1st December 2014 had arrived – the day that I would leave my comfortable life in Kansas behind forever for a completely new chapter. The time had come to pack up the car with my suitcases and I wanted none of it. Panic had set in and the anxiety overwhelmed me. ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ ‘If this was the right thing, why am I so upset?’ I remember thinking. It was one of the hardest mornings and one I’ll remember so vividly for the rest of my life. I calmed down and was reassured by my mom, sisters and fiancé, that this was for the best, that I was off to exciting and new pastures, that I would be happy once we touched down in London. They were right.
We made it to the airport and in typical fashion, we hit the bar for a send off drink, a little tradition my Mom and I have done every time I’ve flown to London in the past. This time was different though. This time I sat there, in floods of tears, feeling nothing but despair because I didn’t want to leave. Saying goodbye to my mom was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. When would I see her again? I didn’t know, which made leaving so much harder. This time, I wasn’t coming back in a week or two, this was for an unknown amount of time, and it’s the unknown that is terrifying.
Saying goodbye to the people you love is hard. It’s not fun and I’m going to be honest – it’s the worst part of living halfway across the world from your family. I know this sounds dramatic, but it does feel like something is being ripped away from you and it’s really hard to focus on anything else for those few hours. But eventually, the heartache fades. As soon as I got to London, I had so many other things to focus on – setting up a bank account, getting a NI number, searching for a job, not to mention being unimaginably happy to be with my fiancé and letting it all sink in. It was all new and all exciting and I didn’t have time to focus on being sad.
I’ve had to say goodbye a few more times since then, and sometimes are easier than others, but the truth is, it will always be momentarily heartbreaking. It’s okay to cry and feel emotional – truth is, you will likely feel really overwhelmed, and that’s 100% normal. It’s all part of the process. It’s emotionally draining and it may take a few days to feel back to your self again, but if I’ve learned anything from having to say goodbye quite often, it’s to allow yourself the time to recuperate but remain focused on the positives and always have something to look forward to. Make it a point to plan the next time you’ll see your family, or plan a holiday, or just a night out with friends.
Also, think about the laughs and the good times you just had with your family and friends. Think about all of the wonderful experiences in your life and why you love living in the country you are in. Skype and FaceTime are life-savers as well. Just a tip – you can get different Skype Packages on your phone to make unlimited calls to any country for as little as £5 a month. I use FaceTime quite often and it’s free.
If you’d like to contribute a guest post about your experiences being an expat and moving/living abroad, I’d love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org.