5 years ago today, I moved to another country – the United Kingdom. Mind though, I didn’t know I was going to stay here that long. When I came I thought I will stay for a couple of months to look after my niece. But things came out very differently than planned. Which I am very happy for.
My first impressions of England weren’t the best ones – overcrowded, everything smells of take-out and fish and chips or weed, nothing tasted as good as back home. But none of this made me change my mind. In just a few months I realised how much opportunities I have here, a possibility to grow like I couldn’t back at home. And soon enough I started to love this country, the incredibly polite people, who always want to chat, the big city that has everything you would ever need and the beautiful countryside that I discovered only a lot later.
It feels a lot longer than 5 years because so much has changed since the day I came here. SO MUCH. I’ve moved quite a few times, in fact now for the first time in 5 years I’ve lived in one place for this long (2 years). I’ve changed jobs from being an Au-pair to Admin Assistant in a law firm. I’ve met my partner and we even have bought and refurbished our house together. I am fluent in English (not Yorkshire though 😀 ) and a lot more.
I must admit it hasn’t been easy 5 years, I’ve struggled with anxiety, loneliness, not fitting in, feeling like an immigrant and missing home and my friends. Always being assumed Polish or any other Eastern European, but never Latvian. People, most of the time don’t even know where it is. And while at first, it bothered me, now I just think those people don’t know European countries, and that’s quite sad, considering we all live so close by! Also, a big struggle was to be more polite. Which might seem stupid, but where I come from you don’t say sorry for everything and don’t smile at people or have a random little chat. But that’s a norm for the British and when I was working as a waitress, I was constantly told to be nicer to people. Who would have thought that my Latvian culture would make me unpolite? I’ve gotten used to it now and it comes naturally, and I am proud of that. I could even say that that’s the best thing Britain has taught me.
A few more things that I’ve learned here and really appreciate are the opportunities that I have here. You can become whoever you want. The world is your oyster when you live in a big country like this with a good and stable economy. Being fluent in English also opens so much more doors. I don’t have to worry when I travel because there will always be someone who speaks English in all the world. I’ve also opened my mind about different cultures and religions because it’s the biggest mix of everything here. I’ve also opened my mind to food and exercise. I always thought I suck at sports because all my friends were good at running or playing ball games. Which made me not even want to try anything else. Little did I know I absolutely love exercising. Going to the gym and doing yoga is my favourite. And I know I would never do it if I still lived in Latvia. And of course, eating healthy. It’s a lot more accessible here. Here you can have a lot bigger choice of healthy food in stores.
So overall it’s been interesting 5 years. A lot of growth, overcoming obstacles and just having a completely different life. And I am looking forward to what will come next.