The 23 Hardest Things About Moving Home After Living Abroad – by Chelsea Fagan

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© Photo by marquos

A lot of people won’t understand this article of Chelsea Fagan below, a lot of people won’t even bother try to understand if they’re the kind of narrow-minded people who never change their mind about anything! But this article exactly describes what I’ve been feeling since I came back from England. This text below entirely depicts my daily life since I’m back in France… So let’s just go through it all together!

♥ ♥ ♥ 

1. Having dreams where you’re back in your old city, in your old apartment, and everything is exactly the way it was — and then waking up and realizing that, at least for now, that chapter of your life is closed. This happens almost every night now, and I must say that it is quite disturbing. I’m about to wake up in my good old English bed, facing the sea and ready to have my favourite breakfast ever (whether it is wheat & banana with some milk OR toasts with some yummy orange or lime jelly) but… when I open my eyes, the dream has gone and I’m well and truly in my good old French student bed, yearning for a very British breakfast it is so hard to have when you’re not there anymore :( 

2. Occasionally messing up your speech patterns and using strange syntax because your brain is, in many ways, still working in the second language and you don’t quite know how to change directions without throwing everything into reverse. OMG! This not only happens when I’m talking but also (and maybe worse) when I’m writing (or should I say when I’m trying to write)! It takes me ages to find my words in French, whether I have to speak or write :/ It is actually quite scary when you think about it :/!!! And so as to give you a precise example, the notes I’m taking during my International Relations’ course (a couse that is ALL in French!) are completely bilingual (and I’m not kidding! – it is half English and half French)! So to those of you who would like to borrow my notes someday, I would at least have warned you! 

3. The three or four food items that — beyond just being the overall cuisine that you miss — had come to be your diet staples that you don’t really know how to live without anymore. I know it so well! Every weekend, I’m desperately looking through all the supermarket so as to try to find (at least!) one of those SO cherished British/English items!!! And speaking of, I must say that my dad made me the best surprise ever this weekend when he brought a made-in-England lime jelly jar back home from the supermarket! (And I can thus tell you I had a VERY GOOD British breakfast this morning ^^)

4. Trying to plan your trip back to go visit all of your friends and realizing that airplane tickets are just as expensive as ever, if not more so. That is the only thing I’m actually thinking about ALL THE TIME! I’m trying to plan my future little and always lovely trips to London but yes! the train or airplane tickets are just as expensive as ever and it is harder and harder to get to spend a few days with my very much loved friends :( Well, even though I’m not sure I’ll get to see them around Christmas time, I will at least see them this summer as I’m planning a very exciting two-month internship at HOME  ♥ #LondonBabe ! :D 

5. Having to factor in airplane tickets into your budget on a semi-regular basis, for pretty much the rest of your life, because you’re either going to be there and visiting home or home and visiting there. This only concerns the next one-and-a-half year as I’m planning to move there for good when I pass my third year at uni! But until then, it is true to say that it is a bloody weighty budget!

6. Trying to explain to someone who is going on a vacation to your city all the things they absolutely have to do and realizing that a) it’s impossible to do all of the things that you want them to do in any reasonable frame of time and b) you’re probably just confusing them with all of your overwhelming, sometimes incoherent advice. And I apologise for being such a ‘burden’ every time someone tells me he or she is going to London… but I love this place so much and I want to share all those things I’m feeling and all those things I love to do when I’m there so badly that I can truly be more annoying than your grandmother!!! And I usually get even more excited than the person who’s going to London… Hopeless? Naww, simply passionate! ♥

7. Becoming incredibly jealous of anyone who is going there on vacation, because you wish so badly that you could be going (and part of you selfishly believes that they’ll never appreciate it enough, or in the right way). Yeah! I admit! This is SO TRUE!!! I get jealous of people who are going there while I can’t and it’s also true that it makes me kinda crazy because I think they won’t appreciate it the way it deserved to be appreciated! I’m pleading guilty on that point… 

8. Suddenly remembering all of the “touristy” things you never took the time to do — monuments you didn’t see, museums you didn’t tour — because you told yourself you would get to it next month, next year, someday. But I obviously never had time to do everything I wanted to do, simply because there are SO MANY great things to do in London but also in the whole country!!! I will visit England in depth someday, I’m pretty sure of that or at least I’ll make the good resolution at New Year’s Eve to do my best to achieve this goal :D! Every country is packed with so many beautiful things but when the country you’re talking about is the one you consider as your home, there’s more than a simple need to visit the place, you truly have to be part of it! 

9. Having Skype sessions with people back there and wishing you could reach through the screen and give them a hug, or grab something off of their plate that you haven’t gotten to eat in forever. Even though I’d love to Skype my people way more often, and though I love this concept of instantaneous communication, we all have to say that Skype is the master of BUGS! :/

10. No longer living in your adopted language, where every cultural reference is a new gift to be discovered, and you pick up expressions and slang like a child finding shells along a beach. Oh my god! It might actually be what I miss the most! Learning everyday, from every situation, a bit more about the beautiful language of Shakespeare! And as I’m always yearning to know more, uni is barely enough (but don’t get me wrong, I still learn a lot from my teachers and THANK GOD!).

11. Knowing that it would be selfish of you to expect all of your friends to come visit you here because transportation is so expensive, but always keeping a spare bed or at least a sleeping bag for anytime someone makes the trip. Haha I do think about that kind of situations a lot! But I know my friends are awesome and I am thus sure that some of them will make it anyway! Careful though, I don’t expect you guys, who’ll read this, to travel the all way to see me (I’m not that selfish!) but I miss you a lot and I wish I could see you more often… BUT the transport tickets are so expensive that it is very hard for everyone to come over (whatever the side of the Channel)!

12. Fearing that, whether it’s the language itself or the person you were there, that it’s all a muscle that will atrophy if you don’t constantly work it. (By the way, there is absolutely no shame in language or country-based meetups now that you’re back home — in fact, they’re kind of an essential part of life from now on.) This is another very true thing! I feel like I’m losing a bit of what I learnt… consequently, I’m working so much harder so as to keep the same level! I’m not the kind of girl who rests on her laurels! 

13. Worrying that you’re bringing up your old country too much, even if you lived there for years, because you know that people perceive it as “pretentious” or “bragging” if you talk about the place you used to live. I don’t know if everyone hates me now for talking all the time about England and about how amazing this country is, but I tend to think I’m starting to annoy a few people :/ Well, I’m so sorry about that, but I’m not gonna shut my mouth and stop speaking my own mind just to please you! I love England and I know it’s not perfect, but it is fine for me because in 2 years, I won’t leave yearning for a better system, I will leave for cultural reasons! I will leave for this culture that matches my personality better than the French one does! So, as I wrote it in a status on Facebook on my personal account, I just wanna say one thing to the people who are trying to bring me down and break my dreams (dreams are what makes us live, remember?! Stop living in your pessimistic and pathetic world!!!): I’ve made my decision, you know. I’m gonna leave France in less than 2 years and I don’t need and don’t want your approval! This is not personal, so please, don’t take it personally. I’ve also got my friends in France and above all my family. And though you’re normally all supposed to support my decision, there are still some of you who are becoming real burdens when it comes to my departure! So to all of you, I’m telling you this: I will be fine in England because it is where I belong and I’m just asking you one tiny little thing… I’m not asking you to agree or even be happy about that decision, I’m only asking you to respect it! Thank you.”

14. Wishing that you could take everyone who wants to travel by the shoulders, give them a shake, and tell them that it’s possible if you want to do it, and that there are so many different ways to make the logistics of it all work if you’re willing to try. I won’t say a lot more about this, if only quote Michael Jordan who once said: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” I’m part of the third category of people and I hope you’re part of it too! ;) Some will say that I’m a dreamer and that I’m too optimistic, but when it comes to your dreams, my loves, nothing is impossible, you always find a way to make it happen! Plus, I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity to say a BIG FAT ‘THANK YOU’ to my dad, who finally understood my place was in England and my love for this country and its people and who promised me he would do everything he could to help me make my dreams come true! So I just want to say… THANK YOU, once again and I LOVE YOU, DAD ♥

15. Getting so frustrated when people tell you how “lucky” you were to live abroad, when you know intimately how much tedious paperwork, hard work, and trying in the face of rejection it actually required. You know how little of it actually has to do with luck, especially when you’re actually working in your adopted country. This is also true but I think although the paper work is a real pain in your ass (sorry about this phrase, but it’s kinda true though!), people who have lived abroad, WE actually are VERY LUCKY, whatever the difficulties were at the very beginning! We must at least admit that! 

16. Experiencing these weird, listless times where all you want to do is listen to music and watch movies from that country so you can feel, if only for a minute, like you’re back there. And I’m trying to do this as often as possible but my uni work already takes me a pretty long time everyday (even during the holidays!) and I don’t always have time to experience those little things that are getting so rare they’re like TREASURES when they actually happen! ♥ They’re those treasures, which take me back to England, which take me back home for a few hours ♥

17. Trying to recreate some of your favorite dishes and — even if you are successful — realizing that it’s never quite the same without the surroundings and people that go with it. Yep! I’m doing that too but without the local ingredients and people, it doesn’t taste the same at all!!! :( 

18. Eventually realizing that there just isn’t enough space on your wall to fit all of the photos, maps, and prints that you want to put up from your time abroad — and that you’ll kind of look like a crazy person if you do. Well, I guess I am a crazy person then :p! My room at uni is full of photos of all my friends and all the places I miss a lot! And well… I’m supposed to have only one scrap board in my room but this scrap board with all my photos (seen in this post >>here<<) is actually camouflaged with the walls ><!!! But try to understand me, I mean, I’m with them this way (or kinda)… they’re in my heart anyway but it is simply a way to make them be more present :D ! 

19. Postcards. So many postcards everywhere, from so many people. Same story as above ^^

20. Spending way too much of your hard-earned money at speciality stores that carry the stuff you simply can’t live without, and hating yourself every time you drop 10 dollars on something that was 2 dollars back there. LIKE my very cherished tea, yeah!!! The price of a tiny box of tea bags in France is just ridiculous!!!!!!! That’s why I try to order online and make my English tea come from England directly! Plus it’s way better when it ‘tastes England’ ^^!!!

21. Having no one to share your love of the music from your time abroad, and having everyone look at you really strangely when you put on some obscure German rap or Argentinian pop when you have a house party. Haha yes, this one also is soooo true!!! But as far as I’m concerned, I just fell (EVEN MORE) in love with the British pop music and above all with the soundtracks of musicals (I was by the way a lot keen on already ♥ ♥ ♥) But when I came back with all my music, extracted from diverse musicals, my brother and some of my friends (don’t deny it, you guys! :p) looked at me like I was the weirdest weirdo ever! But they don’t appreciate, what I call, GOOD MUSIC!!!! ^^

22. Occasionally slipping in an expression or word from that language, without meaning to, into an otherwise English sentence (and knowing that everyone thinks you’re really pretentious for doing it, even though it was completely an accident). Oh this happens a lot and people think I just wanna show off but it’s not true! I simply can’t find my words in French anymore! (see n°2) And that’s annoying enough not to be able to speak in my own mother tongue properly without you rubbing salt in the wound besides! 

23. Realizing that you’re not really sure what “home” is anymore, because even though this is technically where you come from, you’re not sure you fit into the shape of the puzzle piece that you left behind. In a lot of ways, your time abroad felt much more like home, and maybe you won’t ever really feel settled until you can actually call it that — even if you’re all too familiar with how difficult immigration is. Being where you belong, maybe not today but someday, is something you’re willing to work for. Well, I think this statement only concerns a bunch of people and I’m DEFINITELY among them! I found the place, but more importantly maybe the culture I belonged to, and as I’ve already said it a thousand times (if not more), I will do what is necessary to find my way back home ♥

Source : Though Catalog  + my little personal touch all in pink 

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6 Comments

  1. Amélie
    November 3, 2013 / 10:50 PM

    I’ll repeat it again, Marie: You will go back there, live there and be happy in England. Because it’s definitely your home and I’ve rarely seen such a determined person as you are.
    Be patient, you’ll get what you wish, I’m sure of that.
    And maybe it’s hard for people to hear how better England is for you than France, but afterall, you’ve found your place there, so NEVER be ashamed to claim it! <3

    • Marie
      November 4, 2013 / 7:37 AM

      Aww thanks so much Amelie, you’re such a good friend! Hope you’ll be able to study in California next year! That is sincerely the very best I can wish you! It is an amazing experience and now you know what to expect when you come back ^^
      Much love <3
      Xx

  2. Jade
    November 13, 2013 / 8:25 AM

    Hi Marie,
    This is a great post (I read it via a shared link on Facebook), thanks for sharing your thoughts. As an English teacher, Brit and a Linguistics student, I have a question: You use a lot of American English in your writing (realized, jelly, airplane etc.) – don’t get me wrong, your English is fantastic, I’m just wondering if in France, students learn American English these days? I live and work in Korea where American English is the norm, but I assumed some European countries learn British English as opposed to American. What do you think?
    Thanks!

    • Marie
      November 13, 2013 / 5:35 PM

      hey thanks for your lovely comment!It means a lot :)
      Well, so as to answer your question, I’d say European countries (well, let’s say France because I only know about this system; it is just an assumption I make when it comes to the other European countries…) mainly learn American English. For my part, I’ve always had French teachers in middle school and high school, who have learnt American English… and now that I’m at uni studying languages, most of my English teachers are American (if not all of them!). This semester is actually the first and only semester I will have had a ‘real’ British teacher ^^
      So that might explain why my English is slightly americanised :) though I’ve spent six months in England and am still doing my very best to get closer and closer to the British English :)
      Hope I answered everything :)
      It was nice to have the reaction of an English teacher :)
      Best wishes
      Xx

      • Jade
        November 16, 2013 / 5:05 AM

        Thanks for your response! Very interesting. I’m sure if you move to the UK, you will pick up British English quickly, especially since you seem to have such a great aptitude for learning the language :)
        Good luck! :)

        • Marie
          November 16, 2013 / 11:48 AM

          You’re welcome! It’s my pleasure to share!
          And Thank you :) It means a lot :)
          xx

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