Leaving It All Behind Is Never Easy

by Jennifer Black 6 months ago in europe

My experience moving from America to England

Leaving It All Behind Is Never Easy

On September 21, 2019, I arrived in my new home in Falmouth, England. I left friends, family, and late night taco bell trips behind in America; Dallas, Texas to be specific. I did it for good reasons. My husband, who I met online nearly nine years ago, is British. It was easier for me to move to him, then it would have been for him to move to me, so that’s what we did. We were married this past June after numerous back-and-forth-visits, and after a few agonizing months of waiting for a UK Spouse Visa to process, I was on the plane over.

I’m sure that from the outside, this sounds exciting or romantic. Well, it kind of is. But it’s a lot of things in addition to those aspects. Travel bloggers like to talk about moving overseas like it’s easy or satisfying, like it’s a thing you do to experience the world and broaden your horizons. Perhaps it is for some people. For me, it was really… complex.

I love my husband. Being with him fills me with so much joy, and I couldn’t imagine a timeline where we didn’t eventually end up living together. That said, moving was a sacrifice. After growing up bullied and alone in my youth, I had acquired a solid group of friends in America. Best friends. I had a community in which I volunteered, I had hobbies, and after growing up a sad child, I had become a very happy American adult. I was stable and secure. Leaving meant throwing that security away, and letting my stable foundation crumble into pieces.

I always knew it would be hard. Maybe not when I was a bright eyed teenager telling my then-boyfriend that we would manage to get together somehow, but as an adult with a much more solid connection to reality, I knew that the logistics of an intercontinental move would be hairy. And yet, I was not prepared.

By the time I received my positive visa decision, the excitement had waned into bittersweet anticipation. I had final goodbye parties to plan, boxes and suitcases to pack, and last minute memories to make. Stress wracked my body, and I spent a lot of time wondering if I could handle the move when it came down to zero hour. I held firm.

I journaled often, detailing my emotions in by-the-hour intervals. Most of the time, the dominant emotion was fear. Would I fit in in a new country? Would I stop having panic attacks in the local Tesco, as was my hobby the last time I visited? Would I make friends and acclimate to a different culture before I got too lonely? My journal is full of questions like these, all punctuated by an ominous absence of answers.

Fear doesn’t stop the clock, and after saying goodbye to my friends and family, I was at the airport. And then I was at my gate. And then I was on the plane. The universe had not ended, and I was in the air. I crossed from flat plains to hilly farmland in the space of one ocean, and I was alive. In fact, despite being exhausted, I was happy.

I had wanted this for so long. Eight long years of “I’ll visit soon,” and “I miss you,” and finally, an era was over. It was worth every goodbye tear and panicked journal entry, it really was. But if I’m going to have any takeaway from this experience, it’s going to be that those painful moments mattered. I’m glad I experienced them honestly, not sugar coating them with wishes of exotic locales and new frontiers. I’m glad that I cried with my friends before leaving, ugly slobbery sobbing, and that I didn’t pretend it was easy.

It wasn’t easy, but I survived. Now, I can honestly say that I’m very happy. I’m sure that I’ll experience homesickness, sadness, and even resentment, but I’ll promise myself now to feel those feelings with an open and forgiving mind. My story deserves no less.

Jennifer Black
Jennifer Black
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Jennifer Black
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