It’s summer in England and the country seems to have been overrun with American tourists. I go back and forth on my level of identification with my fellow Americans: compared with the tourists, I’m a local, but compared with the locals, I’m still a stranger in a strange land.
Something struck me funny and familiar about today’s date, so I thought about it while walking to work this morning and realised that it was precisely one year ago today that I was here in the UK interviewing for the job that I now have. My how much things can change in one year!
I accepted the job offer more or less on the spot, without any sort of thought or contemplation about what it meant. The implications slowly set in during the gap between the interview and my starting date in October–it was three solid months of paperwork and logistics. I recall fondly the first few weeks here, when I felt like Alice through the looking glass–everything was strange but charming and interesting. It was not too long before the reality of the circumstances of daily life set in–it’s already been almost three months of my venting my frustrations on this blog.
I’ve now actually lived here for more than nine months, and the adventures continue. To a first approximation, nothing about my life here is as I had expected. Some of that is due to the fact that in making such a big move with such a substantial change in circumstances, there was really no mechanism for having detailed expectations. Most of my thoughts about what my UK life would be like were pretty indistinct. I should have realized that I could not cling to my life in America, but would have to build a new life here from scratch. I should have known that my closest circle of friends would change although perhaps I could not have predicted which people in the US would keep in touch. I certainly could not have predicted the new relationships with people here in the UK. Perhaps most importantly, I could not have predicted how much this experience would change me.
At the end of the day, I’m happy here. It’s not easy and I’m not really settled yet. I can hope that in another year I’ll have made some progress on that front! But it’s funny, I moved here for the job, and now that I’m here the job is not the most important thing. Life has taken on a richness that I never really felt in the US and it is this change in me that makes this whole pond-jumping adventure worth it.