Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Year Well-Expat Checkup

I just took a bit of time to reread my previous well-expat checkups.  It seems I started each one by saying "I can't believe it's already been x months!"  And now I will say it again.  I can't believe it's been a year.  Things have certainly changed.  

I've been mulling over this post for weeks, wondering what on earth I had to say.  Life just feels normal now.  Well, as normal as life can ever really feel.  The newness and challenge of the transition has settled into a regular routine.  I just happen to live in London.  

All of the things that were so scary at first are just a part of everyday existence.  I go shopping, to the nail and hair salon.  I ride the bus and tube to work everyday.  I know those things shouldn't be scary, but they really were.   Seriously.

Once I started working and had to just get on with it, I've stopped being so self-conscious about being an American.  I'm on a team of 14 and only 2 of them are Brits.  Everyone speaks with some accent or another.  I find people to be very friendly and accepting.  I've relaxed into myself again which feels good.


Sure I still miss iced tea and TexMex like crazy!  I haven't driven in over a year.  And now that we are settled in the hardest part, by far, is being away from family and friends.  I don't think that will ever get easier.  Being homesick is just a garment that I wear everyday.

Of course, I can't post a check-up without mentioning the WEATHER.  It's really not that bad at all.  It rains sometimes, but it rarely really pours.  And yeah, it's cold.  Uhm.  It's winter.  But, the thing that I have really, really struggled with is the darkness.  At its worst, darkness arrived before 4pm.  We are over the hump and each day is getting longer.  And I know that in a few months, daylight will last late into the evening.  So it all balances out.  But, the darkness and how it affects me was not something I was really prepared for.

Now that we are both working, there is less time for exploring and more time for the mundane.  That can be a little annoying.  Ah, to be independently wealthy.  And I think the very last piece of the puzzle is the social aspect.  We are now starting to develop some great new friendships.  I'm really looking forward to that part of life blossoming in the next year. 

Looking back over the past year brings mixed emotions.  I think there are things that I probably could have handled better.  That whole Patience issue that I have has certainly been on display.  I also think I could have been a little braver and more self-confident.  It's easy to underestimate what you're capable of when you are faced with new challenges.  There are times when I was a bit of a wuss.  

But, I'm also really proud that we made the leap.  I haven't had any doubts about the decision.  This move has challenged and changed me.  I'm definitely a different person now.  And I'm really looking forward to the next phase. It's exciting to be on the other side of it and looking ahead to see what's next. 

Lastly, I have to express my heartfelt gratitude to those of you who read this blog.  I reread all of the comments and encouragement you gave me after my expat check-ups.  There are several of you that have been encouraging me through this whole year.  Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out. 

I've said it before and I will continue to say that it means the world to me.  I appreciate every single comment.  It's made all the difference.  


The photos are from our recent Switzerland/Austria Trip.  I'll be sharing a lot more in the next week or so.  One of the best trips we've taken so far. 


  1. Thanks for this. It's helpful and inspiring to read how you feel six months ahead of me.

    British winters are so much darker than US ones. Even here in PA I notice that. When you look on a map you can see why, but it was always tough to be in Scotland over winter. It's why Scots invented whiskey ;)

  2. It is so good to hear how good you are doing, and I love reading about it :)

  3. Selena,
    I know I haven't known you long, but I do love getting to know you.
    I was a military brat and a Military wife all of my life, moving and leaving and getting to know new places has always been my life. It's hard, and it never gets easier, so to look back on your blog and see how far you have come, I don't think you have done anything wrong. I'm an old hat at the tubes, but let me tell you, at first, it's extremely scary, after all you're on public transportation miles under the earth! Not to mention the dodgy characters you might find on the tubes at any given time!
    Your life is a blessing, you get to experience life on a whole new level that many don't get to undertake, you're so much stronger and so much braver than you give yourself credit for. I completely admire you!
    When I finally get my butt over there to live, we will have to hang out once in awhile! Leave the men home... whatever... and go shopping!!! Whooohooo!

  4. It has been incredibly inspiring to follow along on your journey this past year. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to provide a peak into your life and how you navigated through moving to London and all of the wonderful amazing places that you have visited. I am now starting to go and visit the places that you went to (went to Borough Market on Saturday!!! Wow!!)
    So happy that life seems normal to you now.
    Looking forward to the next phase!

  5. Congratulations on your one year milestone! I'm glad to see you're feeling settled and I really hope the homesickness becomes manageable.

    I love the photos in this post and the journey you took us through as we read the text.

    It is strange to hear you mention self-confidence and bravery because I thought you did really well last year and you handled everything with grace. You just seemed to take it all in your stride and you did what you set out to do. Anyway, I definitely wish you all of the best for this year.

    I girl I know on Twitter has just bought a Lumie Bodyclock lamp and she swears it's changed her life in helping with the darkness. I just try walk in the mornings before walk so I get some daylight time because we can see the world go pitch black from 4pm!

  6. I have loved following your journey this year. You have handled everything so well. For me, it finally feels like home here after 18 months. Regarding the lack of light, I started taking vitamin D and seemed to really boost my mood.

  7. Well said, Selena! "Being homesick is just a garment that I wear everyday."
    Kind of like the scarf or jacket we put on every time we walk outside any day in London!

  8. One year?! That's crazy!!
    I totally relate to some of the things you said about self confidence or things just being scary. Every time I go to Tesco or Boots it's scary still! I feel like I'm in everyone's way all the time and they just know by looking at me that I'm American! (So not the case.....)
    Getting dark at about 4 is the worst, too. I'm like ready for bed at 6pm.
    I'm so glad you're happy still in your not so new home!!

  9. Well done Selena!! The darkness of a London Winter is not very encouraging, I remember when I lived in London, that I didn't want to leave the house after 3pm. Plus there was also lots of anxieties about being in a different country, fitting in, making friends, it takes a good 6 months to a year to work it all out. You sound very happy and settled. I have enjoyed being on your journey this past year and can't wait to see your Switzerland/Austria photo's.

  10. Hey! I just hit 3 Years here was the fastest three years of my life!
    Lovely Blog xx

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