My journey from a tiny town in Texas to a fishing village in England has been a long and winding road. I met my fiancé while studying at University when he was on an exchange program with his school from The Netherlands. After several years of long-distance dating and one beautiful daughter spawned from a summer vacation, I relocated to the land of tulips and became a full-fledged EU resident. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a gypsy soul and after three years in The Netherlands, I had begun to get itchy feet. After my fiancé got a job offer in a small town on England’s south-eastern coast, we packed our bags and moved to the British Isles with little hesitation.
When my family and I first arrived in the UK, I was ecstatic to be living in a country that spoke English and understood the need for a good breakfast. There have still been things that have made the adjustment slightly bumpy. People in England have no concept of an appointment, and they are always showing up two hours after an agreed upon time. It annoys me to no end. The NHS is amazing until you need something more than tylenol, and then you face a 6 month waiting list for a ‘specialist’. British folk eat beans with everything, and now my daughter seems to think that ‘beans on toast’ is a normal meal choice. Then there are the naked people. Why do British people get naked at the first sign of sunlight? People, it is 55 degrees outside, your shirts should still be on. Obviously these things are all minor, and we have been very lucky to meet great friends and settle into English life quite well.
The best thing about living in England is location, location, location. The town we live in is a 30-minute train ride to France, one hour to London, and only a 4 hour drive back to The Netherlands for holidays. We also live down the road from the famous White Cliffs of Dover and countless historical sites and ancient cities. In America, any building that pre-dates 1900 is probably a protected historical landmark or museum. Not to mention, public transportation in Texas (besides the major cities) amounts to a Greyhound Bus that won’t be getting you anywhere quickly. I am not hating on my homeland, but the ability to fly to most European countries in less than three hours is a definite perk.
I love spending the weekends with my daughter on the beach and combing for sea glass or exploring the rock pools for crabs. She still has a couple of months before she begins Kindergarten, Reception as they call it here, so I am trying to get in as much as we can before she is no longer home with me. She does spend a couple of mornings a week at nursery and has grown quite the little English accent. Sometimes it makes me sad that she has little ties to her American heritage other than a slight twang from her mother and presents that come in the mail around the holidays. Having kids and living abroad has its joys and disadvantages. As an expat you are happy to provide your child with so many amazing life experiences, but as a daughter, sister, and best friend it is hard to keep them so far from loved ones.
I absolutely love my life as an American expat in the UK. Sure, it rains way more often than I would like and I find it incredibly disturbing how many English people think that my Texas accent hails from Ireland, but it is my home. I don’t think England will be our permanent abode, (nomadic spirit, remember?) but I am happy to be here for now and plan on enjoying every second.
Jessica is author of the blog The Fly Away American where she shares her experience as an American Expat in England and the travel adventures along the way.