Wow. The past few weeks have really flown by. They’ve been crazy busy with moving preparations, finishing out work for the year and making the most of the time left with our friends here. I have been overwhelmed with emotion and the whole thing is very bittersweet. Of course I am thrilled to be returning home home/being near to my family for the first time in a long time and I’m excited about our new house and the conveniences of living in the US again. However, I am leaving behind some of the best people I have ever met and the place where I have lived some of my best years to date. As we head off this morning, I’ll be undoubtedly reflecting on the friendships I’ve made and some of the lessons I’ve learned as an expat.
- Moving to another country really is moving to another country. I grossly underestimated the amount of small cultural differences that there would be, assuming that by 2015 (when we moved to Ireland) globalization and the internet would have made things more homogenous the world over. Although I am sure they have moved things in that direction, I have to say I even now consistently encounter little surprising differences – phrases I haven’t yet heard, interesting viewpoints, or just general availability (or lack thereof) of things I might be shopping for.
- Transitions are hard…. I am a creature of habit and a routine junkie. This is my third big move and although every time has been exciting and for good reasons, I really, really hate the transition phase. As I’ve said before, planning is my favorite sport and Jon argues that I even like planning to plan, but in times of big upheaval, I know that I have to be more flexible and *try* to go with the flow.
- But if you’re patient enough, you can adapt to just about anything. Although I think we did experience some culture shock and a WHOLE.BUNCH.OF.RAIN when we first arrived, I feel we’ve adjusted well and I struggle to even remember what is that was so different or overwhelming when we first arrived. Adjusting to life abroad has proven to me that given some time (and probably a bit of effort) people can and do adapt, grow and change for the better.
- Experiences are always worth it. While living in Ireland, Jon and I had the chance to visit so many amazing places around the country and all around Europe. We’ve hosted friends and family from back home, I’ve done a few girls’ trips, and we’ve traveled extensively together. Although we probably could have saved some more money than we did, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to do the long weekend city breaks or travel from small town to small town to see the highlights of the roads less traveled. We’ve seen the major tourist attractions, but also the small corner shops and cafes and some of the most perfect sunsets and sceneries that have ever existed.
- People are what matter. More than a place, anywhere in the world is what it is because of those you are with. I am incredibly sad to be leaving behind some of the best friends that I have had and the studio that I have been so integrated into for years at this stage. This has been my home away from home, they are my tribe, and I am so grateful for the friendships we’ve formed and the memories I am taking back with me. And I have to say that this was the best possible start to my marriage – taking on this big adventure and navigating the entire experience as newlyweds served only to strengthen our relationship and give us opportunities we thought we’d only dream about. Plus, we got some pretty cute puppies out of the deal as well 🙂