At approximately 5 pm on October 8, 2006, I was deposited at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by my parents after visiting my Grandmother to say goodbye. I had two large pieces of luggage and a carry-on. One case held clothes, the other held sheets, towels, a duvet, and other small household goods needed in the short term. The majority of my worldly possessions were going on a boat scheduled for an unknown arrival date.
At 7 pm on October 8, 2006, I departed Minneapolis for London Gatwick on a one-way ticket.
At some-time just past 9 am on October 9, 2006, I arrived at Gatwick and had my work permit and visa stamped at immigration.
At around noon on October 9, 2006, I arrived at my new office, with my suitcases, to declare officially that I had arrived to take up my job. I went to admin to have the stamped work permit and visa copied for my personnel file.
At just before 4 pm on October 9, 2006, my suitcases and I took a short cab ride and I checked into my temporary, partially furnished one-bedroom flat. It had furniture but no furnishings, so I spent a few days buying necessities, such as a single plate, a coffee mug and french press, some cheap cutlery, a paring knife, a frying pan and a small pot, a bowl, a baking dish, etc. I had a very spartan cooking existence those first few months.
On October 10, 2006, I arrived at work and set about the tasks of acclimation including getting internet access, a new computer and a normal working environment in my office. Within a few weeks I had all of that plus a broadband connection and a webcam at my temporary flat, and so I’d settled a bit into the pattern of life abroad. I stayed in that flat for just under five months, taking possession of my current flat in late January, 2007 and finally seeing my own belongings from America when they arrived in late Jan./early Feb. 2007. It was a huge relief to see my own stuff but there was no place to put any of it, due to the “no closets and limited cupboards in the kitchen problem” not to mention the issue of curtains, and so it took more than a year of re-arrangements before I had my flat feeling like home.
The bottom line: it is the second anniversary of my arrival as an expatriate in the UK. I have survived a full two years and while I’m not sure I’d say I’m thriving perfectly, I’m definitely more comfortable today than I have been at any point in the last two years. My annoyances are relatively minor, I work hard at my job and only sometimes notice where I am. I would not say that I am settled perfectly yet, but if the property market keeps tanking then perhaps soon I will be! But in general, things are good.
So to celebrate, today I went to John Lewis and purchased (splashed out on, really) a not-so-cheap two-years-in-the-UK gift to self. Any guesses as to what it was? I’ll hint, this replaces something I had to buy when I first arrived, and which was discarded when my own belongings arrived from the US. Now I’ve “upgraded” to a better model than my US version with my self-gift today. The other hint is that my purchase today stems from my desire to hold my first UK dinner party this month, to take the opportunity to invite into my own home a few persons who have kindly invited me into theirs.