂
I am glad that you chose to share your feelings with us. I try to keep the tone of my blog upbeat and positive, but that does not mean that everything is always sunshine and roses. As an introvert I struggle constantly with trying to push myself into social settings and fighting bouts of depression due to feeling isolated and alone. I find that blogging helps because it allows me to be a “virtual extrovert”. Hang in there, friend, and know that I will read your words no matter the subject!
Thank you so much Karen for your support and understanding. I find the same, that having the blog helps me get myself out there virtually when I’m to shy to communicate with actual people. Having people who understand and are so supportive makes blogging extra worthwhile! 🙂
Congratulations! You’re normal! and British…not sure how that is working, but there you have it. 😉 Nawwww, you’re alright man.
Haha thank you Lani! 🙂
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