Life Abroad – It’s not always rainbows and sunshine

When Andy and I first made the decision to move abroad, I experienced a mix of emotions – excitement, nervousness, sadness, fear and a bit of anxiety.

What was it going to be like moving abroad? How would I make friends? Where would I go to buy ordinary things? Would I have to learn the metric system? What’s the NHS like? Did it really rain as much as people say it does?

Prior to moving to London, I underwent a back surgery. Six weeks before moving to London to be exact. I have suffered from back pain for as long as I can remember but suffered through a severe spout of pain nine months before moving here. I spent months and months in physical therapy, had six steroid injections for the pain and finally, when I started experiencing nerve damage, was advised by my doctor to consider surgery.

I had my back surgery exactly six weeks before getting on a plane to move here. It was scary as I was not sure what to expect and whether I’d be recovered enough to physically make the trip here. I couldn’t pack (hence why the packing posts basically spell out a nightmare!) and relied on Andy and my mom to help me – since bending, twisting and especially lifting post-surgery were out of the question.

Initially I was excited about the move here because I thought it’d do wonders to my newlywed marriage to Andy. But add in an injury, a surgery and the realization that you are moving across the world where the only person you know is your husband, and I wasn’t so sure this is what we meant by “in good times and bad”. I was terrified to leave behind the family that I’m so close to and worried what life as Almontes Abroad would be like.

In our first four weeks here, we basically lived in three temporary apartments (yes, three), one of which we discovered had bedbugs (!), before settling into our home now. It was, needless to say, a headache to move from one flat to the next (all with Penny in tow!) but it also left me feeling defeated – as if London was telling us it did not want us here.

Andy and I second guessing our decision to move to London

I was meant to start working immediately after moving here but things didn’t work out as planned. So, I found myself unexpectedly unemployed with a husband who worked (and still works) long hours.

This meant that I was left to figure it out on my own. Sort out the house, buy shit, figure out where to buy shit, etc etc – all while still recovering from the back surgery. It wasn’t easy and I spent a lot of time alone (well, with Penny).

Ivonne & Penny Almontes Abroad

It definitely tested my patience and my relationship with Andy.

But slowly, things got better. We figured out the NHS system, Penny made lots of dog friends, I started dedicating more time to blogging, we started travelling and, eventually, I started working again. We hit the gym, discovered lots of cool things to do in London, and started realizing that our rough welcome was just part of the challenge of moving abroad. Slowly, London started to feel like home.

The past year of life abroad has been filled with lots of ups and downs – to be honest, probably more downs than ups (damn you bed bugs!!) but the moral of the story is that anything that’s worth doing is going to be a challenge at first. That’s what makes it most rewarding.

My back will always be an issue same way Andy will always work long hours and Penny will always have more friends than Andy and I combined. The difference now is that we feel more grounded and more settled into our lives as expats, and confident we can tackle whatever it throws at us. Yes, there are times that we miss our family and friends, and things are difficult and stressful. No, things aren’t always perfect (and yes, the weather really is crap) but we’re ok with that. Most importantly, we’re living abroad – something we’ve always wanted to do – and having a good time doing it (all three of us).

I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the personal side of moving abroad. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you!