Our latest guest blogger, Rebecca Subbiah, fills us in on her journey as an expat.
I have lived in the US for 10 years, having moved here shortly after I got married. My husband came here to do residency and I followed a few years later to start our life in Cleveland. In the first year I found it exciting to learn about the new country but also very hard, struggling with the small things like learning to drive on the other side of the road and being alone while he worked.
Cleveland - Picture source: Flickr
It was also very hard to get work initially and as a registered dietitian I had to take the RD exam here and then try and convince a potential employer to hire me while needing them to help me get a work visa. So for over a year I was out of work and it was a valuable learning curve and insight into life as an immigrant.
North Carolina - Picture source: Flickr
We then moved to North Carolina a small town called Elkin and my husband’s employer kindly offered to hire me too, I worked in a small hospital with a colleague and also did clinics for the doctors’ offices. Working again was wonderful and overall not that different from the UK.
I slowly smiled and began to say vitamins in the American way while I learnt about Southern food and culture, despite still saying tomatoes like a Brit! In 2008 we moved to a bigger city Winston Salem, a lovely place with more to do, a great arts scene, lovely parks and rich in history with the living museum of Old Salem.
Winston Salem – Picture source: Flickr
We now have two small children here who hold both an American and UK passport. It’s not been an easy journey and I have been very homesick over the years especially after the kids when I felt I needed more support. As an expat I think we all feel quite a bit of guilt about not having our kids growing up near family and living away. But little by little our adopted countries become home as we settle and make friends. Slowly the culture has soaked into us and I have spent most of my twenties and early thirties here developing more personally and professionally. I have networked with my profession at the State level, done professional speaking and have great opportunities.
Last week we took a huge step and became citizens which I will admit may not have been so easy to do had I needed to give up my British nationality. But becoming an American citizen felt right as it was about committing to our expat life. Taking the oath with 85 other people from 45 countries it was actually quite emotional. It’s amazing that after so many years folks come and join this country. I loved the sense of unity and that we are all in it together to help one another and share our talents.
No one knows what the future holds or where we will live but for now I have made the choice to make this home, not to keep looking back and pining for days gone by.
The UK is always my homeland and my first love but I feel that as an expat, feel, committing and making where we are now home brings happiness and a sense of contentment. Reassure loved ones that you love them and the place you grew up but don’t be scared of moving on. Someone once said to me “it isn’t that you have decided to leave but that they have decided to stay”.
About the author:
Rebecca Subbiah is a registered Dietician, mum, world traveller, speaker, writer, food blogger and gardener who loves inspiring foodies around the world. She is a British expat living in the US. Check out her blog http://www.chowandchatter.com/ and follow her @chowandchatter.