As a Brit transplant to America’s smallest state; one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, ‘Do you like living in Rhode Island?’
The short answer is yes. Yes, I do.
But – and there is a but – I feel like I’m straddling two countries. Two countries that I love. To some recipients of the aforementioned question, it may seem as if I’m being disloyal if I verbalize a preference about a place. I don’t really see it like that. It’s not like one place constantly trumps the other. There are many, many wonderful things about both the USA and Britain. And the occasional not-so-wonderful things.*
I guess it is human nature to compare. Greg and I didn’t jump across the pond because we’d fallen out of love with England (although house prices in the south of the country officially stink!), we moved because we love to travel. And we love the States. Our relocation was more than just switching continents; we also swapped city for suburb. That, in ANY country is a big-enough adjustment in itself.
So back to the original question. Yes, I love living in America. And yes, I love living in East Greenwich. And, yes, I also still really love my homeland – despite the rain (and just to clarify: we may like to joke about our British weather but it doesn’t rain ALL the time. Just quite a lot – haha!). And I will always always have a yearning for big city life wherever I live. Fortunately, EG is close to Boston and NY is just a three-hour Amtrak ride away for when I need a city quick-fix.
My brother Ed – who has lived in Holland, South Korea, France and China – has a theory about ex-pat life.
He suggests that the first few months are euphoric. The change of lifestyle and the excitement of discovering a new world is intoxicating.
Then, one goes through a period of discontent. Although still enjoyable, you find faults with your new environment. It’s a bit like when children realize their parents aren’t the perfect superheroes of their childhood (surely my children will never realize this about me?!).
Thirdly, comes acceptance.
His theory rang true for me. My period of discontent came around nine months of living here. Getting used the cost of living here was tough and then, wham, any unhappiness in my life at that point was magnified by an emotional upheaval in my life. The point is that any hard times in family life is intensified when you don’t have your family and familiar support network behind you.
But while my mental health took a bit of battering, I was determined it would not affect this amazing opportunity we had undertaken to live in this beautiful country.
In a way, having gone through a tough time solidified my love for this place. My friends here were, and are, AMAZING, some of them going above and beyond the call of a new friendship. Other, just as strong, friendships followed and I joined clubs I’d never got around to in my previous life. For some reason joining a book club back home was always ‘something that could wait.’ But, here, I jumped in with two feet and haven’t looked back.
So, the acceptance part of my brother’s theory was the easy bit. I was way beyond that and despite any normal, everyday problems (and the not so everyday) that happen within all families, we are happy and settled living in East Greenwich, RI. And with a little help from an amazing therapist (God, does anyone else love talking guilt-free about themselves for a good hour each week?), am in a pretty good place mentally. And this is everything, as my mum’s health has taken a little turn for the worse in recent days and I’m going to need every bit of strength I can possibly garner.
I am so proud to live in Rhode Island. And I am so proud to be a former Londoner and forever Brit too.
I may have one foot in each country but my heart is firmly in both.
*Want to know what I like and dislike about each place? It’s a future post! (And I’ll try very hard not to offend Brits and Americans alike!)