Reflections on 3.5 Years Abroad, Part 4

This is the final part in my mini-series, Reflections on 3.5 Years Abroad. You can catch up on the series by following the reflections on expat life tag. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series.

The past six months have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve had some truly amazing opportunities and experiences, and I’ve had some mixed feelings about finally deciding to pack up my bags and return to California.

I didn’t know where to start with the move when January came round. I was more focused on activities that were happening in the near future than I was on the move. Darren and I took a weekend trip to Dublin for my birthday, and I was going attend The Blogcademy.

The Blogcademy is one of those things that I really wish came along earlier in my expat experience. Not only did I learn a load of stuff to take my blogging to the next level, but I met many awesome, inspiring women. Sometimes when you know you’re leaving, it’s difficult justifying the effort to forge new friendships, but I tried to attend as many post-Blogcademy get togethers as I could, and I look forward to keeping in touch even after I have moved back to California. But as Blogcademy has gone global, and I’m sure there will be opportunities to make new blogger friends on the West Coast, too.

February was a mostly eventful month. Darren celebrated his birthday, and we started planning a visit to California. The trip was planned on a bit of a whim, but we thought it would be a really good idea to go back to visit so that I could make sure that I was making the right decision.

We set off for California in March, and it was brilliant. I met up with some of my favorite friends, visited San Francisco, went to the beach, and had a few lovely long drives. We managed to condense almost all of my favorite activities into one week. These were the very things I was desperately missing in my life; the things that make me truly happy. I didn’t want to leave; I didn’t want to come back to London (seriously, guys, it was embarrassing).

I managed to get myself together enough to drop off my bag at the airport and head through security. I knew I had great things to come back to in the UK. Two days after arriving back in the UK, Caroline hosted a group of Blogcademy babes for a day out in Cambridge. It was such a great, fun day that I quickly forgot my apprehensiveness about coming back.

When I was in California, I told people I’d planned on moving back in June. The problem was that I hadn’t talked to my manager about moving since my mid-year review earlier in the year. I was a bit afraid to ask him if I could move back and continue working in my current role while I looked for a job back in the US. I’d never met him in person before, and I had no idea how he would react. I had a chat with my parents the weekend before I talked to him, and they encouraged me to go for it–what was the worst that could happen? He’d say no (isn’t it funny how humans fear rejection so much?)? I mustered my courage for my bi-weekly meeting with my manager, and he was totally on board with the idea. He understood my frustration with finding a job here, and the possibilities that would open up if I could look for a job back in the US.

I was buzzing from the excitement. A final date for my move back was finally set, and we could get down to planning. Planning has been overwhelming at times, but also very exciting. It’s a new start for both Darren and I, and will be the first time we’ve chosen a place to live together, furniture, and other proper grown-up stuff.

Unfortunately, I will be on my own in the US for six months or so while we wait for Darren to get a visa to live and work in the US. It’s going to be tough, but I’m hoping that I’ll be happier at home. Happier with friends around, happier with sunshine, cats, tasty food, and familiarity. Happier with life.

When I was a teenager, and especially when I was a college student in Wisconsin, I knew that I wasn’t going to stick around the Midwest. I had day dreams of sunshine, beaches, and a more laid back vibe. I’d never been to California, but I’d always wanted to go, and imagined making it my future home. I had a great opportunity to move out West after I graduated from college, and there was no way I was going to pass it up–even if it was the first time I’d lived away from home, and even if it was quite far from Wisconsin.

Things were a bit difficult until I found a job, but once I started working and making my own friends, California was the only place I wanted to be. California was home.

While London was tough for me at times, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Yes. I would do this again.

The thing is, living abroad is an amazing experience, and anyone would be crazy to pass up the opportunity. It’s a great way to learn about other cultures–a way to see how they live, how they work, and how they play. It’s a great way to learn more about what you want in your ideal home, and maybe make you appreciate your home country, culture, and community more than you did before.

I may be an idealist, but I believe the more we know about each other, the better place the world will be. So while I’m eager to get settled in California, I can’t help but dream about living and working abroad again (maybe Australia or Canada?).