In spite of being born and raised in America, I haven’t lived there in a decade.
Over these last ten years, there have been many things I have loved about living overseas. My eight years in Okinawa were amazing and I would go back there is a heartbeat. I’m fairly certain there is a part of my soul that now firmly belongs to the island. Falling in love with Belgium has been shockingly quick. It’s as though I was grieving for the loss of my overseas love and pushed myself to fall in love again right away. But this isn’t just a rebound country; the kindness of the people, the unique character of the country has helped to build a solid foundation of love here.
While I have found so much to love about living overseas, there are times I miss being home in the USA. There are just some things that you can’t find when you are away.
The absolute worst thing about living in a foreign country is living away from family. I might have picked up and left, but they stayed behind. It can be years between visits, and due to the awkward time difference, months between phone calls. At first I resisted Facebook, thinking it to be a trendy thing that would pass. As soon as I realized how easy it would be to stay in touch with people this way, and know what was going on in their lives even when we couldn’t talk, I was converted. I honestly would have to say that social media saved my sanity while living overseas by putting me back in touch with my family.
Independence day has just passed for the USA, and I did nothing. Well, not nothing. My husband joined up with the Air Force, and we moved all over the place. But you know. No barbeque, no fireworks; none of the traditional celebrations. Why? Because the closest place to celebrate that way for us was at least an hour drive and no one wanted to make the trip, dodge the traffic, fight large crowds, and get back superiorly late at night. The hassle of not having a celebration close by means we must make a choice. Either we celebrate the traditional way, or we make it a low key holiday at home. We’ve had quite a few low key holidays at home.
Of course, when it comes time to travel to Germany for the Christmas markets, I am really happy to be overseas for the holidays.
Of course there is shopping all around the world. I’m not complaining about there being no where to shop. The complaint is in the ease of shopping. There are always going to be things I simply can’t get anywhere else. Some of these things are from the USA, others are now things I wish I could buy from Okinawa, and I am sure when I leave here there will be things I deeply miss from Belgium. The biggest challenge is the translation of ingredients in food. I have a gluten intolerance, which means I have to read what is in my food carefully for my health. Checking labels that are in another language is not an easy task when you do not speak the language. Some are easily labeled, and some have multiple languages written on them. Some are just me taking a chance as to whether or not it will work out. It’s a risk, and it’s not always one I enjoy taking.
4) Fast Food
There are very few fast food restaurants here in Belgium, at least that I have seen. In many ways, this is a great thing. We can’t as easily just pick up dinner instead of cooking a healthy meal, meaning our healthy eating habits have improved since moving here. However, when I am exhausted at the end of the day and just DO NOT want to cook, I hate that I still need to make something. When we are on the road, or having an incredibly busy day, I hate that we can’t just pull over anywhere and have a quick bite before diving back in. The lack of fast food restaurants is great for our health, but horrible for my convenience.
I know, I already said family. This one is hard enough it deserves to be said twice. I’m fortunate enough to have an awesome set of siblings, and a mother who is AMAZING, as well as the coolest nieces and nephews. Everyday I am apart from them is heartbreaking. I know living in another country is a great opportunity for myself and my daughters, but I hate that the price is time with my family.
So now, I have to ask. What is your favorite part about your home?