This tag is: The hardest thing to get used to... When coming to a new country.
Truly my first and gut reaction to this question was: never fitting in ever again. I know that sounds negative and a little bit sad and wistful. I think it is those things, but there are positives as well.
When I first took the scary plunge and moved to another country I didn't know anyone else who had done it. Many people asked me what I was doing. They would look at me with a mixture of jealousy and distrust. They were never quite certain how to take me. I wasn't playing by the rules. I wasn't doing what they thought I would do. People who were parents would be secretly afraid that I would somehow bewitch their children to follow in my footsteps. People my own age were happy with their stability and their path. Many of them had thought about traveling but decided to do it once they were working full time. I didn't want to buy a house, get a dog, settle down, become financially stable right out of university? What was wrong with me?
Now that my life includes someone else, people are even more frightened. "Wait - she's in love? Does that mean she'll NEVER come back?" People have been slowly disappearing from my life, unsure of how to deal with me, unable to understand my choices and unable to deal with a long-distance relationship. When Mark and I are home we are strange. People have a kind of image of our life as being this romantic, artsy idyll. In theory they are jealous but in practice they ask us practical probing personal questions about money and which country we will end up in - hoping that we will say Canada because it is safer for them. In making the choices I have I have become either exotic or irresponsible or inspiring or frightening depending on who you ask.
In Canada I am someone who uses British words. It takes me about a week to stop saying things like 'trousers' and 'loo.' I try very hard not to talk about 'taking the piss,' and have to remember that we don't have 'bins.' In the UK I am always asked which part of America I am from. They ask how on earth I ended up in this part of the country. They ask how long I am on holiday for. One woman I met who moved here from Canada TWENTY-FIVE years ago says that she has started telling people that she's 'here for another week' because it's easier than constantly telling people your life story. When you are from somewhere else you can never just blend in and get on with it.
The other hard thing about moving to another country is the loneliness for family and friends. Babies are born and people die and you miss it. Kids grow up without you watching. Friends forget you. Like Claudia said, there is also the tendency to idealize home. You forget that things were just as hard and just as good for different reasons. And homesickness is a real bitch.
Ahhh... but there are some positives. This post was supposed to be about the hardest things. I can't leave it sad though because there are lots of things I love about my double life. I love how much quality time I do get with people when we are home. I love that people really are interested in who I am and what I am doing. I love that I am experiencing two cultures. I love that people can come and visit me. I love building a life with Mark. I love that because I have already broken some rules I can get away with breaking more! I love that my life is unusual.
But I still miss Canada and Canadians and my home every single day.
(I'd like to tag Kerstin - if anyone knows about moving to another country, it's her!)