Our story so far

Tuesday, 4 February 2014
flowers house-frontdoor
house
wykehamarms winchestercollege
street
house-decor lane
museum
HotelduVin-1

It's been a while since I had the opportunity to just wander around my own backyard aimlessly and photograph whatever catches my eye. The town looks particularly picturesque when the warm glow from the setting sun reflects on the surfaces of the buildings. We marveled at the beauty and considered ourselves very fortunate to be living here in Winchester. Five years seemed to have flown by in a blink of an eye.

We arrived in the U.K with the understanding that we'd be here for the long haul. The first year was tough. Initially, we settled briefly in a small town but boy, were we in for a rude awakening. The Lehman Brothers collapsed. U.K was hit by recession. It took 4 months to get the phone line working. Another month for internet. The neighbors were.........interesting. The playground was littered with broken glass, needles and whatnots. Teenage pregnancy was rife. The average age at these mommy groups was 15/16. I was 35. And we knew no one in Hampshire.

We were totally unprepared for our first ever blizzard in the UK (worst winter in 10 years). Our warmest coats from New Zealand were insufficient for the British weather. We were all violently sick on Christmas day AND snowed in. We ran out of medication and rationed what was left for Lil L. We waited till the 27th of December to make the mad dash to see a GP.  I vowed to not let anyone spend a Christmas alone since.

I knew that what we'd experienced was nothing compared to my sister in law's family who'd escaped the Khmer Rouge regime under showers of bullets, diving for cover and hoping for the best. Or a university acquaintance who drank to forget the atrocities he'd witnessed at Tianamen square. He barely escaped with his life and was then smuggled out of the country. But he lived in fear that he'd be found by the Chinese government.

As my husband and I strolled down one of the prettiest streets in Hampshire, he said, "we're so lucky to live here. "  I couldn't agree more. Five years on, we've made wonderful friends. Have you ever moved different continents? What's your experience been?




31 comments:

  1. That's such a beautiful story, I'm really glad you are happy where you are now. I was born in Germany but my parents are employed with the foreign ministry so only weeks after my mother gave birth to me we flew back to Moscow. At a time where you couldn't really leave the city. One year later my parents were up for a new challenge and headed for Lagos - they wanted something warm. All their friends said they were crazy, moving to such a place with a toddler. I must have had one of the best times there though if I look at the pictures and videos. Another two years later we were headed for the US, followed by Hungary and then finally Germany. I was soooo excited, my first time living "at home". But it was only two years and I was happy to move again. We went back to the US, then to Hungary again, this year I finally moved out to finish my Bachelor's but my parents are now going to London in summer and I will move back in and hopefully start my career in the UK!

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    1. My goodness, you've moved between so many diverse cultures. Would it be difficult for you to settle in one place permanently?

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  2. Marlene, thank you for sharing your story...these pictures certainly make the argument for your home being a beautiful place to live! Although I've only visited England, and never lived there, I always have this strange nostalgia for the place and its scenery--it feels very "home" to me.
    I've always lived in the US, but am the child of a Romanian and American. My parents met when my mom studied abroad in Romania...at the time of Communism under Ceasescu (yes, my mom is...different ;) My dad was harassed by the police, etc. for dating an American, so when they decided to get married, they had to take asylum at the American embassy, and had to leave the country immediately. It is incredible some of the things our loved ones have experienced--particularly your sister-in-law and friend, wow--and I am reminded how lucky I am.

    Alissa

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    1. Alissa, the first time I saw your surname, I thought that must be Romanian. I have several Romanian friends. But what an incredible story about your parents. Your mom is certainly different. I don't think I know of ANYONE who moved to Romania during the communist regime.

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  3. You seem to have gotten accustomed to life in the UK so well and I admire that in you coming from the other end of the world.
    I spent part of my childhood in the US, interned for a year in Tokyo and found my first job in New York City where I stayed for 2 years before returning to Paris. These experiences give you a kind of maturity (I hope) you wouldn't get otherwise. It was tough sometimes but I'm so proud and glad I went through it because it makes you ready to take on any other challenge. The odd thing though is that I feel like a foreigner in every country, including my own.

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    1. I know what you mean, Anne. If you've lived in too many places, you do pick up bits of the culture from each country. It's been 24 years since I'd left Borneo but each time I head back to see the relatives, I get mistaken for a foreigner. Sigh.

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  4. Ah man, I've been moving countries since I was 8 months old. The US, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Germany, England and now Switzerland. I feel a bit like a nomad and, more than struggling with adjusting to new places, I feel an inherent loss for not having roots anywhere. I'm really thankful that I grew up moving around and that now, as an adult, I've gotten to experience new places but there's definitely something to be said for having lots of friends in family all together in one place. I definitely yearn for that and hope that when I have kids one day I'm able to take them to lots of different places but also give them some solid roots.

    Moving to so many countries when I was a kid was relatively easy as it was all I knew. When I moved to the US at 16 (after having lived in the Middle East my whole life) that was a huge struggle. I'd always thought of myself as being American but then when I lived there I realized suddenly that I didn't fit in at all.

    When I was 20 and got married I moved from California to England. I think that was made a lot easier by the fact that the language was the same and going to university meant it was easy to meet people.

    We moved to Switzerland three years ago and I still feel a bit like an outsider. I don't speak Swiss German so that makes it difficult to talk to a lot of people but in general I've found that the Swiss are quite exclusive. They seem to be a bit wary of outsiders. Anyway, being here is made much easier by the fact that we have the most beautiful summers, the city is stunning and London is just an hour flight away.

    Thanks for sharing your story. xx

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    1. Jen, thank YOU for sharing your story. I'm just in awe after reading about the extent of your travels. In fact, you're the only person I know who has lived in this many countries. I think these days, there's the emergence of a new breed - the global citizen. We hold several passports and have no deep roots in any country. I can imagine how difficult it must be for you to live in Switzerland but not speaking the language.

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  5. Winchester reminds me of Hampstead, London, where I first lived when I came to live in the UK. After that, most places I lived were a disappointment! I always felt safe when I returned there after going shopping in Central London. Sadly, Hampstead is not like it was when I lived there. It's still beautiful, but too exclusive and there are too many chain shops. My first job was working on Saturdays at the local Boots Chemists. I found the dampness and greyness hard to take. But, I have an English mother who emigrated to the US, so had visited here often and was used to the food, and endless cups of tea.

    I lived in Switzerland for a year when I went to a boarding school. I loved my time there but didn't really experience a normal life living in a Swiss community. It did give me a life long love of train travel though.

    I still the NHS is a wonder, even though it is constantly criticized especially by people from the United States. It has helped me on many occasions, and I am grateful.

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    1. I've been to Hampstead a few times and wow, it's beautiful. And yes, very exclusive. You know what....I can't begin to tell you all how much I appreciate that you share your stories here. It's wonderful to read how many of us who have moved around so much in our life.

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  6. It's been really interesting to learn about your experience moving abroad, both through your comments to me and this post. I'm counting down the days until my big move (11!!) and am hopeful it will go without a hitch, but I suppose we will see!

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    1. My husband grew up in Sydney and he still loves the place. All the best for your move.

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  7. Beautiful photos Marlene. What a lovely looking village, I can understand why you must love living there! That first year for you and your family sounds like it was tough stuff but you live and you learn I guess. And I'm very glad you live here in the UK because if you didn't I wouldn't of had the lovely pleasure of meeting you :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

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  8. You live in a very pretty town. Glad everything has worked out for you and your family after the initial hiccups! I moved from Poland to Austria to Australia together with my family when I was a child. I have stayed put since, but how knows what the future holds :)

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    1. I had no idea. I thought you were born and bred Australian. Gosh, what a journey.

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  9. I'm going straight off to look at house prices and look at jobs, I've even sent hubs this post with "want to move here one day' header.

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  10. Can I ask how you made friends? I know hardly anyone here, I know it would be easier if I had a child as there's be playgroups and school etc, I live like a singleton but one who stays in all the time!

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    1. People here are pretty sociable. All you have to do is meet one and they'll generally introduce you to the rest of their friends. If you ever move here......I'll do the honors :P

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story! My parents moved to The Netherlands when they were in their early twenties and although initially had plans to move on to the UK, they stayed. For a few years I've been feeling a bit restless and have been thinking of relocating. The thought of it excites and scares me so much. If I ever have the same courage as you and your family, then hopefully one day I may be brave enough to pack my suitcase and make that move.

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    1. I know what you mean, Kayin. I think the most difficult part of the move is the initial 2 years where you're struggling to find a network of friends, understand where/how to get around etc.

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  12. Captivating - you had my attention from start to finish - you live in a beautiful part of the world

    Fiona

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    1. you'll have to come visit me then. You promised!

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  13. Your town is lovely Marlene. Used to work in Southampton for a while so ventured out to your patch from time to time.

    I moved here from Indonesia just over 16 years ago. It was totally unexpected; but with year 2000 looming the work visa for IT people (which I am) was easier to obtained. It was such a good opportunity to pass so decided to take the plunge, despite only know a handful of people. Thought if it didn't work out I could always move back, and gained experiences along the way.
    And I never looked back. Used to travel a lot with work which I absolutely loved. Eventhough it also meant I didn't get a chance to build a community around me as I was mostly home only weekends.
    But then settled down and had children and now I only work part time and virtually no work related travel. Finally had a chance to build a community around me. Staying put and living in an area which I love (also had a fair share of living in not so nice places).

    The funny thing is, everytime I go to Indonesia to visit my family, I still refer it as "going home" (Pulang kampung) even though I haven't been living there for the past 16 years. Even my dad still asks "Kapan pulang?" :)

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    1. Oh wow. Southampton! Whereabouts from Indon are you from? Hubby's from Indonesia too.

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    2. I no longer live in London. Lived in several rented places in Isleworth, Kew, Weybridge then finally settled in Maidenhead.
      Whereabout in Indonesian is your hubby from?
      I am stalking you in instagram as I love your pics :)

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    3. LOL. Stalk away. He was originally from Bandung but had spent more time outside of Indon.

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    4. Bandung? I went to uni there! It was such a lovely place. The area around my uni was really nice and cool as it was on a higher ground. Though it has changed so much since I left.

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  14. I love hearing your story and I'm so happy you call the UK your home now! I have never moved but I would love to live somewhere abroad for a little while, I think it would be search a great experience to get me out of my comfort zone!
    Winchester looks so beautiful in your snaps, I really need to visit my friend who lives there!

    xoxo
    Stacey
    Five Minute Style 

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    1. You'll have to pop by for a visit then, Stacey.

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