Move to a new country and you quickly see that visiting a place as a tourist, and actually moving there for good, are two very different things.
Tahir Shah, Travels With Myself
We have now been in the States for a little over a year, which has caused me to reflect on many things. One of these being our actual relocation, in it’s simplest sense: we used to live in Edinburgh, now we live in a small town just outside Boston.
Before we moved to the US I had visited Boston several times. I loved it.
It’s a beautiful city with history and culture. Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, brownstones and universities. The real Cheers bar, Aquarium, Science Museum, Children’s Museum and the wonderful Museum of Fine Art. A ‘city centre’ you can walk around; the Make Way for Ducklings ducks; Frog Pond, where can skate in the winter and splash in the summer. It has seasons, four of them, often all in one day!
I still love the things that made me love Boston as a tourist, and made me visit more than once, but it is (of course) different living here.
As a tourist you do not need to choose schools for your children. As a resident you agonise over whether you have made the right choices for your unsure, unsettled, uprooted kids.
As a tourist you do not need to make friends. As a resident you must; for your children’s sake, for your own sake.
As a tourist you do not need to brave mums groups and activities. As a resident you have to take a deep breath and walk into a lot of rooms where you know no one.
As a tourist you can happily spend a whole day without talking to anyone. As a resident, those days make you sad and worried and lonely.
As a tourist you do not need to scour the supermarket shelves for baked beans that the kids will actually eat. As a resident you try every brand available, before admitting defeat and spending three times as much per can on imported proper Heinz beans. The same goes for cheddar.
As a tourist you do not need to pass a driving test. As a resident you do!
As a tourist you simply wander the streets. As a resident you wander and you say hello to neighbours, you stop to chat to acquaintances, you bump into friends.
As a tourist you just need to know where the nearest café is. As a resident you get to know the regulars and chat over coffee.
As a tourist you do not need to use the ‘American’ word for things. As a resident you find you do without realising, as do the kids and their changing accents make you smile.
As a tourist you get compliments on your accent. As a resident you still do :)
As a tourist you don’t mind being ID’d every time you buy a bottle of wine. As a resident you still love it!
As a tourist you don’t feel at home. As a resident you start to.
[Update 12 March 2015: I’m linking this post up with the lovely Chantelle from Seychelles Mama, for her Expat Family linky. The winter months are hard for me, the relentless cold and the never ending snow. I retreat into myself and forget that proper seasons are one of the things I love about living here. Re-reading this post reminded me that while relocation can be hard, it’s not all bad.]