After spending almost two years living as expats in London, my family and I have settled back into U.S. life, adjusted to new pre-schools, culture and it has been interesting watching my daughter. We left when she was just age 2 1/2, so I doubt she remembers much before leaving for London. I’m finding many of her memories exist there. Not only in vocabulary – it’s pram instead of stroller, and a bin instead of garbage can – but also in her many, many questions. She is in that “Why?” stage and many of her inquiries circle around everyday life and culture.
“Why are we driving everywhere?” (Because it’s cold.)
“Why aren’t there trains?” (Because most U.S. cities are so spread out.)
“Why is there food at the store that is bad for us? (Because it’s cheaper to make.)
“Why is it so cold?” (Because we live in Michigan.)
While we adults know we have returned home to the US, it may seem like a holiday for her, as just yesterday, she said she didn’t want to get on an airplane unless it was going to London.
As great as it was living abroad, you do feel like a section of your US life is missing. I remember this well when I studied in Rome in 1993-94 especially, before the days where everyone had internet, mobile phones, and laptops, since news happenings were not as fluid as they are today. Still, there are news stories we missed (hey who is Casey Anthony?), not to mention births, marriages, deaths, etc. of friends and colleagues. Speaking of news cycle, the news abroad is definitely more world-centered rather than US centered, so while we missed some US stories, we were well versed in what was happening in Africa, Europe, and everywhere else.
We are in a rural area of Southwest Michigan, and live about four blocks from the beach, and it’s beginning to become tourist season here. Dear daughter’s pre-school has finished for the year, another sign of impending summer, vacation, and holidays. You can tell your in a resort town when the local bank has a sign such as this posted in its window.
Rural life has become a bit slower, but it has been nice to slow down. Friends of ours recently moved to Australia with their two children, so I guess it’s our turn to live vicariously through them for a little while.
Perhaps the key to really enjoying life where you are is to live like you are a tourist in your own town. So we’re walking to the beach; seeking out playgrounds and ball fields; visiting the local school carnival; eating ice cream; playing in the rain. One thing traveling has taught me is to live it up where you are because you never know when you might be back there again. No harm in adopting that attitude here I don’t think? It is easy to fall into the trap of being so focused on where are we going and what are we doing that we don’t enjoy life to the fullest. My goal this year is to live in the moment.
- Be glad to be you
- Love what you do
- Don’t give up
- Don’t be a know-it-all