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Expat Frustrations...

I'm really feeling miserable today. It seems it's becoming a real trend these days. I've been consciously staying away from blogging because I really hate to be a wet blanket, and since a lot of what's bothering me has to do with being an expat - I hate to seem miserable all the time because I wouldn't want to give future expats the wrong impression of life as an expat. Everyone's experiences are different, so if you are a future expat, please keep in mind that what your reading may not be 'the norm' for all expats...
I have a lot of frustrations lately due to living here. I feel like I'm 15 again and depending on someone else for everything I do. I don't drive here, don't have a bank account or any friends for that matter. This leaves me lonely, walking a lot (way too often in the rain!) , asking for rides and asking my husband to write me checks for various things. It's a real frustration and it's starting to really get to me.
I don't drive here for a couple of reasons 1) For my first year here, my New Jersey DL expired and I couldn't drive here without it. After I went back and got it all sorted out, I guess I lost my nerve and I've been really afraid of trying to learn to drive here. 2) We only have one car and my husband needs it for work - plus, it's a stick shift which I don't know how to drive; not only will I have to learn how to drive on the roads here, but I'll have to learn to drive a stick shift as well as being on the wrong side of the road driving on the wrong side of the car! I keep telling myself that because we only have one car it's not like learning to drive is going to make my life any easier because I won't have a car to drive!
I also can't seem to get a bank account in this country (because I don't have any established credit here) so everything I do, comes out of my saving in my US account or out of my husbands pocket (makes me feel like saying 'thanks Dad' everytime he has to give me money). I can't write checks and half the time, I can't use my debit card because it doesnt have 'chip and pin' and a lot of stores won't except my card. This is more frustrating than you can imagine because it's inconvenient and really expensive with the exchange rate.
I stopped carrying a hand bag when I moved here because basically, I don't have anything to put in it. I don't carry keys when we go out because I don't drive, I quit smoking so no need to carry cigarettes and lighter, I don't have to carry a cell phone when we're out because I don't have any friends here so nobody calls me and I don't carry a wallet because there isn't a lot to put in it (no need to carry a driver's license I'm not using etc etc). So no hand bag. What I wouldn't do to need a hand bag again! A hand bag means you have a life, so girls - next time it's bugging you because your's is too heavy - consider yourself lucky!
The highlight of my week is meeting with my personal trainer because for a couple of hours, twice a week, it gives me the illusion of friendship. We laugh and talk and get on real well and for a little while, I feel normal. But the truth is that we're not friends. I've never seen him outside of the gym, we don't chat on the phone or go out for coffee - he's my trainer and as much as I like him - that's about all he is.
I'm supposed to be making calls to get some things going for my new business, but all week I haven't been able to get the nerve to pick up the phone because I have this overwhelming feeling that people won't want to deal with me because I'm American. I may be wrong about that, but I'm truly afaid to find out.
To top off my day, I had a fight with my Mother earlier and it just really upset me considering I was feeling down before she called. Maybe it's just one of those days, but I have to say that lately, it feels like one of those months!
I really miss my friends...


andrea said…
Hi Erren! I am so sorry you are having such a hard time, I wish I could give you some advice but I have only been here 4 days and I am sure I will have similar days where I feel the same way! Have you guys tried getting a joint account added to his account? That is how we did it with Lloyd's and they didn't even ask for proof that I lived here or anything, which is probably a little sketchy but it worked! How far are you from London?
andrea said…
i tried to post something but don't know if it will work. cheer up, i know it will get better! how far are you from london? email me at andrthomas at yahoo dot com if you want to talk!
Beth said…
Hi Erren! I found you through Mo's blog links. I've been in Dublin for four years with my Irish husband and I'm hearing your frustrations! Like Andrea, a joint account is the way to go. Also, make sure you get your name added to things like the electricity bill, that way you have "proof" for even the little things like a video rental card. Other than that, just hang in there, it will get better!!
Sara said…
AGREED! (oh, and sorry for appearing stalkerish, but I'm going backwards to hit what I missed since the craziness of moving)
Ask if your husband can help you open a joint account. Otherwise, have him put some bill in your name as well (utility, council tax, etc) so that you have some mail of a prestigious sort coming to your house with your name on it. If he goes in with you, and you can prove that your a resident, you can get an account. It's a bit obscene how backwards the Brits are on this. But, I opened my account on Wednesday of last week, and am a proud owner of a brand new PIN card!
Come meet up with me in London! I don't have a car either, but I'm terribly lonely, esp during the World Cup etc. Okay... I'll stop stalking now!
Nancy said…
oh my God, i feel your frustration too. Just got my new brit DL last october and had to take lessons, wow the practical was hard!. I had a week like yours this week, my family all in chicago, whereas my husband can visit his anytime. Makes you lonely sometimes.

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