Somewhere in the last few weeks, I celebrated the end of my first year as a UK resident. The year has really flown by, and it made me realise how much cool stuff I’ve gotten to do in the last year. When Our Friend Liz was here, she asked if we’d traveled much. We said “oh, a little…” and then reeled off a list that was much longer than we’d even been aware of. I went to Israel, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, and The Netherlands, plus some really beautiful places in the UK. I’ve done some really cool stuff in the last year. Of course, its been hard, too – moving to a new country is a grand adventure blah blah blah but its also stressful, lonely and isolating. The weather has been terrible, cold in the summer and dark in the winter, and damp all the time. And making friends is an ongoing challenge. I’ve met some really nice people and have been lucky enough to get lots of love from the states, but I don’t have a go-to group. Ian and I don’t have much opportunity to do things spur-of-the-moment if we want to invite other people and we’re not in a position to turn down invitations. That said, we do get (and reciprocate) invitations, and its rare that we go a week without a social event of some sort. I’d prefer three or four social events, but its a start. And its amazing that the desperate things I did in my first days here have paid off – when I accosted a couple looking at the same rental property, I didn’t imagine that we would still be hanging out with them a year later, but we are.
After a year of living here, I feel pretty settled: the fitness instructors at Kelsey Kerridge all know my name (I am immensely proud of that) and we even went out on the town together a few weeks ago. The guy at the Turkish market with amazing produce knows that I don’t like to use plastic bags (and they have cevapcici! SO EXCITING!). The girl at the coffee shop knows me because I have a really sweet travel mug that I bought when the local fancy furniture shop was going out of business (they also sold housewares), and she’s jealous of it. I haven’t used Google maps to navigate around Cambridge in weeks. When I moved here, I was always finding new cycle paths, but I haven’t found any new ones in months.
There were things about living here that came quickly: I got a bike and a mobile phone and a Network Rail Card and learned to use the currency without fumbling. All of that was a big deal to me – “see? I belong here! I’m legit!” but there have been more subtle recent developments, like the grocery guy recognising me. Cambridge is small and they speak my native language, but nonetheless, I know my way around here. The city has become mine, in a small way