They say the one constant in life is change, and if that’s true then the one constant in expat life is goodbyes. I had a different post planned for this week but I wanted to write about this instead: the universal truth of expat life. I’m not the first person to write about it and I won’t be the last, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to put my words out into the ether of the Internet.
Soon, I will be bidding farewell to my home of Exeter, England. I read once that we can never return “home” because places will never be the same as when we left them. We change, they change, the people in them change.
I haven’t lived in Exeter for a while, but I still consider it a home. It’s a bit ironic, really. When I studied abroad at Exeter, I did a poetry dissertation which focused on the complexities of defining “home” – it was my first time living in the same country that my maternal grandmother came from, my first time living abroad, and I spent a lot of time pondering what home means. It was one point in my seemingly lifelong mission to understand what home is. Four years later, Exeter is a place I consider home.
I’ve been reflecting on expat life quite a bit lately. Fellow blogger Rachel from A Nesting Nomad is about to start her expat journey (from the UK to Australia!) and I recently answered some questions for her about expat life that got me into this little reflective mode. So when I stumbled across a list of Expat questions from Sandra, a Swiss expat in Boston, I thought I would give it a go! I realized that I don’t actually write about “expat life” in particular very much on here, even though it’s really underlying every experience I have in this country. So… maybe you will learn something new about me, and what it’s like to be an expat!
Last week, like seemingly everyone else in the world, I saw La La Land. I did the rainy, cobblestone walk downtown with two of my best friends in this city. I snuggled down into the old, springy seats of our city’s old fashioned cinema, my orange soda and popcorn in hand. (The popcorn in this country isn’t quite the same – it’s rounder and harder and sweet and all-around healthier tasting, which is bizarre). For me, going to the movies is a tradition – the smell, the darkening lights, the velvet seats, and crunching popcorn, the rolling credits (I always, always wait ’til the end…hence a few awkward first dates).
Yesterday on the commute back from class, I found myself sitting on a double-decker bus, watching a Royal Navy bomb squad disassemble eight grenades 300 meters from the roundabout we were stuck in.
Eight unexploded bombs were found during road works on Plymouth’s most central road.
I’ve always thought of myself, and proudly, as a Northerner. Growing up in Michigan, the vast snowy peninsula that snuggles into Canada, I developed the liberal Northern politics. I have the accent, the affinity for apples and gingerale and lakeside fishing, the reckless driving, and the tough ability to withstand extreme cold temperatures and condescend to any snow days south of the Mason-Dixie line (tbh probably any snow days south of Detroit)…