Repatriating Back to America
Meet Debra, she spent almost 14 years in England and is now back in the USA! Here is her story:
Why I went abroad – to be with Lewis. Not necessarily to marry Lewis but we knew if we wanted to stay together we would need to marry within the six months of a normal tourist visa. I had only taken leave, not quit, so I could have gone back, but we decided to try it and got married five months into my stay at the Hinckley Registry Office.
I went back to the US mainly because I lost my job. Things were not great in our marriage. My husband had quit working some 10 years ago due to disabilities. He didn’t really need care, but had become increasingly difficult to live with. Also, he had taken up parrot rescuing, and even though the parrots are adorable, they are also hard to live with. I thought I had a better shot at finding a job in Minneapolis, and I missed my friends and my church. So I think I made the right decision.
For me the hardest part about living abroad was being so far from my family. I am the oldest of six, our parents are still alive and I have two grown children and one grandchild. When I first moved to England, my kids were 17 and 21 and when I moved back they were 32 and 36. And my grand-daughter was born while I lived abroad, but fortunately I was able to be in Minneapolis for the birth.
For Americans planning to move abroad, I would say, find financial, legal and tax advice and don’t assume you know the rules or even know how to find them on your own. Learn to speak the language, especially in the workplace. Even if it’s English, it’s not the same English, and there are cases where your innocent Americanisms will lower your esteem in the eyes of colleagues. Do your best to fit in, and people will warm to you.
There are some things British people like about Americans, such as your accent and your can-do attitude to work and your lets-do-this attitude to fun and adventure. Play to your American strengths and identify and fix your American weaknesses. See all the lovely things here and on the continent while you are here. There is so much to do in Britain you don’t need to go anywhere else for fun, but if you can, do that too.
For Americans moving back to the USA, I say: You really cannot go home again. It’s a different country from the one I left.
I am now a dual citizen; I became naturalized just before I left. I love having that little air of Britishness and worldly sophistication now that I have been a longtime expat. I can tell people all about the NHS, the trains, the holidays, the food, the television. There are a lot of things about the UK that I miss, but with the internet it’s a much smaller world, so I can still stay in touch, and hopefully I will be back for a visit, if not for a spell of my retirement.