A guest blog article by Zoe Harvey-Ellis (student, activist, world citizen)
In December 2005, I left the security of my life and home in England, for a transatlantic move to the United States. Here begins my cultural, emotional, and personal journey from one land to another. The reason for a move stateside was an amazing job opportunity offered to my husband. Before this offer came along we were perfectly happy. We had just purchased our first house, adopted two cats, and life seemed cozy, if not predictable. The chance to move abroad forced us to re-evaluate our lives.
Were we truly happy? Should we branch out and move five thousand miles from home? Meet new people, be exposed to a new culture and new experiences? It was utterly tempting, but frightening all at the same time.
We decided to take the leap and moved to the US. We rented out our house, got pet passports for our cats, and left our home for a strange land. We arrived in the depths of a Minnesota winter. It was bitterly cold with snow everywhere. The first weeks were tough. Finding our way around, finding a place to rent, buying two cars, and opening a bank account. Everything felt utterly foreign and disorienting. I wondered whether we had made the right choice. I was not able to work, as my visa did not allow it. My family and friends were thousands of miles away.
They were tough times, but gradually we acclimatized: I learnt to say cell phone instead of mobile phone; I volunteered at a shelter and made friends; I passed my driving test and got a license; I adapted.
We have now been in the US for almost six and a half years and I became a citizen in 2010. Some days I wake up and feel like a foreigner, but other days I feel I belong. I am caught between two cultures it seems – but is this a bad place to be? I don’t think so. I have had so many unique experiences, and I know I am lucky to have had these opportunities. It has made me appreciate family, friends, my homeland and my new home. I realize the things I casually took for granted back home: cups of tea with friends, walking everywhere or getting the tube, fish and chips, prawn cocktail crisps, a pop down the pub for a ploughman’s lunch, Marmite on toast, and the British dry sense of humour (yes that’s humor with a ‘u’).
But, I also cherish the experiences I have had here: meeting people from all over the USA, visiting 20 US States, going to see Cubs and Bears games, going on a ridiculously long road trip, enjoying wide open spaces, big roads, cars, and houses…. I could go on.
I guess home is where the heart is, and mine is somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!