When you move away from home overseas for any length of time you know there are going to be normal things that you miss; family, friends, knowing where things are (I think it really takes about 6 months to wrap your head around a new place) and local delicacies. Most of these are patched with video conferencing, time and really really expensive ex-pat shops, which helps, but can sometimes not be quite the same.
I’m lucky, and have a lovely, tireless local to help me (thanks hubs!) but I still get frustrated at times. Take for instance English Street Name Signs. Why are they so elusive? The amount of times I’ve gone somewhere new, and become hopelessly lost because none of the roads I’m standing on have road names; or they have them in some strange place and they’ve become over-grown with foliage…
There are a few things that you don’t really realise that will have an effect, and help the realisation that you are marching to a different beat of the drum;
Having different public days eg. Fathers day in NZ is the first Sunday in September, after the UK one which is the third Sunday of June; this kinda messes with everything because when I need to buy one the shops are, well empty. It does mean you get creative though, and the emergence of online card shops is a god send
One disappointment I’ve had, is that at home there is always a 3 day bank holiday weekend around my birthday. Not so in England – I think I need to make a petition to Parliament…
Missing birthdays I’m rubbish at appointments. I’ve solved this by constantly updating the calendar on my phone, and it’s working really well, BUT with at least a 3 week delivery time to NZ sorting out birthday presents is a little hard. I’ve now clued in, and keep a NZ bank account and order a lot of things from NZ companies, getting them delivered directly to the famdamily.
Organising Pow Wow Times This one we’ve got down pat now; when you arrange a time to call or video call with family, and you’re setting a time, make sure you have the international clock up, confirm whose time you’re speaking about eg. 10am on Saturday morning NZ time, or 10am Saturday evening UK time – and if you’re me, put it in the calendar.
Spelling We have a slightly different way of spelling – NZ it seems to be a mixture of UK and US spellings.
Adapting the way you speak unintentionally – I was told by a kindly gentleman after I had lived here a couple of years that taking on the accent/ways of a new home is a sign of assimilation. I had to re-learn all of the classics – Ten, Seven, Fish & Chips, but the one that sticks in my craw a little is my own name. Yes, even though my name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, I had to relearn it in ‘English’. I always find it really interesting though, some people who have been here a long time still sound very Kiwi, and others like myself don’t.
None of these are life changers, but they do make things interesting… I like to send at least a card for people birthday, but my poor Sis whose birthday was yesterday (Happy Birthday!) didn’t get one because by the time I realised what the date was, it was lunchtime on the 19th our time, so 1am on the 20th NZ time. Bad Sister.
Give me upside down anyday. At least the water runs down the drain the right way at home…
What do you think you’d miss? Ex-Pats, what else do you find frustrating?