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Tuesday 20 September 2011

There's No Place Like Home

It's no secret that I have been lucky enough to travel a reasonable amount, mainly around Europe, but also (with the exception of South America and Australia) briefly touching the other continents.That's not to say that there aren't a great many places I have yet to visit that are on my "to do" list!

I've also been lucky enough to spend extended periods of time living in other countries in my childhood and early adulthood. I'm therefore no stranger to adapting to different cultures, although to be fair they have been mainly Western European!

Whenever I go anywhere, whether for business or for pleasure, I therefore naturally find myself wondering what it would be like to live in the particular country I am visiting. In my head I've lived in the US, done the expat lifestyle in Dubai, lived the good life in France, and even returned mentally to Germany and Finland. Whilst there have never been concrete opportunities, I am sure if at any point I had really wanted to, I could probably have found a chance to push for one of those locations over the past *cough* years.

I do often wonder what has stopped me from taking the plunge. There was always an excuse or other. I guess the truth is that in a two-career household neither of us felt strongly enough about it in order to warrant the inevitable disruption to the other partner's career it would have entailed. Then there are the little excuses that creep in; Dubai is too hot (true, and very valid), the US seemed too far away at the time, France has too many smokers (although the wine may balance that out), Finland is too cold and dark for half the year, I don't think I could cope with the formality of Germany any more etc etc.

When it all comes down to it, this funny little island we live in suits me. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the UK is perfect - far from it by all means. What I am trying to say is that I guess I have finally realised it is kind of perfect for me - probably more by a process of elimination than anything else.

Of course, now that there are children to throw into the equation, and they now both at school, there are different considerations to bear in mind. There's no doubt I'd love to give my children the same experiences I had, and the ease at which they would now earn a foreign language is almost too good an opportunity to pass up. However, I also remember the stress it caused me in my own childhood - the stress of starting a new school in a whole different country when you already have a grasp of the language is reasonable is bad enough... Whilst I know, deep down, that children are adaptable, maybe I'm just not brave enough to take that chance with my own. Finally, from a purely selfish point of view I have friends and family here. I have a support network - not something to be underestimated as a working parent, after all.

It never stops you wondering though, does it...


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