In some ways it is hard to believe it’s been over six months since my family moved to England. We’ve adjusted fairly well. My sons are both settled into school and nursery. Our house is really comfortable for us, and driving no longer makes me a nervous wreck. We’ve gotten to know a few people, and overall, it feels more like home than it did our first few weeks.
I know that our three years here will go by quickly. I’ve already been thinking about what I’ll miss from the experience that can’t be replicated back in the U.S. Here are a few:
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about living in a small village. I thought it would be isolating. But we really do love it here (I wrote more about village life here, and shared lots of pictures of our charming village here). There’s really nothing to compare it to in the U.S. Living out in the country in America often means you’re miles away from a store, or a restaurant, or even any neighbors. For some, this remoteness is probably exactly what they desire. But I know I’d feel lonely. But here, I can walk to our shop, the pub, and a park. If I look out the window on one side of my house, I can see nothing but rolling fields for miles. Out the other window, I can practically shake hands with my neighbor. It’s such a lovely combination of peace and tranquility, but without losing a sense of community.
Sure, there is a lot of food from the U.S. that I crave. But for each American product I miss, there’s easily a British food that I’ve fallen in love with. I plan to devote an entire post to this soon, but let’s just say I’ve had to scale back some of my indulgences after putting on a few pounds when we moved here.
They’re not workaholics.
Perhaps this is true all over Europe, and not just in Great Britain. But I find people here take their time away from work seriously. They plan fun holidays. They attend festivals. They have hobbies, like cycling or hiking or knitting. I know this is true in the U.S. too, but I often felt like I heard Americans boasting about not taking all of their vacation time and working all weekend. As if that was better than putting the laptop away for a couple of days and spending quality time with family or friends. People here value their personal time more, and I really like that about the culture.
Overall, people here are quite polite. Even if you barely brush shoulders with someone on the street, they’ll apologize. Cashiers at the store probably thank me at least 3 or 4 times when I make a purchase. When I first moved here, I had a very frustrating experience getting our phone and internet set up at our house. Each day for several weeks, I was on the phone with a representative from the company (which I shall not name for fear they’ll cut me off from the outside world!). I wanted desperately to yell at them and complain. Yet they were so polite even while delivering bad news that I felt I couldn’t be mean about my unhappiness. I like the sense of being respectful that exists here instead of the sometimes more harsh approach in the U.S.
I should preface this by saying it’s probably not as prolific as you might think. Many Americans think you don’t need a car to live anywhere in Europe. That’s certainly true in some places in Great Britain, but I definitely need a car to live in my village, which only offers a weekly bus ride to the nearby town one day a week. But, to travel to London is only a 45 minute train ride away for me. And if you book ahead, it’s usually only $15-25. Considering you’d easily spend that much on gas, not to mention the cost of parking in London, that’s a real bargain and a time saver (the city is at least 2 hours away by car). Plus I love getting to enjoy the city without having to drive through it! I can easily get to a nearby major airport and several other cities via the train as well. I’ll miss that type of ease of travel.
Just a few things that will make the transition back to the U.S. difficult. Luckily I still have 2 1/2 more years to enjoy them!
Next week I’ll share what I miss most from America as we approach the Christmas holiday season.