Friday, March 20, 2015

The expat life: 5 years on

This month marks five years since we packed our lives into two backpacks and made the move back to Europe. It's also been three years since we said our farewells to the Netherlands and moved to California. Five years of expat life. Believe me when I say we NEVER intended on living away from the motherland this long. Five years of living in foreign countries feels like a milestone - I'm undecided whether it's a good one or not, and I've been reflecting a lot lately on the paths that led us here. When Mitch and I got married in 2004, we both thought we'd just settle down, buy a house, get a puppy, have some kids. Little did we know that our life wasn't going to go down this path and we'd instead find ourselves trotting all over the globe, having babies in two different countries and now raising our family in the states.

When the opportunity arose in 2007 for Mitch to do an internship in the south of France, we jumped on it. It was a short stint - living there for only 6 months (but believe me, it had its challenges in even such a short time) but it kicked off my love affair with Europe and our desire to experience day to day life in different cultures.

When Mitch finished his PhD in 2009, he started looking for work. I had been offered a job in Canberra, and he had been offered two year post-doc contracts in both Switzerland and the Netherlands. We prayed hard and took a leap and after not quite two years living back in Australia, we packed up and moved to the Netherlands with nothing but what we could carry: clothes, shoes and my knitting needles (I kid you not. I don't know what I was thinking. They do sell knitting needles in Europe).

Our time in the Netherlands was pretty amazing. We lived in a beautiful old city; the oldest in the country, I got to meet family members and learn more about my heritage, we met wonderful people, Mitch loved his job, we started a family and we spent all our spare time traveling Europe.

But, all good things must come to an end and our life there had an expiration date. We had every intention of moving back to Australia, but as we were starting to price shipping options for our things back to the land down under (it's amazing how much you can acquire in only a couple of years, especially in a country that has the vrijmarkt), a position came up in California at a company Mitch had been wanting to work at for some time. Things started happening, Mitch flew out for an interview and after a whirlwind couple of months, we found ourselves in the bay area and were starting life in a new country all over again.

Now, somehow we've been here for three years. We've lived in our current house for two of those years and it's the longest we've stayed anywhere since our pre-France days in 2007. We've added another sweet boy to our globetrotting clan and traveled the USA. We've made yearly trips back to Australia to visit family & friends but we've also really made a life here for ourselves. The people we've met, our community, our village - well, I've never had such a connected group of friends before. It has it's downsides, but it's also the most amazing support system I could have ever imagined. To be honest, it's our community (and Mitch's job) that have kept us here this long. When we moved here, I thought we'd be back in Australia before we had a second child. Now it's been three years and we're having to attempt to renew visas - don't get me started on that ongoing debacle - and think about the future. I don't know what the future holds. We have our wishes and desires, but I'm slowly learning to just pray and let go. Live in the moment.

Five years on. I know I've certainly learned a lot and grown in that time. As frustrating as it can be to not know what our future holds, I'm excited. Here's to the next five years, I hope they are just as adventure filled and rewarding!

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1 comment:

  1. Love this post Lu! Will you still be in Sunnyvale in September 2015?


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