• Rachel White Gordon

Living abroad in the age of COVID

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

An unusual twist in the journey of living abroad would be the pandemic.

I realise this has been a big twist for the whole wide world, but on a 'me scale',  let me tell you how it’s been.

Covid , you big bastard!

Not only are you globally awful, but for the second time since I have started living here,

I am not allowed to visit home in the UK.

The first time was for over a year, during US gov shutdown, which slowed down my green card process.

There is a difference between being able to visit home at any point and not being allowed to travel at all, even if you do not have a trip planned. Recently even the smallest things have reminded me of home. I am culturally and socially , immersing myself in my new home, for example, eating a lots of bbq wings, and going to an actual batting cage (those baseball cages where a machine throws baseballs at you).

But this does not mean that I lose the identity of my own country. For example, a love of Scotland's national fizzy orange drink, Irn Bru, our main export Scots Whisky, A wonderful TV show Gary; Tank Commander, and a fondness for the royal family.

A new TV doctor telly programme premiered recently, featuring a Scottish doctor MD (played by John Hannah), I find myself oddly comforted when watching this. I remember in my first few months of living here, watching Glastonbury on tv, really enjoying it , and then , suddenly bursting into tears. What the actual hell was going on? 

I realised I was missing British culture.

Yes I was missing the humour, the places, the people.

I had essentially been plucked from my comfortable BBC2 watching sofa,

and landed on the bleachers of a massive American football stadium.

No more Pizza Express or rugby, hello Dunkin’ donuts and baseball.

So how do you keep in touch with home, and ultimately, yourself?

I try to keep in touch with home as much as I can. I am aware that to live here though, I must remain in the present , be in the moment and be open to everything my new country has to offer. A video call to friends or family back home is an essential channel of communication. It may not be the same as in person, but you can still have a cheeky wine night, and you can see their faces.

I try and keep up with British TV, you bet your ass I’m going to be watching the Bake off, when it premieres here 3 DAYS AFTER THE UK. There is nothing like a bit of baking to wind down, and reinforce your identity.

I read a lot of British  books, from authors such as Bryony Gordon, Bella Mackie and Rachel Clarke , woven into those written by Americans such as Lori Gottlieb, Chanel Miller and Cheryl Strayed. Each exploring different experiences, within different cultures. I remember fondly , the ways of the home country , getting a warm glow when any of them mention the NHS.

Getting the balance right is important, and I sometimes feel it tips one way more than the other. But you know what, I’m always going to be me, loving Ant and Dec, but also watching the Bachelor here in my new home. After all we named our kitten after the host Chris Harrison, while my Dad in Scotland insists on calling him 'Morrison'.

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