A Reader in London Ponders a Return Back to her Native Texas

Posted on April 23, 2009 by peacefulyorkshire

yahooavatar15Us three ladies on this blog get to know many of your worries. We’re glad that you can trust us enough to share your thoughts and troubles-we get many stories about your experiences in the UK. Believe us, we love it and don’t mind if you need a place to vent (see our strap line above for verification!). In our short 6 months of blogging we have 6,000 readers a month now come visit us and some leave us stories (we’re chuffed!). From your worries about UK visa approval, to your British partner’s hygiene, to your homesickness, to your long-distance trans- Atlantic relationships, to being broke and not having enough to eat, to not being able to get a job, to not making friends in the UK, to moving your child here, to the bad weather, to ranting about Bed and Breakfast etiquette (oh wait, that last one was just me)— WE’VE READ IT ALL!

From our About page Lisa writes:

“hi, I’m glad I found this site too! I’m an american who has lived in Greater London for 9 years now (married a brit). In all this time, I still haven’t met any good friends (keep in mind, we have a 6yo daughter so I’ve been and done all the baby/toddler group mingling as well). I’ve got 1 friend, if you can call her that, whom I go shopping with occasionally and that is it…and she only calls me when her man isn’t busy spending time/money with her. The “aloofness” of UK girls is REALLY getting to me…I want to find some girlfriends who will just open up and chat, chat, chat! Because I feel isolated, I often find myself wanting to uproot and take my daughter back to Texas so I can see my parents and friends again. It is so hard b/c financially, my husband and I are better here. We have an age gap and he would find it too difficult/expensive in TX. So if I did move, he’d stay here. That would NOT be good for our daughter….so I’m feeling very torn right now. Any tips how to get over all this??”

Lisa, I completely understand your feelings! In fact, we have posted about some of these situations ourselves. Just know you are NOT ALONE! You might find some of our posts helpful:

So, in closing and as we grow in readership I want to ask the sassy-brilliant-and-smart-as -a-whip-She’s Not From Yorkshire community what would you answer to Lisa in London?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Sally Ann December 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve been living in the UK for the past 30 years, originally from Wisconsin, I married a brit. Got divorced some 3 years ago, have two grown sons, and now thinking of making the move back to the USA! Really scared, but excited too! Scared, as I will be leaving behind all that I know, plus my two sons. Excited, because it will be all new beginnings.

    • yankeebean December 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      A big HUGE ‘best of luck’ on your pending move! I sometimes wonder what I’d do if my other half wasn’t around anymore. I think I’d probably move back, too…

  2. Pingback: Moving back to America after living in England (a little advice) | She's Not From Yorkshire

  3. Lisa June 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Hi again,

    Thanks for the tips/advice. :o ) It’s always appreciated!

    Michelloui-you are right about the TX southern hospitality not working well here in the UK…when I first came here, I wasn’t aware of the cultural differences and waved to people I passed to say hello. OOPS-they looked at me like I was insane. I soon learned that was a no-no here (and not to mention, so many people walk around as opposed to driving- I couldn’t have kept up with the waving anyway)! What’s really funny is that when I lived in TX, I was NOT one of the chitty-chatty, happy-go-lucky types who was always smiling and saying hi…but since coming here, I’ve yearned for it. Haha-the grass is always greener.

    Let me correct one thing…over these 9 years of being over here, I’ve had numerous acquaintences….it just takes alot more for me to call a person a friend. It seems like many moms know their friends from schooldays and aren’t interested in meeting anyone else. And I’m sure some don’t agree with my and my husband’s age gap(I think that’s pretty close-minded but people do have their own ideas of “normal” and can’t be swayed). There is an american girl down the street from me who I’d like to meet but she’s having her 3rd kid, an extension built and seems sort of busy with other things. Story of my life. So at the moment I’m just looking forward to my visit to TX in July…YIPPEE!!!

    Sukey-what you said is pretty much the reason I’m still in the UK. I do not want to uproot and take my daughter back to the US and so far from her dad…even though it is very tempting when I am homesick. I know my daughter is probably going to thrive more by being here and seeing her grandparents yearly rather than me moving there, me then having to get a job, be away from her dad etc. I think sometimes I just feel desperate and am willing to run back to my parents in hopes I’ll feel at home again! I think to myself: my parents would give her more attention than my husband does, I’d have my friends, a good neighborhood. But then, over here my child has her dad. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

    My mom moved from Germany to the US when she was almost 20. She met my dad there and stayed permanently-so I suppose part of me thought if my mom was able to do that, I could manage this. Different people, different strengths…my mom is alot more independent so I think I’ve found the distance alot harder to deal with than she would have with her German family. Also, one can’t have everything and I think that also bugs me. :)

  4. Michelloui April 24, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Hi again Lisa,

    I was thinking about this a bit and I realised that it might be worse for you because you’re from TX! Let me explain. When my family moved from OK to MN I was nine and I very clearly remember going for drives on Saturday/Sunday with my parents and my dad getting irritated because when he waved at people on the roadside no one waved back, and even worse, they looked at him like ‘do I know you?’ He called it the Scandinavian Cold. It was very hard for my Southern parents to understand the reserve of the northern Minnesota inhabitants but after a while they got used to it, they made friends (through work, shared interests and school parents) and now they just smile at the MN eccentricity. Perhaps it helps to keep in mind that the friendly Texas attitude of yours is a polar opposite to the English reserve, but it doesn’t mean they dont want to be friends!!

  5. Cinda April 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I found the people in the village where we stayed (my 10 yr old and I) very friendly and accomodating. Very curious about us and the easy american lifestyle, or so they thought.

    What I observed is that the lifestyle was so different from what I was used to, I am a very friendly person, not afraid to say hello to a stranger but the britts are very keep to themselves people. The men were way friendlier than the women but that can be a difficult friend to have if you are in a relationship with another man. I would’ve thought before going there that if you are on a long train ride or bus ride and sitting next to someone that it would be easy to strike up a conversation, boy was I wrong. Body language dictated that they were not very open to that. Further confirmed it when we were booked on the “quiet” car on the train once, sends a clear message. What was really weird is to sit across and next to someone for 2 hours and there be no exchange, other than “excuse me” because they were getting in their bag or going to the bathroom, even Britt to Britt. There is something to this with the Britts…I can be out in America and strike up a friendly conversation and make new friends so easily but in England there was a standoffishness that is present amongst the people.

    I have no advice to give but if it makes you feel any better it has nothing to do with you than it does the culture there. But I did meet some of the friendliest, caring people that frequented the pub that belonged to my boyfriend. I saw them everyday and that helped break the bubble but out and about was a different story. Also, the britts that I met that traveled a lot were more open than the ones that didn’t. One of the patrons in the pub that was a regular was Cumbrian and he told me that it took him 27 years to be considered part of the group there…so clearly you have to earn your way in some cases. But the kicker to all this…is the gossiping that went on about everybody amongst the Britts, on a scale that I never experienced…it is a very strange world there….

  6. J April 24, 2009 at 10:08 am

    What has worked best for me is to join recreational organisations. I was a medieval re-enactor in America, so I’ve joined a medieval re-enactment group here, and that’s where most of my friends come from. Maybe you should look into that as an option. Do you have any hobbies? Games? I know there are lawn bowling leagues and a board game club here in York; surely London has something similar?

    You might even try looking on meetup.com to see if there are any other sorts of groups going on in your area. But maybe the ticket here is to find a group of people with whom you already have something in common.

  7. Rachel April 24, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Lisa — I cannot sympathize directly, but I empathize. I’ve moved several times even within the US and have found it very similar to what you are discussing in California as opposed to my native Ohio. I don’t have any specific advice other than I feel your pain and wish you the very best in whatever solution you choose.

    She’snotfromyorkshire ladies — Since you mentioned VISA strife — I feel like I need to post a little information here for your readers who are considering coming the UK. My VISA application that I sent in under the Tier 1 program in March was declined due to a mistake I had made. The problem is that the UK has recently changed their immigration laws (April 1st) so that this VISA will only work if you have a Master’s Degree. I, personally, do not, so it has been a lesson in Murphy’s/Sod’s Law. For anyone out there considering a move to the UK — be forewarned that the Tier 1 and now the student VISA (Tier 4) have been made stricter due to the economy. Sorry, ladies, but I guess my daydreams of taking you all out for tea one day soon will not be coming to pass in the near future. :(

  8. Sukey April 24, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Are you serious about taking your daughter back to the US and separating her from her father? You could do her such damage …. you really must find other ways to solve your problem. Also, she is a little english girl, are you certain she would settle in the US, away from her own culture and people? And what about her picking up an american accent over there – if you changed your mind and came back to britain she would be stuck with sounding like a yank and be unmercifully teased at school. You should try to settle in Britain – after all, the british girls have close girlfriends- go out any night and the pubs and restaurants are full of all-female groups having a great time, so they cant all be aloof and standoffish – perhaps they just dont like americans. Why not join an american womans group as suggested above?

  9. Michelloui April 23, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    Ugh, it sounds miserable. But dont move yet, not if everything else is going well! And that friend who is only around when her man isn’t, ditch her! She isn’t doing your confidence in British women or in friendships any good!

    Good friends are out there.

    After nineteen years if Living in the UK (Northumberland, then London then Essex) I only have seven very good girl friends in the UK. Two of those are British! The rest are from Italy, Australia, and Malaysia. One of my friends and I joke that we are the FWI, the Foreign Womens Institute (though we don’t make jam or sing jerusalem).

    I have had good work mates, but the friendship fades as the job finishes. I have had good acquaintances through other school parents, or through my husband’s work.

    Those seven friendships have lasted because of several reasons. Firstly, the usual: shared interests, similar sense of humour, geographical proximity, etc. Another reason they have lasted, especially the friendships with the other expats is a shared history of being displaced. We have become ‘family replacements’ for each other, in a way. We also understand what it is to be foreign. We share stories about adjusting to living in the UK and about being homesick.

    Tips for meeting and making friends? Seek out other people with similar interests, or similar situations such as expats–not just other Americans.

    Invite couples over for dinner, or to the pub or to a restaurant together. Sometimes it’s easier to break the ice with the couple, then if you and the woman get along you can suggest, ‘hey, lets meet up for coffee sometime!’ or if you both like art suggest you go to a few galleries sometime, etc.

    Join a class: language, art, wine, cookery…

    Don’t wait to find a class or a club, do it yourself. Set up a club–a historical walks of London club, or a dining club, or something you can do once a week or once a month. Get everyone’s mobiles, websites, blogs whatever and stay in touch with them for the purposes of the club, the ones who respond most to you are the ones you can ask if they would like to meet up for a coffee at another time.

    My Australian friend who had twins set up a ‘twins club’ for all multiple birth mum’s to bring their babies and toddlers to and socialise.

    My best success with the British women has been to Listen. Ask them questions about themselves, look interested in them. People need to be listened to and if someone has gone away from meeting you feeling like they have been listened to, they will feel much more positive about the experience.

    These are just a few thoughts and ramblings just before bedtime but perhaps some of them help…? Hope so and good luck!

  10. Iota April 23, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    How about finding an American Women’s group? – should be easy in Greater London.

    I do sympathise. English women aren’t aloof (not all of them, anyway), but it can be hard to make friends. If it makes Lisa feel better, I know plenty of English friends who moved to a new place (often out of London to the countryside) when they had kids, who have struggled to find friends. It’s a sad thing to hear. I think it takes time, but 9 years does seem like a long time to be without good friends.

    So why not find yourself some Americans instead – I do honestly think you Americans are better at making friends speedily.

    Also, Lisa could look at this website

    http://britishmummybloggers.ning.com/

    which has a blogging group of “expat mums now in Britain”. I know for a fact that there are some American mums in there.

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