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Tips for Adjusting to Short-Term Expat Living

Moving to a giant city was a crazy adjustment. Boston is beautiful, but has a very small-town feel if you ask me – I felt like I knew everything and everything there. London’s neighborhoods are so vast and different, it can get overwhelming at times. In fact, it’s made me appreciate the outdoors a lot more and those moments we get to escape the bustling city life. Sometimes it gets so crazy in London, I’m ready to move off the grid and live a bit simpler. Wouldn’t be great to just grab some solar panels, Flogas gas bottles, some cabin wood and escape it all?

resort in morocco eileen cotter wright

But for now, I know we’re in London and I’ve worked hard to make the best of it. Over the last year and a half, I’ve done my best to embrace the change, the chaos and enjoy our transitional time in the UK. Overall, I thought this time would be like studying abroad or au pairing in Spain – just having a good time. However, this experience was much more about growth that I ever thought it would be. I’m learned to adapt more, know what I truly want and how to take care of myself and others. This is by slowing down, observing and seeing more clear how this expat life has changed me for the better.

Here’s a few ways I’ve handled it as gracefully as I can!

Food isn’t THAT big of a deal

small plates vagabond wines clapham
One of the biggest things expats talk about when moving abroad is missing the food from ‘home’. When we first moved to London, we dog sat for a family that has a secret stash of Thin Mints, Tollhouse cookies and Bisquick. If you live off these things in the states then yes, you’ll miss them! But During the week at least, I usually eat fresh produce and proteins, so I’ve found my cravings for American junk food have been kept at a minimum. This can help you transition but cutting out processed foods early before moving can curb these cravings. I will say though, London does NOT do justice to Tex-Mex or American Chinese food anywhere in this city!

Learn how to be a kid again

eileen cotter wright harry potter

This might seem a little strange, but the best way to handle a new environment is to approach it with wonder. Do you remember when you first went to Disney World, went to a sleepover or had the best meal of your life? Moving to a new city can be just like a brand new experience that can bring about child—like wonder. Smile, savor, and look at everything with a new perspective that can bring about joy and excitement. I was lucky to meet some great friends who have me going out all the time to try new restaurants, fitness activities and events that keep things fresh and fun.

Celebrate similarities and differences

london bus eileen cotter wright

Change is part of life. I can say that all damn day, but I’m still not good at accepting it. In fact, I’m someone who will sometimes pick an extreme change just to avoid inevitable little ones. Like, buying a one-way ticket to another country or going to camp in the woods for a week. As I get older I realize there’s healthier way to handle the ebb and flow of life. It’s nice to realize London has a lot of my favorite things – parks, Indian food, wine bars and mostly friendly people. This is the same back home. But I love London’s special things too that are new – ample public transport, happy hours and dog-friendly pubs! All of this has been a wonderfully refreshing way to embrace London life and the present moment.
Have you ever considered a change of environment, like an expat move? Or how about going off the grid a little? Here’s a fun video about what other people think about living off the grid:

 

EileenCotterWright

Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA expat living in London, UK. She is a freelance writer and owner of group travel site PureWander.com. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for about a decade. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Twitter @Crooked_Flight.

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