Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Expat Q&A: Perceptions of Life Abroad


So much for my editorial calendar, dear readers - my posting schedule this month has been turned a bit upside down!  I've got the visa update being published tomorrow, I promise, plus the results of my survey on Thursday.  Hold me to that, okay?

I knew I couldn't move today's post, though, because it's time for Belinda and Bailie's Expat Q&A!  As I mentioned in a recent post about being an expatriate, missing experiences with family and friends back home can be the hardest part of living far away, but the prompts for this encouraged me to reexamine my years living in London through the lens of what those I'd left in the States might be missing by not being part of the life I was making abroad.

However, I don't think that moving to another country was as challenging in that respect as it could have been because it was expected of my peers that we'd make new lives elsewhere.  Maybe 10% of my classmates from high school are back in DC now, a decade after graduating, and I can count on one hand the number that stayed local for college.  Sure, I was further away from my family than many of my friends were from theirs, but it's just the way it was!  I could have been paying rent 35 miles away or fighting with public transportation 350 miles away, and sharing my life with my family and friends from home would have taken the same concerted thought as it did when I was 3500 miles away.  They knew that, no matter where I lived, my experiences would be at times exciting and at others mundane.  Life contains equal parts adventure and tedium regardless of location, exotic or otherwise!

How do your family and friends back home perceive your new life and is it accurate?
Do you find the need to edit your life from friends and family?

I asked my sister about her thoughts on the first part of the first question above, and here's what she said:
I thought it was great you followed your heart over to London. Cell phones and email have made it easier to stay in touch so I didn't feel like you were that far away, but I was always glad you had Jon's family. I think it was a great learning experience and adventure for you, obviously easier to say in retrospect - hearing some of the frustrations and struggles at the time, of being away from family and trying to figure out your life with Jon, when he was fresh out of college but you already had a few years of life under your belt - I knew that you were growing and being pushed out of your comfort zone which I think would be the desired result of any experience abroad.
Well, yeah, that sounds about right to me!  So I guess the answer to the rest of question 1 is yes and the answer to question 2 is no.  Though my mom would have probably preferred me to edit a bit more - I called her just as often when I was in London as if I were still in DC!  I think she was hoping the umbilical cord wouldn't stretch over the Atlantic...

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7 comments:

  1. Thank you for joining us. I love seeing how everyone interprets the question and then plays it out. I found it interesting how you mention so many of your peers moving away and I mentioned in my post how my mom still lives minutes away from her childhood home, these experiences of peers and family really shape how we enter into the challenge and joy of life away.

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  2. oh absolutely! I didn't realize how much I took it for granted that this was the norm - well, moving to another country was unusual, but still - because it absolutely colored how I approached the distance. I'm appreciating it much more now that I'm reading others' experiences!

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  3. I feel like your sister's response is quite similar to how most of my friends and family would respond. Well, at least aside from my parents. They would put me on the next flight back to California if they could. For everyone else, skype and whatsapp seem to do the trick :)

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  4. YAY hello! I can't believe I'm talking to someone by the Arctic Circle - that is so cool. it's nice to meet you :)

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  5. haha I hear you! when Jon and I took a break a few years ago, my dad rearranged a business trip to London so he could come "take care of me" because that's what parents want to do :)

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  6. Wow, my experience is the opposite of yours. It's cool that your family was so open to you moving. Maybe about 10% of my high school class left the state, some studied abroad in college. As far as I know, I'm one of less than a handful who lived abroad long term. My family all live within a 5-10 minute drive of each other back in the suburbs. Skype was a revelation to my parents!

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  7. adventuresofalondonkiwiOctober 20, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    I love your attitude about the life in another country being half glamourous and half mundane - so many people don't understand that and it makes it so hard for them.. they expect it's going to be streets paved with gold!

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I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.