To be completely honest, I am finding it increasingly challenging to think of things to write about on a blog that focuses on what I'm learning as a Canadian living in England. Here, in my third year, everything English has become my norm. I am not surprised, if you choose to immerse yourself in a culture, it will become part of you.
My Canadian friends and I joke about missing things from Canada. We miss large fridges, tumble dryers, poutine, the convenience of Tim Horton's drive-thrus (or any drive-thru), Caesars, Nanaimo Bars, Butter Tarts, SNOW (that might be just me). We have Canada Day Celebrations and book club get togethers where we source the foods we are missing and gobble them up. Overall though, we eat British food, shop locally, our kids are in British schools, and we basically live the same as any other families living in Cheltenham. I know that the American expats have a Commissary available to them that stocks food from home, and are more likely to have large fridges, freezers, tumble dryers. The Canadians do not have anything like this available, we are a small group, and we like to suffer/assimilate.
Most days I feel that the only thing setting me apart from the locals is my accent. I'm still surprised when I call by phone or come in to an establishment and they remember who I am immediately. Then I remember that I am foreign. This probably helps. I do still have occasional days of confusion, when I don't know the lingo or I am handed a new particularly complicated colour coded pick-up schedule from my son's school. It could be argued that I would feel confused in Canada just as often. Maybe that's just life.
We are obviously way past the point where everything looked strange. I remember when we first moved here, my three year old Mr. G said to me, "Mom, the cars look funny," and I agreed with him. Now they look completely normal to us all. Driving is no longer a worry, I'm just as comfortable driving here as I am in Canada.
Naomi Hattaway wrote a brilliant blog about reassimilating after living abroad, I've linked it below. Let's imagine that everyone in your home country is a circle and everyone in your country abroad is a square. Initially, you feel extremely out of place as a circle in a square world. With time, you start to change, but you will never be a square. The problem is, you are no longer a circle either. Now you are a triangle. You don't quite fit in either place. I adore this analogy and it really expresses how living in a different country is not the same as visiting. When you travel, you don't absorb the culture in the same way as when you have an address and a bank account and health care and all the everyday boring stuff that comes with setting up your life.
I feel like I've been changing shape for quite some time. Moving from Alberta to New Brunswick years ago was an immense culture shock, and that was just within Canada. Although that was a 4,550 km distance. To put that in perspective, New Brunswick to London (across the North Atlantic) is roughly the same distance. After living in New Brunswick for eight years, Ottawa for five, and the UK for three, I'm not sure what shape people are where I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, but I am not that shape.
To take this analogy one step further. I often feel as though I don't fit in parenting circles as well. I have an oldest son with complex needs and communication deficits, so I've got one foot in the world of disability education and advocacy. My other foot is in the world of multiples, although I feel like I don't give the novelty and challenges of twins the attention that it deserves, because the autism world definitely requires more of me. To anyone who has singletons without special needs, I feel completely unrelatable.
All this rambling is my way of saying, being a triangle suits me. I don't quite fit in anywhere, but I can go anywhere. I love people of all shapes (both literally and figuratively). Every place that I have lived, every person who has been my friend has shaped me. I'm probably a very wonky triangle anyway. Not that I would know, but I suspect this is true, fitting in is overrated.
I'm not ready for repatriation quite yet. We are here for another year and a half. We all know that time goes quickly when you are having fun, I plan to make the most of every day I have and be grateful for it.
Is there anything that you would like me to write about? Please let me know! I would love some suggestions! Thank you for reading!