Seeing England With Different Eyes….

What’s it going to feel like…?

Many of us Brits out here venture back for a visit after a time, and things do look and feel different, and sometimes it’s like you’ve never been away – you just slot back in and life is normal for 10 days/2 weeks, and then you get back to the USA and mull it all over.

I asked my friend, Sarah, who is a British expat in Columbia, MD, and who has been here for almost a year now, what she made of her pre-Christmas visit back to the South West of England.

This is Sarah’s tale of Seeing Englandย Withย Different Eyes….

It was with mixed feelings that I returned home to the UK a couple of months ago for a brief visit, after living for nine months in the US. I was returning on my own, primarily to see my mum, who is reluctant to fly now she is older. Life in Maryland had taken on a rhythm of its own and settled into ‘normaI’. On my return home, I knew that I wouldn’t have my children and husband around me as a buffer to any emotions I might feel. Yet, I was excited to be going back to all that was familiar. But how strange would it feel? The answer: despite noticing differences and similarities, it felt overwhelmingly normal!

Sarah (far right) and I hang out with chums in the USA

Sarah (far right) and I hang out with chums in the USA

Catching up with friends and family was amazing. The gift of technology and social media has made the world a much smaller place and we know what is going on in each others’ lives, so whilst we were sitting and chatting, it was like I had never been away. It was a relief to talk with people face to face that you have a history with, not explain word choices, mannerisms or be in fear of making some politically incorrect faux pas!

My visits into the school where I used to work made me appreciate how wonderful the British education system is. Working in US schools has been a real eye opener for me. It was lovely seeing the whole school out to play at one time, teachers having time to bond together in the staffroom at break and lunchtime, the creativity of the curriculum, being utilised in the classroom as soon as you walked through the door. However, I caught elements of stress in the air – new initiatives for marking and assessment and a new curriculum. I was relieved to have temporarily left that behind.

Back in the UK

Back in the UK

There were many things that I had forgotten that were different. Trying to buy some Costa coffees at a service station on my way back home from the airport, much to my friend’s amusement, I was temporarily flummoxed about to use my debit card in the machine. There was no place to swipe it! Whilst shopping, I felt awkward walking around town with a take away coffee, when in the US it is so natural to see people with a coffee cup in their hand, EVERYWHERE!

There were many things I realise I love about being in the UK. Driving low to the ground, with a manual gear box – bliss! Shopping along a beautiful high street, looking at British fashion, going to my favourite bars and restaurants, instinctively knowing my way around, being able to jump onto a bus! I was lucky enough to be home for Remembrance Sunday and at my local church service I felt so proud to be British and extremely patriotic, to the point that I was brought to tears. The display of poppies at The Tower of London was amazing and everyone was talking about it. That’s the kind of thing, as a nation, we do so well.

What didn’t I enjoy? I hated having to take a waterproof or umbrella everywhere with me and the general sogginess of the countryside, which you don’t really get for a prolonged period in Maryland. (It rained a lot when I was home!)

Oh soggy England!

Oh soggy England!

Another emotion that I wasn’t expecting to feel was that of one of detachment from my house that we are renting out in the UK. We had spent many years doing it up and I’d loved living there. We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbours back there, who welcomed me with such excitement on my return , that it made me realise that it’s the people who count, not the bricks and mortar. I’m now excited about what we can next do to our house on our return, with our supportive neighbours around us.

When the time arrived to return to Maryland, I felt incredibly sad to leave mum on her own, but knew home was where my immediate family and dog were and that was at present in the US. What I had learned from my trip, was that it is possible to feel ‘normal’ in two different places that you can call home, no matter how different those places are and have wonderful friends and family in both.

Thanks Sarah! I do look forward to my visit back ๐Ÿ™‚

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16 thoughts on “Seeing England With Different Eyes….

  1. been here 20 years the homesickness for England grows and grows,- my recent visit for 3 weeks in December and with Christmas everywhere I really have to say it was very very difficult to get on the plane back to the USA the food, the telly, the friends the neighbours etc all make me want to get home asap

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  2. It is definitely amazing how you just slot back in to life when you visit home! The weird thing is how nothing really changes, but of course you have changed!!!
    Thanks for linking this up to #myexpatfamily a lovely read! X

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  3. Interesting read! I’ve not been back in 11 years, so I expect I would feel a lot different compared to someone who had only been gone for 9 months. I’d be interested to read an article from someone who has visited after 10+ years. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Having lived in Canada for close to 50 yrs, I get so home sick for England..no matter how long I am away I step right back into my feeling that I have never been gone..when I speak of home in Canada I mean England, when I speak of home in England I mean Canada..Such a cunumdrum, wish I could go home every year..but always something keeps me here..Been married to a Canadian for 44yrs, my adult kids live here and 15 grandkids spread here and the U.S..My dad lives here and my mum passed away in October, my brother lives in Colorado. Was so much easier as a kid, think I will put my pj’s on and go back to bed.๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜›

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  5. Jennie…I have been here 14 years and when I went back to London in 2010 it felt cramped, dirty and noisy even though I used to love all that hustle and bustle. There is just so much space in USA so you don’t feel crowded even in New York. I was very happy to have a roast in a pub but generally I felt somewhat emotionally detached. That is not to say I am in love with the USA it is just more familiar to me now.

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    • ๐Ÿ˜ฆ That makes sense! I’m from a really small town in the UK, so it’s probably quite the same there. Though if I went into Liverpool – nearest big city that I used shop in – I bet it would seem different.

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  6. My best “fox poo” was at our local Graul’s Foodmarket Padonia, when on my first visit to their store they enquired of me at the checkout “Paper or plastic?” my reply “That’s ok, I have cash !
    Have lived here for nearly 16 years have loved every minute, however still love going back to the UK once or twice a year to charge up with family & old riends.

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  7. Someone mentioned it earlier – the hardest thing about moving home (or one of them – the weather possibly being another ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) is that you have changed…but no-one else has. Dont underestimate that. I find that when I return home I am so excited to be here (I love our home town in the UK) that it takes a while for reality to bite. Usually around the time your old friends and family are sick of hearing about your overseas exploits. Which can vary from about half an hour after you first see them (most friends) to a few weeks (my mum…). This is when I have found social media so helpful – it’s always great to “reach out” to others going through the same as you.

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  8. I have lived in Canada for 38 years, but still miss England. Like someone before, I have grown children and Grandchildren here so could not go back to live, but love to go for a visit. The best discovery we made was last year – we hooked up to UKTVEverywhere. If you have not heard of it, Google it – and sign up as soon as possible! It hooks up through your computer but is on our TV screen with a remote just like normal TV. We get ALL of the English TV channels – live or recorded for 2 weeks. That is the only TV we watch now and it has changed the way we feel. It makes you feel part of life there and not quite so homesick – a great way to pass the Canadian Winter evenings! (and of course – the TV shows are amazing!).

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