We decide when the time is right – #ExpatWisdom – Lauren

Welcome back to another post in the Expat Wisdom series! This months wisdom post is from Lauren of The Expat Chronicle. I really enjoyed reading this one, especially the quote at the end, let me know what you think of it!

There I was. Standing in the two-car garage of our home in Howell, New Jersey putting the finishing touches on an 18th Century armoire. My furniture restyling business had really taken off. Our garages which once housed both cars were now piled high with new projects to work on. Exciting times!
As I cleaned up my paint and brushes, I could hear neighborhood children playing in their front yards. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining. Life felt kind of…perfect actually. We lived in a wonderful community with tons of friends, great schools for our three kids and family only minutes away.
And despite the fact that our life was exactly where we wanted it to be…we decided one day to leave it all.
It’s always been a dream of my husband and mine to live abroad. However, those dreams took a backseat once we got married and started a family. What was once our passion turned into watching other families achieve theirs on the American TV show House Hunters International.One Year Later Lessons Learned.jpg
Still, we loved our life and had no regrets. We couldn’t imagine doing something insane like moving to another country! Until opportunity came knocking and awoke the dream in us both.
A job position was offered to my husband in beautiful Barcelona. I remember the night he came home and shared the news. Instead of jumping out of my chair with excitement…I cried! (Not my most supportive wife moment, I’ll admit!)
“Why?”, “How?”, “Now?!” These were some of the first words from my mouth. I mean, the timing just wasn’t right – horrible…really! If we put off the relocation another few years we’d be more “ready”, I told myself. After all, timing was everything…
But in the weeks that followed and after my emotions had simmered, I started doing some research. I began learning about the city we could call home – the people, the culture, schooling, holidays, traditions, food. I went from being terrified of the idea to falling in love with it.
Catalan Flag in La Poble de Lliet.JPG
One day I finally said to Tony, “We have an awesome life here. It couldn’t be better…and I want it to always feel that way. If we don’t move abroad, we may end up resenting things here that we truly love.” I felt a lump in my throat after the words came out. But in my heart, I knew I was right.
The right timing. People will spend their whole lives waiting for it. Making sure all the pieces of their puzzle align. But as they wait, the years pass and eventually the opportunity is lost. We couldn’t let that happen.
So our house went on the market (sold in ONE week!). We sat our children down and told them our plan to move abroad. You can read about that experience and how we approached such a sensitive topic in Expat Kids: Just Along for the Ride http://theexpatchronicle.net/along-for-the-ride/ We packed away our beloved treasures, most of which could not come overseas with us.
Those weeks of preparation were some of the scariest and most exciting of my life. Like inching your way up to the top of a steep roller coaster unable to see the thrilling drop below. What if we hated it? What if the kids did not adjust well? How about the language?!
So many concerns and questions swirling – but still, we didn’t turn back. And after 18 months of living in Barcelona, my life will never be the same. This experience has changed me; it’s changed us all. Had we waited for the perfect time when it made total sense for us to move, we would still be waiting…
Sure, sometimes I still have those days when I wonder if leaving it all behind was worth it. We miss having a backyard, a fireplace, homemade blueberry crumble and American football. We miss good friends and of course our beloved family.
But then I watch my seven year old proudly point on a map to all the different countries where his school friends come from; children he would have otherwise never known. I laugh as my two year old happily plays tag with our doorman, who speaks no English other than the word “bye”. I marvel at how far my own language skills have sharpened as a result of living in Spain, even if I still have a long way to go!
And I think about so many new adventures! In a short 18 months here, we’ve visited many medieval villages in Spain and major European cities like Vienna, London, Prague, Paris and Lake Como.
Yes we left so much behind, as all expats have to. But we’ve also gained more in return than we could ever put a value on. The timing was not perfect for us. We would have never chosen to leave when we did. But our wonderful life back home in the United States is waiting for us – when we’re ready to go back to it.
Afterall, “Ships are safest when in port – but that’s simply not what they’re built for…”

What did you think of this post? I think Lauren had some really great advice for us! If you have an expat story you would like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at LittleMissExpatBlog@gmail.com
See you next week!
Little Miss Expat

It’s that time of the year again… ‘Moving Season’

Hi guys,

As the school year draws to a close, and the summer holidays are getting nearer, I for one am super excited! But for any expatriates, it ushers in this dreaded time of year, the moving season. For anyone who lives abroad, or goes to an international school, the end of the school year means saying goodbye to some people but also meeting a lot of new people in September.

I for one really dislike this ‘season’, it will always be really hard to see friends leave, and any expatriate will know the struggle. Especially in a place like Dubai where a lot of people only stay for around 2 years before they move onto their next home. And for someone who’s used to being the one leaving, it’s hard to be the one staying behind and saying goodbye.

Last year one of my really good friends moved to Paris, I still miss seeing her every day, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit her. I thought it might be interesting to get her input on this topic and ask her a few questions about what it felt like when she moved. Here they are!

What did you find the hardest thing about moving?

Honestly, the hardest thing about moving was adapting to a new city. Since I moved to Paris, at first, it was really difficult for me to speak French when ordering coffee, or shopping around. My mom or friends would have to order food for me! Eventually, I had to start speaking French and doing things myself. I just needed the confidence! Another thing was socializing with new people. I found it really awkward to start conversations with new people (despite being very talkative) because I was scared that they would judge me. But don’t hesitate to start a conversation with someone! They might end up being one of your really close friends.

How did you feel in your first few days in your new home?

I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed actually! When our boxes arrived, we had 168 of them! Everything was all over the place! I felt the most stressed with my own stuff because I had to find my school supplies, arrange my room (which was a complete disaster), and figure out where to place everything. A few days later, all the boxes were gone and we could finally enjoy our new home! I really love our apartment now and feel completely relaxed when I come into my room.

Looking back now, are you happy where you are now and that you moved?

I am really happy that I moved. However, it did take me a few months to actually realize that I wasn’t going to move back to Dubai. I was really sad and down at the beginning of our move (despite being in Paris!), but I knew that I was going to visit Dubai and keep in touch with my friends 24/7. I’ve learned so many things about this city, and have had so many new and fun experiences! Paris is a really amazing place to live in, and I am beyond lucky to call it my home.

What’s one thing you will always miss about Dubai?

This sounds super cheesy but my friends! I’ve known some of my friends there since I was in 4th grade, so it was really hard to leave them. I had the best memories ever there and I am so so lucky and grateful that I get to keep all of those souvenirs with them.

Is there one piece of advice you would give to someone moving?

Get out and about! When I first moved, everyone kept inviting me to go places with them, but I was so nervous because I didn’t know the city. Looking back, now I regret not going out with those friends because I’m sure we would have been much closer now. Some tips: download some apps for your city! Apps such as CityMapper: tells you when the next train, bus, or metro arrives. Dojo: a great app to show you all the new restaurants, and activities to go to in multiple cities! Bandsintown: tells you all the artists playing in your choice of city! These apps are essential especially when you don’t know what to do or where to go!

A huge thank you to my friend for answering all of these questions! And I hope her advice is useful to anyone moving abroad this summer! As the friend who was not the one moving, I also wanted to give you guys a bit of advice, as I know it can be really hard.

One thing that’s really important to remember is that you’re not just going to completely fall out of touch with your friend. Sure, you won’t see them in person as much as you used to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk with them any less. You can still call, facetime, message, snapchat each other weird photos, or send each other funny memes on Instagram. Just because a friend is moving away it doesn’t mean the friendship is over. It just means the friendship will take a new form. I still talk to my friend all the time, and we were even lucky enough to visit each other. (some of you might remember my Paris blog post, that’s when I visited her)

Overall, I think it’s just super important to remember that life is what you make of it, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control the way that you deal with it and what you make of the situation. People moving away is one of those situations which is sad, but also exciting as it’s the start of a new adventure for the person moving. And as the friend staying behind, you also have to support your friend with this new chapter in their life. Don’t view moving as something bad, shift your focus, and see it as the start of something exciting and different.

I hope this advice helped some of you! And let me know if you liked this format of this post with the interview. Another massive thank you to my friend and all her advice in this post, I really hope you guys enjoyed it!

Little Miss Expat

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