Now that it’s been over two and a half years since I moved here, I’ve found my footing in this city professionally and personally, and the apartment we’re renting is finally feeling like home. (It’s also become home to half the world by now given all the visitors we’ve already hosted…see my previous posts on how to play Host with the Most from what I’ve learned in practice.)
It wasn’t always this way, though, and working with London Relocation has given me the opportunity to reach out to other expats moving to or already living here who have found themselves in a similar situation. I’ve frequently addressed the topic of the accompanying or trailing spouse (as that’s what I was, and there a-plenty of us here, let me just tell ya), and I’ve actually shared my relocation journal with you (see “The American Expat in London Diaries“). It’s not often these days, though, that I care to delve into what a difficult transition that London move was for me at the time; I prefer to celebrate the positives, the opportunities I’m enjoying so much right now as a result of that relocation, as well as scheduling those treasured visits home to the US where my heart, my family, does still reside. In reviewing the discussion archives of our social network, however, I stumbled on an entry I’d posted there a while back to get the ball rolling for other expats to share their most difficult relocation challenges, and thought I’d share it here with you, too:
“Since I got married only 3 months before moving here (and my husband was still living in a different state at the time!), my relocation transition was twofold—getting adjusted to both a different country and having a new roommie for life
Unfortunately, since it was my husband’s job that brought us over here (a move that I strongly resisted from the outset because I loved my job and the people back home), it became too easy to use that as a reason for channeling my resentment toward him, and I spent those first few months working in opposition of him as opposed to teaming up to get through it together. That was a tremendous burden and had the effect of making me feel even lonelier here. It really just took some time and finding my own job and friends here to fill the voids the move had caused, and once I felt whole again, I could finally attain a better perspective and replace my resentment with more appreciation of my husband, the transition he’d had to go through as well, the support he has and does offer me, and the fact that we now enjoy London and each other so much.
I think a big part of what I needed to get past was feeling like a victim of my circumstances, and the solution was to take responsibility for my choices that led me here as well (in choosing to marry my husband and choosing to support his career path). I needed to give support as well rather than just demand it all the time, and that helped us reach mutual understanding and respect for each other’s individual life goals and how those can intertwine to help us achieve our shared ones.”
For whatever it’s worth, know that strength of mind within yourself and empathy shared with others can go a long way in restoring you to confidence and happiness if you do find yourself grappling with a mixture of emotions about relocating to London.