EXPAT LIFE: We’ve just returned from another home visit to Australia. It was short but still very enjoyable. As with other visits, we saw our friends and family and looked at our house in Sydney’s Inner West. Nothing seems to have changed much except for one big exception.
Somewhere, somehow between this year and last year, I have made a transition.
Not a conscious one but a very significant one. When my Aussie friends back home asked me once again how I liked it here in the US, I suddenly realized that I was missing my home. No, not the Australian one as previously but my New Jersey home, where we have lived for the last three years. Something happened that I assumed never would. I had switched over to thinking of the US as my home without realizing.
When you miss your friends but still miss being at your home overseas more, you know that that you’ve crossed that invisible line. After two initial years of hard emotional yakka (Australian for ‘work’), it shocked me very much to feel this way without seeing it coming.
How and why this has come about are questions I can’t really explain clearly but I will try.
It seems to be the result of a whole lot of attitudinal shifts that have been happening over time which have an accumulated effect.
First of all, on this home trip there was a slight strangeness about Australia that I hadn’t felt before. Normally, I get a thrill revisiting my favourite places around Sydney. These visits help to top-up my previously much needed ‘Australiana’ dose. Passing by the Australian Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge this time though didn’t elicit the patriotic urges they have on previous occasions.
I must have also grown fonder of my expat home in New Jersey over time. It is after all a very pretty place. More importantly, the things about US life that irked me personally at the beginning have faded into the background much more.
As an expat couple, it has been some of the compromises we have been forced to accept as part of our relocation that have been so problematic. But strangely these too are losing their significance over time. There are now strong bonds with some US friends that weren’t quite as obvious previously. The kids being settled at their schools and doing well has also helped.
Perhaps the biggest single factor for me though has been creating this blog, which personally provided me with a professional and social outlet in the US that wasn’t there before. Not being able to get a job here has been the worst aspect of US expat life for me. It’s almost a personal acceptance now that I haven’t been able to work in my chosen career of pharmaceutical marketing. Another attitudinal shift that I’m surprised about.
Thank goodness though I have moved on. It can’t be healthy staying in the half-empty mindset for extended periods. But it is something that every individual can only do in their own time. I have certainly had that opportunity.
While It’s great to feel that you can still learn new approaches to life as part of the overseas relocation experience, it’s equally as good not to feel you have been an ‘expat failure’.
I still don’t feel that I’m similar to local Americans but somehow I do fit in.
NB: This blog post is part of a blog linkup with other expat bloggers hosted at Windmill Fields. You can visit here to read how other expats feel about the expat transition to seeing your relocated country as home.