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PT and the Greater Good

Missing Home

Published August 9, 2011 8:32 AM by Dean Metz

I am rapidly approaching the two-year mark here in the UK. In many respects, I think I've done well adapting to a very different way of life, completely different health delivery system and surprisingly different culture. I am treated to living among some amazing history; the castle I can see from my flat was built in 1100 AD. I am a short (and cheap) flight to the continent and will have visited four countries by the end of this year. In November, I will apply for my "permanent leave to remain," the equivalent of a green card. My spousal visa is only good for two years. After that, I must get a green card or go home. It is creating more of an emotional issue than I expected.

It has been profoundly difficult making new friendships here. Being of a certain age, one just doesn't hang out in the pubs or clubs anymore and most of the people my age already are busy with kids or grandkids. This is also a small community where I am reminded of a scene from the movie, "Jaws." Ellen Brody is sitting on the beach with a local and asks, "When do I get to be an ‘Islander?'" To which the woman answers, "Never, Ellen, never! You have to be born here!" I will always be an outsider here. That is difficult.

Facebook and the New York Times keep me posted on what's going on back home. Skype allows me to see and hear family and friends. But recently, I have just wanted to be home; someplace where I belong, where I don't "talk funny," where I know the social norms and where my own history resides.

To slightly alter the words of an old Neil Diamond (now I'm really showing my age!) song: "UK's fine but it ain't home, New York's home but it ain't mine no more."

4 comments

Hey Dean--were I in your shoes!! I am still hanging onto the hope that the HPC will grant my application for licensure in the UK so I can move there. Actually, I have almost had it with the politics dividing this country and would welcome a chance at being "over the pond." That said, I felt the same way when moving from New Jersey to North Carolina and now to Georgia almost 25 years ago. Talk about culture shock!! And no decent pizza down here. One does begin to miss the sights and sounds of the familiar, but to have the wonderful opportunities to live abroad as you are now; you can't buy that anywhere for any price. As others have said, hang in there. If (hopefully, when...) I get to Cornwall, we'll have to meet for an American beer and pizza somewhere and reminisce about the "good old days in the US."

Mary Lou Stilwell, Physical Therapist August 10, 2011 8:27 PM
Augusta GA

I moved from NY to TN a few years ago, and even I understand what you mean! it is a tad easier for me to visit home though! Hang in there....

Jeanne Powers August 10, 2011 6:12 PM

We were watching a new show and a deaf male was talking to his hearing girlfriend and explaining he felt just as you did.  He couldn't keep up with the conversations so lost out on what would be an inside joke.  Because of his deafness, there would be situations where he would never be able to be part of the crowd.

I went to dinner last night with friends.  The other four have history together - high school, college, and decades in this town.  The conversation hung out there most of the night.  Their intention wasn't to exclude me, and if I hadn't just seen the show I'm not sure it would have hit me.  But for most of that evening, I was outside looking in.  I had no history, no frame of reference, for the conversations.

I know that isn't a drop in the bucket to what you or Lisa experienced.  I was still able to enjoy a few laughs but when our time together was done I only had a ten minute ride to be home - where I belonged.  I can't imagine feeling that was overseas and indefinitely.

I'm sorry you are experiencing this.  Thank you for being open.  I'm sure your post has encouraged many.

Janey Goude August 10, 2011 5:57 PM

Dean,

I had similar feelings at times when I lived in Spain.  There were points where I was just exhausted of feeling culturally and linguistically isolated.  I just wanted to be around something that felt familiar, and being abroad is always different in one way or another.  The food isn't like home, the jokes are different, the expectations, especially professionally, vary.  A lot of times I felt better by watching a movie or a TV show that reminded me of home.  

Thanks for sharing this part of your life abroad-  

Lisa West August 9, 2011 8:05 PM

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About this Blog


    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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