Reflections On A Year Abroad

This month marks one year of living abroad. It seems unbelievable. A lot has happened in the year we’ve been in the UK.

We really had no idea what it was going to be like when we were prepping for the move. All of the online research in the world doesn’t prepare you for it when it actually happens.


We had no idea what London was like or where we were going to live. It was crazy. We were crazy.

Public transit is one of the biggest changes.  I am originally from Iowa.  Chicago’s public transit was confusing for me when we first moved there a long time ago.

L map

Then I ran into London’s tube map…

tube map

I’ve often thought of culture shock as something that comes as a result of some drastic difference between cultures or as a result of not speaking the language.  But it seems that a more subtle version creeps in.  At the risk of sounding cliche, it’s the little things you take for granted.  What are the grocery stores?  Where can I find a normal coffee? (not Americano!)  What is downtown?  Is there a downtown in this city?

An America to UK move is almost like passing through a sort of expat version of the field of robotics’ “uncanny valley“. Things seem normal but subtle differences linger in the background. If you can make it through that, there is a lot of enjoyment you can draw out of the experience.

There are, of course, slow moments.  The moments nobody wants to Instagram that comprise a majority of our existence.  Dealing with finances, landlords, and homesickness.


So the big question.  Would I do it again?  We could have not moved.  We could have continued to live in Chicago and planned one, maybe two (if we budgeted strictly) trips overseas and spent several days sightseeing before heading back.  But we didn’t.  We went for it.

It hasn’t been easy, but when I think about everything we’ve gotten to see, do and experience, I can’t see not taking the opportunity to do it.  Where do I see myself a year from now?  I can’t honestly say, but I’m grateful for the small time we’ve spent getting to know this part of the world.



2 responses to “Reflections On A Year Abroad

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