My blogger friend Casey asked me to be part of her
Wanderlust: A Travel Series link up and how could I say no?
A F a m i l y A f f a i r
Wanderlust has been instilled in me since I was born to two nomadic parents in a military family who were on their second three year tour in England. They went on to spend about seventeen years living abroad through out Europe and made sure my sister and I had the full experience.
4 Generations of my family have spent a significant part of their life living in Europe. I was not just ‘luckily born in England’ and moving here because of my dual citizenship. Europe has impacted my family through the generations and has imparted a wanderlust down the line. My paternal grandfather was in Italy, not to far from where we lived, during WWII. My parents chose overseas assignments one after another during my father’s 30+ years of service as an officer in the USAF. For the last two years my husband and I have been living here with our kids and have no intent to move back stateside. For my children, who are Third Culture Kids, that is 1/3 and 1/4 respectfully of their life spent so far in Europe.
I n E u r o p e
Already Been. There are about 15 places in Europe that I have been so far (I separated the UK as I have yet to travel to Ireland) and looking at the list of European countries that does not seam like so many places. Easily my father will have me beat when it comes to the countries he was able to visit thanks to his TDYs with the US military forces. Still even though so many are crossed off my list, it does not mean I do not want to return. Even more to the places that my husband and kids have yet to step foot in and to experience the culture again for myself. Three trips I already have on my Wanderlust bucket list are: Italy, so my kids can see where I grew up; Sweden/Norway/Denmark; and Austria/Germany/Switzerland, to experience the memories I cherished with my dad growing up.
Yet To Visit. I separated this list into two columns because there are really a lot of places in Europe that I have not yet been. So the first list are countries I foresee being able to go to first, especially with young kids and the send list are the remaining countries my Wanderlust part of me would love to see while alive. I wish I had my own private plane so that I could jet to each destination every two weeks and photograph and share on my blog. That would be the perfect life, yes?
Travel Thursday. I love to travel. I also love to move. By ‘move’, I do not mean down the street or across town. I love moving to another country and better yet another continent. It is the norm for me and this nomadic lifestyle has been a major part of my life since I was born in England to my American parents. With the weekend right around the corner, I find Thursdays are the perfect day to start talking ‘travel’. I hope to share to you all my love and passion for being a Wanderlust Third Culture Kid.
|“Honestly I feel more at home in an airport and on airplane.” – Bonnie Rose|
My Childhood. I grew up on military bases up and down Europe until I was seventeen years old. Unfortunately that meant I would spend my senior year graduating in the USA as well as adopting to the (new to me) USA culture. Every cloud has a silver lining and for me it was getting to spend the summer after graduation in Italy to see my classmates get their diplomas. For the next decade I would spend my life living through out the mainland USA and on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. My nomadic needs were catered to with time spent in Australia, Thailand, and Cambodia between the years of 2002 and 2011. Though I carry an American passport and have an American accent, my goal had always been to use my UK passport and return ‘home’ to Europe.
|My friends and I at the Naples American high school graduation – 2011 in Naples, Italy|
If you have a goal to move to another country, make it a goal and do it! Take your dreams and your wishes and pair it with action. I have talked to a lot of people since the summer of 2011 about why we made such a big move. In response back I have heard frequently the statements of ‘oh I wish I could do that’ or ‘wow, I couldn’t imagine just moving to another country like that’. I will be straight with you. Moving abroad will not be easy, but if you want to do it then figure out a way so it does not become a future regret. I love the mantra that ‘Life is Short, Live every Moment’.
|This was our last photograph taken with our sons before we left. They would join us once we were settled.|
|This was the last photograph taken of us together before our plane left for England.|
How We Did It. Moving abroad is not an easy feat. While I thought we were both prepared for our move we did learn a lot along the way. We chose to move to England without either of us having a job lined up, nor a place to stay. That is not the whole story, so please do not go by that strategy to move abroad. You definitely need to do your research and figure out how you can get a visa. A simple tourist visa will not allow you to live and work inside a country and every place has its own rules. Know the restrictions and what you will need before you hop on a plane. The easiest way to move to another country would be with a job that you already have, that will send you to work there. While we tried that with the military, this way did not pan out for us.
Another way to get a visa to live and work is to look at getting a student Visa and attending school. My husband decided to use his GI Bill from the USAF and get his masters in England. We moved abroad with my husband accepted to University of Sussex in Brighton, England and I was traveling under my British passport. OOPS! That is right, we made mistakes along the way. So in a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ fashion, I will repeat that you know the guidelines for acquiring the correct Visa. You will want to confirm with several sources or you will end up like we did. Though we read online that Ryan could apply for his student visa in the country, that ended up being a misprint of bad information on the website. My husband had to leave the country, apply for his visa in the USA, pay to have it expedited and then return to join me. The paperwork and dealing with people can end up in costly mistakes if you are not careful.
|At Heathrow airport my husband looks for wifi as we wait for our train.|
|Navigating our way to Victoria Station with the Underground.|
First Arriving into England
Though we did not have any personal contacts in Brighton, we did plan out our journey down to Brighton and reserve a place at a hostel. We did not know at this point how long it would take to find jobs, so living in a hotel would be far out of our means. Hostels however are perfect if you are traveling sans kids and was one of the reasons we chose to leave our kids with family while we figure everything out. Staying in a hostel for us was smart. However traveling with the amount of luggage we brought proved to be a bit challenging and did result in a little heart ache. Anything I knew we needed needed to be in our suitcases I packed. On vacations we pack like pros, but moving to another country changes the game plan a bit. If you do come to Europe, know that there may not be lifts (elevators) like there are back in the USA. We had to take several trips many times up and down different flights of stairs across the train stations all the way to Brighton. Which was not as terrible, as it was that I broke my camera lens trying to shuffle bags.
Another tip of advice. There will be plenty of time for photos. When maneuvering your luggage, keep your camera where it will be safe. 😉
|I was so excited to be home in Europe after so many years.
Everyone we met was so polite and helpful and we were smiling the whole way to Brighton.
|Outside the Brighton rail station on the coast of England.|
Ryan eventually got his marriage visa, went to school, and worked part time. I began work for the next year at a salon and our kids joined us in September to start the school year in England. After all was said and done I am so glad that we decided to just do it. Our family has only come closer together living here and being married to my expat in England is everything for which I had hoped. We have since moved to Bath, as of the end of December 2012 and we currently have no further plans of moving.
Where would you move to if you could go anywhere in the world? Have you or do you currently live abroad from your ‘home’ country? I love to meet other expats and future expats!