We have lived overseas for 22 months. I am so proud of what we have achieved over here and how we have managed to make a home for ourselves in a place that is so far from home.
I really struggled with homesickness to begin with though and a wrote a lot in a journal. I referred to the homesickness as being similar to processing grief. I felt very sad about leaving my family and friends behind. I then felt really angry that I had made that choice, and that I felt guilty about it all the time. Gradually, I accepted our decision to move. I got used to communicating with my family in a different way and started to enjoy the perks of living overseas.
The crazy thing is that the 2 year contract is now over, we will return to the UK at the beginning of July to see family and friends before the next chapter of the adventure begins.
The things I miss the most about the UK (apart from family and friends) are:
- The NHS. I miss the local doctors’ clinic and the feeling of being part of a smaller community. I miss the friendly service we had back home.
- Pies. I love pies. Really.
- Draught ale. With a pie.
- The blue sky. Is there anything better than a gorgeous sunny day in the UK, maybe sitting with family in a beer garden?
- Driving. Having the freedom to explore as a family in the car. Music on, windows down.
- The view out to see over the Solent. This just brings back memories of hot, sunny days and blue skies.
- Queues. Or more importantly, as I hate waiting, I miss a queuing system that everyone understands. In China, you have to be very aware of what the person behind you is doing. If you don’t keep your eye on them and your elbows out they’ll move past you and squeeze into a gap that isn’t there faster than you can say ‘excuse me’. Which of course they won’t understand.
- Tap water. We are so lucky in the UK to have clean tap water. I will treat myself to a big glass as soon as we get to the hotel.
- British bread. For toast with lots of butter, sandwiches with extra cheese, to dip in hummus…
- Access to a wide range of cheese!
Fortunately, I can have some of these things when we are away from the UK, it’s not the same but it’s enough to tide me over. I do think there is something really special about being so excited about these things though. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
What I don’t miss:
- Road rage. Some of the questionable/insane driving I see here gives me road rage and I’m not even driving. Sadly, it is my first instinct to get frustrated. Other drivers in China generally do not care. I hate road rage. I am guilty of doing it, but it’s so ugly and unnecessary.
- Expensive petrol prices. It brings back bad memories of having no money and trying to drive so economically in order to conserve every last drop. It’s so expensive to fill up the tank on a big car!
- Being able to understand every conversation. It’s tiring listening in on everybody’s conversations. I am so used to zoning out nowadays.
- Realising people can understand us. Yes, I know there are Chinese people who speak English but when the majority don’t it’s easy to feel in a bubble when out in public. The number of times that we have started to argue on holiday and I’ve realised that actually because we are back in the UK, people can understand us and are listening.
Of course, there are many more things I miss and don’t miss. But the fact that I’m in a position where I can even miss these things and look forward to a holiday in the UK is pretty special to me for now!