Readjusting From Expat Life

March 3, 2014

USA Life

Expat life has its ups and downs, and there’s no shortage of reading material out there about living and traveling in foreign places, or about the culture shock that often results from the experience. But there’s less mentioned about returning from that journey – coming home. Back to a place that used to be everything you knew about the world. For two months now I’ve been home in the USA and that’s resulted in some amazing high moments…as well as a few low ones –

Empire state building

The Highs  (in no particular order) –

Grocery store shopping

American grocery stores (generally) are super-sized compared to the stores I’ve been to in Europe, and outside of the major cities the process is to drive to the store and pack your cart with all the items you need for a week or two. A “once and done” type process.  Very different from London where I was at the grocery store six times per week, would have to walk a quarter mile to get to the store and could never find the products that were familiar to me – little things in hindsight but an everyday source of frustration. So upon our move back home, I was overjoyed as we arrived at the New Jersey Super Stop N Shop. Even now, two months later, I can’t believe how enthusiastic I am about my weekly trips to the grocery store – an errand I always dreaded prior to my move abroad.

American grocery store shopping

Family is nearby again!

When we moved to London, our distance apart from family increased from 250 miles to 4000 miles. That resulted in missing out on lots of stuff like birthday parties, family reunions, holidays together and just plain old quality time.  This has to be one of the worst parts about living abroad and equally is now one of the best parts about moving back.

With my family at Fagers Island

At an Oyster/Beer Festival in Ocean City, Maryland with my Mom, sister and cousins

Big American stuff

One of our first purchases upon our move into a new apartment was a TV. A Big TV! It’s good to be home.

55" TV

Purchasing a car is equally as exciting. While in the UK, we regularly rented the types of cars pictured below!

Smart car

Now that we’ve returned, we decided to do it right and get a big American car. Within the next week we’ll be enjoying a leisurely drive around New Jersey and New York in our new Lincoln MKZ.

Lincoln MKZ

The Lows –

Traveling Less…

While in London, we managed to visit over 20 countries in two years. That meant constant excitement and planning for an upcoming trip to see new parts of the world I never before experienced. Now that I’m back, I look forward to traveling more around the US, but it’s not quite as easy as it was in Europe due to the vast amount of land mass and long distances to get anywhere. There also aren’t as many rail options or discounted airline companies offering discounted prices. I already miss easyJet.

London Trains_new

Leaving great friends behind –

It’s never easy to move away from a place after you’ve developed amazing friendships.  Luckily I know that once I develop friendships like this, I’ll have friends for life, even if those friends now live thousands of miles away.

Mirkka and I

And realizing that some of your best friends back home have now moved away – 

Returning to the New York City area is great. But my previous life here revolved around some incredible times with close friends who I associate with life in New York. Knowing that these friends are no longer nearby makes adjusting to the return home that much harder.


One of my best friends who’s now moved back to San Francisco, California

Starting over…

Can be fun and exciting, even when you return to a place that you know so well. Nothing stays the same, and though that often results in some form of cultural shock on the return home, it also means you can figure out new ways to challenge yourself and keep life exciting!












About Tanya

I’m a freelance travel and beer writer and a passionate and energetic 30 something - determined to enjoy life and see as much as possible along the way. Recently I lived abroad in London and traveled to 20+ countries within two years! As of January 2014, I'm back in the USA, and currently living in Charlotte, NC. But before all of that, my roots were set in small town America, where I spent the first 23 years of my life living, going to school, and working in the state of Pennsylvania.

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