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Dispatches from London: Nerves & Excitement as I prepare for My Move to London

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It’s getting down to about three weeks until my departure, and I am equal parts excited and nervous. It’s a major life change to pack up everything you know and move across the world to a new country. Becoming an expatriate is even bigger than just moving to a new city in your own country. You’re uprooting yourself and everyone you know to become a local in a foreign country. On one hand, I’ve been wanting to live in London my entire life, but now that my dream is coming true, I’m realizing how much I’m actually leaving behind. It’s hard to find that balance of happiness and sadness when you make a big move. Everyone I come across asks me how I feel about my departure and I often lie and give a simple answer like, “I can’t wait,” or “Well, I’ve been abroad before so it’s not that big of a deal.” What I really should be saying is something worthy of an hour-long therapy session, but no one wants to hear that, so thankfully I have writing as an outlet instead.

I wanted to choose some of each category to share with readers so they can understand what is currently going through my mind. For everything I’m gaining, I am having to give something up. This is not to sound depressing or detract anyone from becoming an expat, but I think it’s really important to hear the pros and cons of something that completely changes your life. This is not so much of a venting than a reality check (and I’m positive my blog posts will get much happier and excited once I actually arrive in London and can start talking about my adventures).

What I Will Miss…

The Pacific Northwest has always been my home.

 

My boyfriend, family & friends. I’ve always been someone who cares very much about the people in my life, and it’s actually very scary to me to leave those people behind. Even though I am an introvert, I truly value the time I spend with the people I love, and I know that even with the internet and constant connection, it will still be hard to keep up with people and their lives, especially when you’re in different timezones. I just don’t want to lose touch with people or miss out too much on moments in the life of my little sister. It will be hard to balance school, traveling and keeping in contact from so far away.

Going home at any time. When I get sick, my first thought is driving home to see my parents and hole myself up on their king-size bed and watch “I Love Lucy” until I feel better. Distance obviously makes it difficult to just pop home and be in a comfortable place. I’m realizing that the next few years of my life will be very nomadic, and I will be too far away from home to come back just any random time and see my family. It’s always been easy for me to get back home (save for when I studied abroad), and now I won’t have that security blanket of my parents home being so close.

Familiarity of culture. The most difficult thing for any person to do when going to a new country is to adapt to the culture. I am a very flexible person and am happy to learn to be a proper Brit, but I think I’ll constantly be yearning for the things in America that I grew up with and that make me feel comfortable. I’m worried some of the things I am so used to in the US (like Mexican food and dill pickles) will make me yearn for home when I can’t get them without a struggle. I will miss the ease of knowing what to expect because it’s not familiar and built-in to me like American culture is.

What I’m Looking Forward To…

Moving to London has always been my dream.
Moving to London has always been my dream.

 

10-hour layover in Iceland. I think starting out my move abroad with a short adventure in Iceland will give me that first boost of positive energy I’ll need to get me out of my sadness funk of leaving. I’ve only heard good things about Iceland and Reykjavik, and can’t wait to spend some time walking around the city and continuing my solo adventures. The more I travel alone, the more comfortable I’ll get with it and can feel alright with no companion by my side. I am ready to hop on a bus from the airport, find my way into the city and start my year of capturing Europe on my camera and blog.

Living in a major city. I grew up in a rural area, went to college in a college town, studied abroad in a city that felt more like a village and only briefly lived in Los Angeles, so I’ve never been able to call myself an official “city girl.” I have spent some time in London, but I know it will be so different living there, especially in such a central location. I’ll be able to test out my street smarts, learn to live like a local, and finally find those secret places that tourists miss out on. There is so much diversity in London in the people who live there, and I want to become immersed in it.

Rich literary history. I get to go to grad school in London to learn creative writing! I really can’t think of a better place to study this art than the United Kingdom. The UK is the home of so much literary history and it really is an honor to be there in the midst of the greats (and hopefully become one of them). I will get the finest instruction in how to accurately write London and understand the style of the country better than if I had tried to do it from America.

Samantha O'Brochta
Author: Samantha O'Brochta

Samantha was formerly an expat in London in 2014/15 before moving to New York City, where she can be found blogging and taking photographs for her site Some Call Me Adventurous. Samantha has an affinity for traveling the world, watching BBC shows, making people laugh, dancing alone in her room, dressing fashionably, and attempting to make Pinterest crafts with disastrous end results.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I’m moving to London myself in a couple of weeks and it’s good to know the varying emotions I’m feeling seem normal. There’s a lot of excitement/nervousness and I can relate to what your saying especially about family. It’s going to be strange not having that sort of security blanket you feel when you can just go home and know mum will be there. Good luck on your adventure 🙂

  2. I was pleased to read you will be attending school because that will ensure you will make friends quickly. That alone will help you acclimatize to your new home. When I moved to London to study, years ago, it was the friends I made at school who made my time there exciting and helped keep homesickness at bay. Also, many students in London are not from London so they feel far from home too even if they hail from another part of England.
    Being in London you can probably buy American food stuffs at the larger supermarkets or at Fortnum and Masons or Harrods food court.
    Try to do andcsee as much as possible while you are there. Go to The Proms at the Albert Hall, se the races at Ascot, eat strawberries at Wimbledon, visit Buckingham Palace etc. it will leave you with some wonderful memories.
    Wishing you safe journeys and happy times in London. Looking forward to reading your experiences on here.

  3. Hi welcome to jolly old England, please remember once you have had your fill of London there are much nicer places to see…

  4. One less thing to miss: Mexican food! I’ve always heard that there really aren’t Mexican restaurants in Britain, that they really aren’t into it, etc. My daughter and I were in London in May and I was telling her that, well what do you think we found every few blocks?! Yep, Mexican food! I can say for sure that as of May, there was a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the West End (next to the theatre showing Once). So, there’s a little taste of home for you. Not sure about the dill pickles (although they do have Mt. Dew now, just in case you get a craving for that!). Have fun!

  5. I think it’s totally normal to have conflicted emotions, and actually quite sensible – it shows you really have thought about what you’re letting yourself in for, Samantha! But for the same reason, I’m sure you’ll be fine, and will land ready to embrace your new city. Skype and Facetime are a godsend too; not quite the same as quality time with your much-missed people but they totally help make people feel nearer.

  6. Let’s see, where 2 begin?

    Studied Industrial Design Transportation at Lanchester Polytechnic (since renamed Coventry University) in the late 1970s but had been Over there B4, having joined the Army in 1960 & requested 2B stationed in Europe (let Them know I’d taken German in high school).

    Got stationed in Frankfurt, Germany & gone to London for a week as quick as I’d saved up the Leave Time. Loved it! Went back on a 3 1/2-week Motoring Holiday in summer of ’62.

    When the Big Catch Phrase in Seattle became “Will the last person to leave Seattle please turn out the Lights?” I emigrated back to Frankfurt, & later went to Coventry University. Made it Up To London fairly frequently At Weekends. Loved it!

    Surrre enjoyed Riding the Tube, & the double-decker buses even more so 🙂 !!
    If you like Toyshops, my Favourite One In The Whole World (so far) is Hamley’s in Regent Street 🙂 !!

    My Very Favourite Tourist Attraction in England, tho, is the area around Hartfield in Sussex — Perhaps you know, Hartfield was where A. A. Milne & his family had a Summer House during Christopher Robin’s childhood years — Many nearby locations served as settings for the Stories. Hope the store in the high Street in Hartfield, which carries a regular Treasure Trove of Pooh Memorabilia, still there. Also, I fulfilled a
    *major* Life List item in 1998 by dropping some sticks off of the original Poohsticks bridge 🙂 !

    All the *** best **** in your Adventure !!!

  7. Loads of Mexican restaurants in London now. There is one 3 mins walk from where I am sitting right now in my flat. Enjoy London and visit other parts of this country too, such as: Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, Windsor, York, Edinburgh, Winchster, Harrogate, Cardiff, St Ives, Belfast, Aldborough, Lemington Spa etc. etc.!

  8. Samantha, you seem to be a very bright and insightful person and I know that you will enjoy your time in the UK. I never pursued the opportunity to study abroad, but I am fortunate to have a large UK and family and was able to visit them quite a bit in my youth. You will find with technology that you will be able to stay in touch with your boyfriend and family and it will be a lot of fun to share your experiences with them. In a way, they will be able to travel along with you! That’s a good way to think about it. As for making friends, my friend’s son is studying in London right now and is having the time of his life. If you have the courage to step outside your “comfort zone,” and you do (because you’re embarking on this journey), you will meet many like minded people that you will develop bonds with. My wife toured UK for 3 months on a theatrical production in her 40’s and made life long friends. She longs to return! I will look forward to keeping up with you and get ready to have an experience that you will share with your family for years!

  9. A good alternative to Mexican food is Indian food. I used to go there for that when I was living in Naples, Italy. I spent 4 years in Naples, Italy and never really missed Mexican food all that much. Once in awhile they served Mexican in the mess hall or sold Mexican ingredients at the Commissary. I was in the US Navy so I had a base to live on and it was just like southern California with the mediterranean weather. Once off base you found yourself in a completely foreign country. That is why London was my go to place for English language, shopping, books and food. A trip there was not as far as a trip back home or as expensive. You will love London and I am headed back in October for a week I liked it so much.

  10. You may already have this set up, but to ease the transition I would suggest the following I learned from my move to London:

    Bring plenty of British currency with you while you wait for a bank card (unless you have it already). You’ll need it for transportation and food in the meantime.

    Get an A-to-Z street map book of London. I liked my small 6″ spiral bound one for ease of use.

    Map out the closest grocery stores. Tesco is okay in a pinch but you’ll get more bang for your buck and selection in M&S or Waitrose. Also, bring reusable bags as some stores charge for plastic bags.

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