For an expat (and perhaps many native Brits too), living in the conurbation that is London can sometimes be a solitary thing. Even when navigating through the buzzing streets, narrowly avoiding colliding with camera equipped sightseers who have suddenly stopped to capture another great memory to show the “people back home” or to consult their maps, finding yourself in the company of thousands of strangers can spark the sense of loneliness.
I’ve had this happen to me many times, not because I don’t like the city or have no friends, but simply because a part of me has realised that I cannot “pop back home for the weekend” (that would take me 3-4 hours in air time alone, not including travelling to and from the airports and waiting for my connecting flight) or that I have no history in this country prior to 2003. And, whether I like it or not, the longer I don’t use my native language on a regular basis, the words will continue to fade. One by one, being boxed up and stored at the back of my memory, getting more and more difficult to find when I need to, slowly removing a part that makes me “me” – my USP if you like.
Luckily some of the above can easily be addressed.
My sense of loneliness will perhaps continue to appear from time to time, but will also quickly pass as I have a great network of really good friends in the city. People I wouldn’t want to be without, people who I consider my London family.
I also have a place I can call home in the city (even if rented!) and I’m excited about the history I will create in the years to come, so the history + going home for the weekend are not really an issue when I think about it.
When it comes to the slow disappearance of my mother tongue… Well that I can fix by starting to write and read more (and not just newspaper e-articles) in Norwegian. So if you from time to time see some weird scribblings at the bottom of my blog posts, fear not. I have not fallen asleep at my mac whilst writing. It will be a translation of the English text. Perhaps you’ll even learn some Norwegian 😉
So yes, among all the problems and joys life brings, being an expat can sometimes add a few more to the mix. But then, this is the life I have chosen, and I am still happy I did!