When a Southerner Leaves Home

18 08 2010

California may technically be part of the good old U.S. of America, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, compared to my beloved South, it feels like a foreign country. So what’s a girl to do? Well, dive in, soak it up, and enjoy all a new place has to offer, of course.

I have several friends who have gone through similar experiences, moving to exotic locations such as Illinois, Hawaii, and even Europe. So when husband and I found out we were moving a few months back, I sought out the advice of these adventurers before me for their little tips on how to transition to a new world. While I do hope you’ll pardon my slight dramatic flair, moving especially from a place you call home, can feel at best unfamiliar, and unsettling. But there are ways to make it a little easier.

While I’m still just starting to get settled into our new home, finding friends, a church home, activities, routines, my dear friend Ashli has navigated a new home in an actual foreign country. She and her husband have leapt across the pond to Europe, and have amazing adventures and travels overseas. Ashli and I met in college, and I’m so grateful we’ve been able to maintain a relationship despite thousands of miles between (thank goodness for blogs, Facebook, email!). She’s one of those friends I’m so glad to know — and always just the teensiest bit envious of her fabulous life.  A Southerner transplanted to the UK, Ashli is the epitome of grace, intelligence, and beauty, and she’s been a wealth of advice, so I’ve asked her to share a little of what she’s learned along the way, just in case any of you ever have to leave home.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Ashli!

Ashli at Notre Dame, photo courtesy of her personal blog

Several years ago my husband and I relocated from Virginia to the United Kingdom. It was quite the transition! Since our dear friend Ginger just relocated out of the south — not quite a new country, although it might feel like it — I thought I’d share a few relocation tips:

1. Get Involved. Join the local library, the local gym, or some kind of social group. Try to get plugged in to community as soon as you arrive in your new home. The sooner you put down roots and start enjoying friendships, the more you’ll get adjusted and feel accustomed to your new life.

2. Appreciate what’s unique about where you live. What does your new locale have to offer? For example, when I moved to Scotland I joined the organization Historic Scotland. This membership gives me free entry to tons of castles and historic sites. I’ve also committed myself to experiencing as much as possible about the British culture. When I moved to Britain, one thing I knew I had to do while I lived here was attend a British wedding. Just this past weekend I went to the most amazing British wedding — one full of all things traditional and English. It was grand!

3. You might need to bring a few necessary items for your new pantry but also make sure to enjoy the adventures of all things new. There might be a few items on your grocery list you can no longer find when you move out of the south. There’s likely not going to be any Milo’s Sweet Tea in California, similar to there being no Lipton onion soup mix here in Scotland. (How do they make casseroles?!?!)  Next time you’re in the south, buy a few extra special goods to bring back to your your new home. If my grandmother hasn’t already sent me a few packets of Lipton’s onion soup mix, I make sure to pick a few up at the grocery store in the US to haul through British customs and into the tiny kitchen at my flat. While I have to make do with not having every ingredient at hand, I do like the small adventures of buying fresh fruit from the sidewalk stand on the way in to work everyday or picking up fresh fish at the fishmongers. Outings like these might be small, but they are enjoyable ways to enjoy the new surroundings!

4. Don’t stop being yourself. This is most important! The South truly is particularly friendly. Southerners always make eye contact and smile at anyone they pass along the street. They also talk to the cashier at the store and to any stranger they might come across during the day. It’s not like this everywhere else. But don’t get discouraged! Keep your chin up. Keep being kind to everyone you encounter. Others might not warm up to you, but you’re still exuding grace and kindness everywhere you go and that’s what really counts!




2 responses

18 08 2010
Suwannee Refugee

Great thoughts! The one I would add for this is something I learned while living in Africa. There will come the moment when you say” Crap, what did I do moving way out here.” Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment rather than trying to figure a way out.

16 09 2010

Hi Ginger! Thanks so much for including my thoughts on your big move. I hope your days in Cali are full of blessings and fun. Cheers!

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