So far, I’ve lived in 5 states and 3 different countries, including the United States. The first time I left Alaska, I was 14 and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. The idea of it leaving an ice box for paradise had sent me over the moon, but starting fresh wasn’t full of sunshine and butterflies. Even if I could see the beach from my living room window.
Due to lack of butterflies, I moved back to Alaska. Oh how I regretted that… So I graduated high school early and got the heck out of that place. That’s when my “gypsy life” began.
And since, I haven’t lived in the same place for more than a year in over 5 years.
Why all the moving, you ask? Well, I’m not really sure to be honest with ya. Leaving each place had its own specific reasons, but generally I think I’m addicting to change.
And what bigger change than leaving the country?
Norway was my first go for a change. I had always wanted to live someplace else than America. Partly because I thought it lacked a certain culture and I was obsessed with the idea of Europe. The architecture, the fashion… And since I’m a citizen and Pappa wanted to go home, Norway was a reasonable move.
I moved back to the states after that, and moved within the states several times, which are sort of like countries. (Let me tell you, living in California was not easy.) And then I moved… again!
I’ve lived in London for the past year (a new record!) and oh. my. goodness. Life is hard. It’s exciting, it’s fun, but it’s a big bite in the bum I’m telling you. And utterly fantastic.
Living somewhere is much different to visiting, and there’s a lot I’ve learned from living on the other side of the world. Despite the hard times, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. These are only a few of the things I’ve gained…
I grew up surrounded by diverse cultures and people, and I’ve visited places like Thailand and Paris. But living amongst people who are so called “foreign,” and living a day to day life there rather than seeing the tourist attractions is a different story. I hear a lot of people travelling to Europe saying the people are “snobby,” whatever that means (I talk about this here), but it’s an outside view without ever looking in. And in all honesty, I forget I’m in a different country most of the time (until someone points out my American accent). We’re all the same—everywhere! It’s very difficult to judge anything I don’t fully know now. Being forced to adapt to a new lifestyle has opened my eyes to new customs and ways of living that I never quite understood before.
An Unromantic View
I think a lot of us, in one way or another, have seen someone else as “more than human.” I certainly have, and it can be dangerous. And for a while, I thought, I would be happy if only I lived in… London. Or Paris. Somewhere dreamy, perhaps? But being able to see the Eiffel Tower everyday doesn’t suddenly make life a dream. The people there are just like us. Honestly, every time I used to hear a British accent I would go ooh. Now I don’t even notice (sorry). Most the time people are telling me there are a hundred different “British accents” and I still haven’t got a clue. Living in one of the world’s capitals has normalized everything, but in a good way. Heck, I walk out of Kings Cross station every day and it took me months to realize that shot was in Harry Potter.
After living in so many places, it’s kind of hard not to be at least part of myself. But when you’re surrounded by people, you’re influenced by them. Whether it be fashion, the food you eat, the way you talk (good lord), or what you value—you pick up on things. I’ve found things about myself that are not very “English” and have stuck to my guns on them. But I’ve also found things about living in London that I didn’t have before that have changed me. I’ve always liked being my own person, but being in a place where I’m not like everyone else makes it harder to fit it, which has forced me embrace the strange person that I am. And I’m thankful for it.
Of course it’s given perspective… Of course! But really, nothing has ever made feel like I can just accept everything. This is the way people live here, well… that’s cool! And a lot of the perspective isn’t even gained through witnessing, it’s when people ask me questions that I understand. I’m reminded that I’m “foreign” to their country when I come in with a PB&J sandwich and they go ew what is that? Or when I they tell me the 4th of July was a loss (I didn’t get to celebrate this year, darn). It took me a while to catch on how foreign the Unites States are to others—a place that is the base of my very being. And thus, I conclude that we are all the same, everywhere.
A Love for Home
This might sound strange, but really, I’ve never appreciated home more. Isn’t it strange how everything you don’t know seems better than what you have? I don’t mean this in a sense that London isn’t so great, because I love London; but there is so much about home that I miss. I miss the people, the way of living, the grocery stores (I’m not sure how to explain that one). But really, I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve never identified as American until now. And it’s made me realize that yes, America does have history, and it does have culture.
It doesn’t quite feel like home, but I’m accustomed to it, and yes, I love London. Even if my family tells me I “talk British” now (which I refuse to accept, because I don’t). Despite all the constant greyness, there’s so much excitement and firsts to be had! (Although, first Premiere league game… anyone?)
Have you lived outside of your country?