Friday 8 January 2010

The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Living in a Foreign Country...

I have been living in Spain for about eighteen months now and sadly the time has come for us to say goodbye... well, I say 'sadly', but to be honest the move back to the UK brings with it mixed feelings.

When we moved out here it was with the dream many Brits have - year round sunshine, a slower pace of life, more family time - but things just haven't worked out that way. We thought we were moving out more prepared than most; my parents have lived out here for several years now and we have been out on holiday so many times that we knew the area and knew other ex-pats to help get us started on our new life.

Unfortunately, being on holiday in a place and actually living here are two very different things. The 'slow pace of life' we had looked forward to quickly became frustrating (it literally takes forever to get anything done here and there are so many bank holidays it's a wonder anyone actually does any work!). We have also really missed being able to communicate with people. While my Spanish has come on leaps and bounds since we got here - frankly it is embarrassing to think how little I knew when we first moved - I still can't have a 'normal' conversation. Being able to gossip with other mums while picking your child up from nursery is one of the pleasures of motherhood, but when you can only comment on the weather and then you don't understand what the hell they've said back to you, it can make gossipping slightly difficult.

Of course here have been other things I have missed - shopping, English supermarkets, books and movies, bars and clubs - just things that make up a normal life. Even so, there are things I am going to miss dearly when we go back and the main thing is my parents. They have been with us every step of the way (probably a bit too closely for my husbands liking!) and it has been wonderful watching them get to know their granddaughter and I am very sad that we won't be around for baby number two. I will also miss Bella's nursery, who have been wonderful, and hearing my daughter come out with Spanish phrases that I then have to look up in the dictionary.

Still, we must look forward and I am excited about starting again, especially being so close to London again, where we spent several crazy years in our twenties, and being near our best friends and their baby-boy.

Advice I can give to people thinking about escape the terrible British weather... do it! Despite everything I am glad we had the balls to give it a go and we didn't just sit around bitching about how life could be so much better. We actually tried to do something about it. Okay, so it didn't work out, but we are returning to the UK with a different perspective on our lives there and what we actually need to make us happy.



  1. Girl, I hear you on the 'normal life' thing. I lived just outside Monaco for a year, and everyone I tell that to says, "Oh wow -- how awesome that must have been!"

    It's a great place to visit, but spending day in, day out, without a car, fitting all your groceries in the bottom basket of the stroller, not being able to see first-run movies in English, have your pick of English books, conversations with people (you'd be amazed at how much conversation centers around your same culture, and when you're not doing that, it's tough). Not to mention everything being closed on Sundays, even grocery stores!

    But you're right -- it is a great experience to see life in a foreign country, and you find you become very creative and resourceful. Good luck on your move back to the UK!

  2. I think this is fabulous. I've traveled around, but never have stayed long enough to really buckle down and struggle through some of the everyday activities we often take for granted in a new, strange place.

    You have grown and it will be rewarding in your family life and in your writing, even if not immediately discernible. But as a mom, we know that our efforts will fruit in time.

    And I like the fact that you are active in your goals - it is too easy to bitch...but always fun with a little bit of 'wine-ing'.

  3. What a brave thing you did, moving to a new country AND moving back home. I hope things work out for you.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. It has been a difficult decision to go back, but it was one we had to make. I'm sure we will look back on the last year and a half with fond memories!

  5. As one half of the "parents" may I say how much we will miss our "kids" but Marissa get that guest bedroom up and running I have got a lot of London shopping to catch up on. Oh yes and to see my grandchildren. Will miss you loads and my special Bellarine.

  6. I love living abroad. I love barely knowing who Jade Goody is. Don't have kids, of course, and doubt I've ever had a 'normal' life! And hope I never will!

    I live in my own bubble anyway. 2 weeks in the UK is enough for a cape of gloom to hover over me!But then, as Joe Jackson said, it's different for girls.

  7. Marissa I hope the move back is everything you wish for as most of the UK is covered in snow at the moment. My husband turned down jobs all around the world because we knew we'd been lucky enough to find our personal heaven on earth. I hope you find yours.