Expat lives in the USA
There are a lot of us Brits out in the USA, all living and working and homemaking in different places. I get a lot of expats contact me through the blog, which is awesome. We swap stories and share anecdotes.
One expat, Caroline, contacted me. She recently moved to Austin, Texas, a place I was very fond of when I visited and blogged about. She writes a funky blog and I asked her to write about her experiences of moving as a Brit to the USA. (Also, she told me that she is the sister in law of a dude I went to school with – small world or what?!)
This is her story….
Expat Austin Mum
One summer evening in 2013 my husband took a call from his CEO, after an age he returns to the front room and says just four words that would change our lives forever “fancy moving to America?” without a second thought I said yes! The next few months literally flew by applying for visa’s, searching for tenants, selling cars, resigning from my job, informing the children’s school, cancelling utilities and so on and after many goodbye dinners, parties, hugs and tears on 13th March 2014 we were finally jumping in a taxi to take us to London Heathrow airport with no return tickets!
We arrived at Austin International airport after flying on one of the first direct Dreamliner flights, it’s early evening, warm and we have with us the following: four adult suitcases, two full size child car seats, two children age 7 years and 4 years and all our hand luggage, our two cats are in the airport somewhere else at this point. Suddenly there is an announcement from the pilot “please stay in your seats as the police will be boarding the plane”. Now I don’t know if this is just a normal human reaction on hearing something like that or whether it’s just me but for a split second my mind started racing through everything I’d done recently which meant they were coming aboard from me, maybe they have decided my visa looks fake? Maybe the cabin crew didn’t like the way I spoke to the children? Well what else could it be? I notice I’m not the only one who is looking around curious, it turns out it is the South by South West music festival this weekend in Austin and the cabin crew had complained about a couple of drunk youngsters phew!
So after getting our American visa’s officially stamped with today’s date, a proud feeling of achievement washed over us after months of planning and stress we then had a lovely surprise greeting us as we walked into the arrival lounge, a couple of my husband’s work colleagues cheering and waving ‘Welcome’ banners! We then waited around for almost an hour as no one appeared to know where our two cats were, eventually we located them just before 9pm and we finally arrive at our rental house tired, exhausted, hungry but very happy! We get the beds sorted as best we can, have some pizza, get the children asleep and then realise one cat has wee’d on our brand new duvet so the duvet goes outside, we move one child to join the other child’s bed and my husband and I share the remaining duvet. We now officially live in America!!
The second day was mostly spent food shopping, navigating my way around the house and unpacking, by evening the children needed a good scrub clean so the eldest got into our jacuzzi bath I turned on the jets without checking the water level was above the jet holes and water shot out across the bathroom at what appeared to be a hundred miles an hour, hitting the walls on the opposite side of the room we quickly turned it off and I was soaked but it was our first good belly laugh we’d had in the house! My parents Skyped us this evening it was good to see their happy smiling faces after mums tears the day before, the next day I had Skype calls with my sister and a close friend it was amazing to see their faces and hear their voices, for a second it really felt they could actually be stood right in front of me!
Our first Sunday afternoon and the time had come for me to finally drive on the American roads, amongst the planning, the excitement, the sadness of leaving loved ones behind, the wonder of what will become of us in America, a small but scary voice along the whole way that I just could not silence was eating away at my sanity the irrational voice that says you will crash the minute you get out of the driveway, as you can imagine I insisted on driving to and from the school in practice for the week ahead, three times we went back and forth and yes by the end I cried out of panic and frustration.
Monday morning came and it was our seven year old daughters first day at school, the first big difference we encounter from an English school came next the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag and then the Texas flag, it also happened to be St Patrick’s Day and an Irish dad had organised for some local children who perform Irish dancing to do a show in assembly the dancers were brilliant our youngest was copying the moves all day.
Later that first week and with still a million things to sort out I felt very overwhelmed, I questioned whether it was because I felt we’d done the wrong thing? not for a second even though this has been a massive change for us all I know moving house was never going to be easy even if you were moving around the corner, after a cup of tea and a cry I was back on track to take it all on.
Part 2 to follow in next blog!