Moving to the UK 16 months ago while my husband had been away for work the whole time, was one of the most challenging experience of my life. It was really hard adjusting to a new country, new culture, new everything without my husband. I could tell ,miki, my eldest daughter, was having a hard time accepting that she is away from all that she knew. And did I tell you when I got here I was 7 months pregnant?
They say that moving a school aged child is somewhat easy because children are resilient. I could tell you that yes, there’s truth in that, but the child still has to go through painful emotions, before he or she gets comfortable. Miki, my eldest, didn’t like everything here. She missed her friends and family and all the the ways she was accustomed to. It took about 2 months for new friends to invite her for dinner, play dates or do sleep overs. Once that was going, she started to love her new place. In fact, she enjoys it here more now ’cause she can go outside and play with her friends without me worrying about her getting kidnapped. Yeah, we lived in a society where there were constant fear that your child is gonna get stolen. Well here, the attitude is totally different. I was amazed when parents just let their kids walk to school by themselves or go visit another friend, you know the normal stuff. Even I eventually let her do the same things.
When I moved to this country, oh so very pregnant, I didn’t expect doctor checkups would be different. I was awakened by a rude realization. I dreaded going to the doctor’s, well, because they do everything differently here. For example, warning, tmi, I had to bring the little tube to pee in home and bring the darn thing to my next appointment. I was so mad that the bottle was little that I peed on my hand 🙁 To add to the grossness I was told to rinse the bottle out and bring it to my next appointment. That’s when I drew the line and said no I won’t do it. Haha. There were times when the doctor sent me to the hospital for a baby scan or something and the hospital was an hour away. With a huge belly in front of me, almost touching the steering wheel, I drove through villages’ small roads and busy city roads. I felt like I was going to hit everything. Thank goodness though there wasn’t any roundabouts on the way. That would have been another terrifying thing to deal with.
Since then, my eldest daughter adjusted well to her new environment and my baby was born. Me? I’ve come to terms with my new place. I feel okay about it now. England is a beautiful and peaceful country. The countryside is covered with lush greens. The air that I breath is fresh. There are so many places to explore and history to be learned. It is an exciting place to be.
My husband, though, is still not home. It’s really tiring when you’re doing everything on your own raising the kids, running the house by yourself. Not having another adult in the house takes a toll on how I think and converse. I have a language like a child, because who I talk to is a nine year old and a baby all day long. Sure I go out to the local mommy hangout group, but you know it’s different.
I wait for weeks after weeks to go by until my husband comes home. In the meantime, I’m busy with growing our little family and share my experience in living abroad. So I made a list of the things you might want to know before moving to the UK. In no particular order, these are the things that I think were important to learn.
- Know what is a roundabout. I still am not able to drive on a roundabout, because although I understand how it works now I am still terrified of this. If it were me, I would demolish it and put a stop light at everything. But you absolutely have to learn it. Here is a link to a video to learn it. Don’t even find another video. I know the voice is weird but seriously, I wouldn’t put it here if it weren’t helpful.
- The bank here is so difficult. Basically if you opened one, know all your numbers and passwords. Write them somewhere. If you are talking to a person on the phone, write everything down. It will get confusing as heck. If you don’t know your pin, don’t bother calling the bank for it if you want it that day. They will send you a letter within 5 days to mail the pin to you. Just write everything down.
- In the restaurant, there is no tipping, no to go boxes, and it’s small portion. Get used to small portions everywhere. The customer service is mediocre. The service you are accustomed to elsewhere? Forget it. It’s not the same. And chips are French fries and crisps are chips.
- This still confuses me sometimes. In riding the elevator which they call the lift, the floor of a building at street level is the ground floor. You go up once above that, then that is the first floor.
- The most ever wondered NHS. I wasn’t going to say anything, but here it is. It’s free, great-prepare to wait hours and hours though. Remember when I said I drove an hour to the hospital when I was pregnant? After waiting hours, I almost walked out. I actually put my coat on and started walking when they called my name.
- Soccer is football. Don’t get them mad.
- The voltage is different. In the UK it’s 240V so leave all your hair tools behind. I left everything, my curlers, flat irons, curling irons. Some can be used here though with an adaptor, like computer or tv. Just check compatibilities first.
- If for some reason you can’t drive in the UK anymore, oh I dunno, because your license was only valid for a year, don’t be afraid how to get your groceries. You can always sign up online with grocery chains here like ASDA, Tesco and more, and they will deliver your groceries to your house. Brilliant!
- You pay for plastic bags when buying something, so save those bags.
- You’ll be saying “top up” a lot. Top up the minutes of your phone. Top up your drink. Cheers!