Expat Life: Celebrating One Year of Living Abroad In London
On February 25, 2015, Rico and I said good by to our Boston apartment and boarded a plane to London to start the next chapter of our lives. Before we went through security and waited for take off, we met up with our our parents and my sister for dinner one last time. It was an incredibly strange feeling to sit there knowing we wouldn't see them until September and we would be across the ocean—many miles, many hours apart. Looking around felt like I was in a weird dream with the mixture of excitement and nerves swirling around inside of me. I don't think it hit me until that meal that we were actually moving away. It was tough to say good bye. There were lots of tears and not wanting to let go.
The next morning, we landed in London and took a cab straight to our temporary housing. It was pouring and we had barely slept. We couldn't get into our housing until later in the day but we had no idea where we were supposed to go with six bags of luggage. Rico ran and grabbed us some food and I took shelter with our bags in the entry way to the building where we would wait it out. I remember feeling scared out of my mind and incredibly anxious to get inside to burrow inside a bed, rest, and calm down. Everything was new; nothing was familiar. I honestly don't remember much else from that day. We must have just slept and made sure to let everyone know we were safely in our new place.
Fast forward a couple weeks and we were on an intense hunt for a flat to call home during our years here. It was no easy task in London—one of the most expensive places to live. It's also just so darn big especially compared to Boston. We had no idea where to start and scattered ourselves all over the map while we searched high and low for what would fit our needs. We had to of seen 50 different places (okay, I'm exaggerating but it sure felt like it) until we found the one. There were times during the search that I felt we would have to settle for something in an unsafe area or smelled of cat pee (yeah...). We had realtors taking advantage of our lack of London knowledge and our time crunch. I felt like I couldn't trust a soul to lead us to the right home. Then one day, thankfully, our flat popped up in my constant online searching and it was meant to be. I quickly got in touch with the realtor to schedule a showing and within a week, it was ours. We moved in officially in early April and have been (still) slowly but surely making the place our own.
The rest of the year was a whirlwind of trips as we jetted off all over Europe. We were on a fast track to see and do everything we had been dreaming of for this move. Our first trip was to Paris in April and from there it spiraled our of control. We went to Copenhagen, Slovenia, Croatia, Belgium, the Greek Islands, England's Lake District, Cambridge, the South of France, Edinburgh, and home (twice). The trips were the highlight and the reassurance of why we decided to make the leap across the pond. The strangest part of the year was going home. It was an odd feeling—almost as if we lived a double life—but both times filled our souls back up with all the love from our families and friends. One of the toughest (if not the toughest) parts of living abroad is being so far away from all our loved ones. We're thankful everyday that they understand our choice to be here right now and I think it helps that we constantly remind them (and ourselves) that some day we will be back right by them!
Our first year abroad was challenging in many ways. From navigating a new city, missing our families, and learning to be each others everything while we didn't have anyone else to turn to. Now I look back on the start of this adventure—all the way back to when Rico asked me what I thought of the idea—and I laugh at how naive I was to just say "yeah, sounds good to me!" I tend to be a go with the flow person when it comes to moving and traveling. Rico's the planner and I trust him to be making the right moves for us. After reflecting back on the past year, I can safely say he did more than just make the right move here. He pushed us outside of our comfort zone—to be better versions of us, to understand more about ourselves, each other, people, and the world as a whole.
I'm forever thankful for this move as I know it will be one of those times we look back on later in life and say "remember that!?" It's something that has shaped us and changed our lives forever and for the better. And, I have to say just how much of a blessing it is to be with a man that has such large goals and doesn't let anything stop him from achieving them. Without him, this wouldn't be real life.
Looking forward at the year ahead of us, what we're most looking forward to is having our families over this year to let them see a peak into our London lives. I don't realize how much we've adapted and grown with this city until I have to reflect or talk about it. Planning time with people coming over is almost overwhelming. I feel like there is so much I want to show them all or have them experience too.
I'm proud, humbled, and excited about our first year milestone. Time feels like it flew but crawled at the same time but it's exciting to know that there's still more ahead to keep living this chapter of our lives. While we have a plan for when we would like to go back home or at least move on from London, I can't say we have anything set in stone that we are definite about. We're going to continue to let our hearts and adventurous souls guide us to where we should be. London is that right place right now in this moment in time.
Jill, Thank you for taking such lovely pictures of us celebrating our new life in London during your stop over on your European adventure. We'll always look back at these when we reflect on our time here! Your talent is outstanding and your passion for your work is admirable. We wish you the best of luck on your international photography journey.