Being an expat is great in so many ways, but there are lots of things I miss about home. Lately I have been thinking more about settling. Not settling in the UK, but finding a place to settle…somewhere. Being an expat comes with so many advantages, but there are also lots of things that I feel we miss out on by not having a base, routine and traditions. Things that I know I want in my life, maybe not now, but in the near future. This has made me think about the things I miss most about home, some small, some big, but all important.
1. My mam – Living away from my mam always brings me so much guilt because I know she would love nothing more than for me to live next door and pop by for regular cuppas and chats. Let’s be honest, if I lived next door, I’d pop round for every meal and with my washing and she’d probably get sick of me pretty quick. But I feel like we miss out on that mother/daughter relationship because I’m living in Beijing. Calling each other to talk about nothing, watching X Factor together on a Saturday night and popping out for a coffee or taking a weekend trip away. Those little things that are almost a right in the relationship or a mother and daughter, we miss out on and I always feel so guilty about it. I have to push it to the back of my mind and not think about it because if I let myself, the guilt is overwhelming.
2. Friends – One of my biggest struggles about friendships here in Beijing, is that my only friends are people I work with. That is kind of the nature of expat life and it’s particularly the nature in Beijing, but I struggle with it so much. After spending a week at work, sometimes I just need to get away from it. Plus I always feel that I can’t truly let go and just be myself because I work with them. On the flip side, I miss those friends back in the UK that just get me. Know what I’m going to say, accept me for who I am and we just always have fun together. I miss those friends so much.
3. The beach – I was really lucky to live the little seaside town of South Shields, having a beach right on my doorstep, and yet when I lived there, I hardly ever visited the beach. South Shields isn’t really the kind of beach where you sunbathe, but it’s still a fantastic area for a stroll. Now, when my friends post pictures of South Shields Beach, I feel myself pining for it, desperate to be there. I appreciate it so much more now that I don’t live there and I always take the time to visit whenever I go home.
4. The convenience – Some may argue that expat life is the most convenient there is, and to an extent I would agree. Nowhere else could you have a cleaner for £3 an hour, a personal driver or a taxi service that will pick up shopping for you at the drop of a hat, but it’s a different kind of convenience. I’m talking about the convenience where you can go into a shop and ask for what you need without having to jump around like an idiot using gestures to explain, where when you forget your healthy lunch, you can pop into the nearest Tesco and grab a ready-made salad, where when something needs to be fixed, it’s done, properly, because that’s what happens in the UK. Sure, expat life has little things that are made easy, but sometimes it can be so damn hard too.
5. Familiarity – Back home, I can hop on the metro and just know where I’m going. I know what to expect when I shop in my local supermarket. I have my favourite bars and restaurants. My childhood bedroom and my incredibly comfortable bed. It’s home! I guess that’s the key for me. I live in China but my home is the UK because it’s what I know, it’s where is familiar to me and China just hasn’t taken over as that place for me. I guess because we always knew when we moved here that we were passing through. We never planned to stay forever and have maintained that view. One day, I look forward to having that familiarity somewhere else in the world.
6. Traditions – I am a big fan of traditions. From eating fish on Good Friday to drinking Buck’s Fizz on Christmas morning. From birthday meal’s with my mam to eating all of the chocolate on Easter Sunday. Traditions run deep in me and it upsets me when they don’t happen. Living in Beijing has meant sacrificing some traditions, sometimes because we can’t get the items we need and sometimes because it’s just not the same when the rest of the community aren’t celebrating the same things with you.
7. Missing Out – And then on top of missing out on traditions, there are the big events that I miss out on. Like celebrating my bestie’s 30th birthday in Las Vegas, attending my aunt and uncle’s golden wedding anniversary or celebrating my cousin’s 21st birthday. It’s time like these that I want to be there, I should be there as part of the family but I feasibly can’t be, because jobs, 10 hour flights and money.
8. The Charts – I have absolutely no idea what songs are in the top 10 right now. I haven’t heard any new music in a really long time and when I go home and go out with friends, I feel like I’ve been living in a cave when they start singing the words to the songs that are playing and I’ve never heard the songs before in my life. I miss being clued in with the world!
9. TV Shows – The only way I get to watch TV shows is by downloading them so I end up watching shows at completely different times to everybody else. So while they’re talking about them, I have no idea what they’re talking about, but then when I want to talk about them, nobody cares anymore. I miss watching a show then waiting for the next one and finding out what happens with everybody else.
10. Food – I miss being able to get all of my favourite foods. Ironically, it’s not the food that’s bad for me that I miss, it’s banana flavour Muller Corner yoghurts, Dairy Lea triangles and crab sticks. The most random things that I can’t get here that I really miss. Plus, I also really miss my mam’s home-cooked meals. She’s makes the best grub!
Of course, there are so many things that I miss about home, but these are the 10 things that jump out at me when I think about home.
Are you living abroad? What things do you miss about home? Let me know in the comments.