I shall link to the other expat bloggers’ views from our meet-up on Saturday soon. But before I do, I have to stop and think a bit about something that was written this morning by my good friend Michelloui:
NFAH’s sometimes spiky writing about her experiences and observations in the UK might make you think of a cynical, intelligent, workaholic who loves music and jet setting and making friends with other expats. In the tangible world she is a warm, kind, intelligent woman with zero pretentions and a real interest in other people. She also has a genuine enjoyment of her life in Britain. She has a fun sense of humour with a great sense of irony….
It’s always a bit of a wake-up call to see what others say about you when you’ve met. And anyone who has followed this blog from the beginning (and I don’t think there are any commenters left from the early days) would know that there was once upon a time another person with whom I met, and with whom I ended up falling out over a comment about my personality. I was shocked by it at the time, and in retrospect I’m still a bit confused by the whole thing.
Blogs are a funny thing. In my case, I started the blog to write about my observations about living abroad. It was a huge step for me, coming from the midwest of the US, and I was honestly and genuinely surprised by what I found here. I love it here, and I have a wonderful job and a mostly wonderful existence (made even more wonderful by the friendships I have developed with other expat bloggers). I came into this experience with very few pre-conceived notions about what it would be like living abroad, and sometimes I have found it wonderful and sometimes I have found it frustrating. It comes perhaps as no surprise that the frustrations have seen more press in this blog than the positive things. I’m an officially single (divorced) person living alone abroad for work reasons, which (as far as I can tell) is a rather unusual circumstance amongst the greater expat blog community.
My blog posts have, at times, thus really emphasized my frustrations. My credit card woes. My irritation at two tap sinks. It’s been a vent for my irritation and frustration and general snarky-ness. I admit it. I have no problem with admitting it. But I’ve been very surprised to read the responses of others to my views, which have been in general very different from what I intended when I wrote any particular thing.
I hate to think that my blog persona is one of anger or unhappiness. Thus my sensitivity at any comments that even hint at the possibility. I’ll soon be celebrating 4 years in this fine country, and for that I am extremely grateful. I more or less love it here, or I would have moved back to the US when I had the chance (at 1.3 years, for the record). I absolutely hate the idea that people who meet me in person would think that I was negative overall, and not get that my musings were both out of frustration at times but also tongue-firmly-in-cheek at other times. Sure I find Britain to be lacking in certain things, but also I know that America is lacking in many things. I hope that I (as an expat) am open to all of these views and clearly I’m here for a reason.
Every time I’ve been so frustrated that I’ve thought about moving ‘home’ to the US it’s been easy to reason why that was a bad idea. I hope that the locals don’t feel too bad about my staying here and continuing to enjoy the work that I do here. Being an expat is a rough thing that I never considered as a young person, I moved here at 30. And it’s been one hell of a learning experience since I arrived. I’m looking forward to celebrating four years abroad in the fall and somewhat shocked that I’ve made nearly four years. I feel as though, in some ways, I’m clearly established here and I have no real recourse to move in the future.
Brits, I love your country. I’ve been frustrated moving abroad. I’ve found some things about your locals that are like the things I would criticize in my own country if they were there. But don’t read too much into my frustrations. On the whole, this blog is my vent and I’m a relatively happy and healthy person who has a great life on a day-to-day basis. And I really don’t know what I would do if someone made me leave Europe for the US.