Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Expat Journey

My Journey as an Expat

I have now lived in the US for 10 years, I moved here shortly after marriage. My husband came here to do residency. I followed a few years later starting our life in Cleveland. The first year was exciting to learn a new country but very hard, small things like learning to drive on the other side of the road and being alone while he worked. It was also very hard to get work initially as a registered dietitian I had to take the RD exam here and then try and convince a potential employer to hire me while needing them to help me get a work visa. So for over a year I was out of work, it was a valuable learning curve and insight into life as an immigrant. I did network with other dietitians at meetings and shadow a few and attended some interviews. 

a picture I took next to my NC dietitian license in the office :-)

We then moved to North Carolina a small town called Elkin and my husbands employer kindly offered to hire me too, I worked in a small hospital with a colleague and also did clinics for the doctors offices. Working again was wonderful and overall not that different from the UK. I slowly smiled and called vitamins in an American way and learnt about Southern food and culture. I still say tomatoes like a Brit though and eat very internationally. In 2008 we moved to a bigger city Winston Salem, a lovely place with more to do, a great arts scene, lovely parks and rich in history with the living museum of Old Salem. 

We now have two small children here who hold both an American and US passport. It’s not been an easy journey I have been very homesick over the years especially after the kids came along longing for more support. As an expat I think we all feel quite a bit of guilt about not having our kids growing up near family and living away. But little by little our adopted countries become home as we settle and make friends. Slowly the culture soaks into us I have spent most of my twenties and early thirties here developing more as a person and professionally. I have networked with my profession at the State level, done professional speaking and have great opportunities. I have also given talks at British universities about social media when I visit home for vacations. 

Last month we took a huge step and became citizens I will admit it may not have been so easy to do if I had needed to give up my British nationality. But becoming an American citizen felt right to become part of the country and commit. When we took the oath with 85 other people from 45 countries it was actually quite emotional it’s amazing that after so many years folks come and join this country. I loved the sense of unity and that we are all in it together to help one another and share our talents. 

my amazing Grandma, she once told me the job of a parent is to help our kids get wings so they can fly away. 

My parents at The Highland games in Winston Salem, this one made me smile as my Dad is holding Scotland's flag.  Me living here has been hard for them particularly my Mum. 

the view from my in law's terrace, Chennai India

our wee guy at the pumpkin patch

No one knows what the future holds or where we will live but for now I have made the choice to make this home, not to keep looking back and pining for days gone by. Both countries have moved on and changed from when we left.

a beach in Fife Scotland 

 The UK is always my homeland and my first love but I feel as expats committing and making where we are now home brings happiness and a sense of contentment. Reassure loved ones that you love them and where you grew up but someone once said to me “it isn’t that you have decided to leave but that they have decided to stay” we all live where we have opportunity and a good life for our families.

So the journey and adventures continue its not always easy but full of wonderful experiences and amazing connections with folks along the way, thanks for being part of it :-)

If you would like to hear of others experiences as expats and fun cultural tips check out this blog, I shared this post on there.

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