It’s been a whole year since we started the most exciting/terrifying adventure of our lives and moved our family from central Scotland to Pennsylvania, USA. 365 days; 3360miles; 7 visits from friends and family (we’re very lucky!); 1 visit home to Scotland; a gazillion thunderstorms; too many infected bug bites to mention; lots of fun adventures exploring our patch; and lots of new friends from around the world!
When we set out on this adventure, I was overwhelmed by the admin involved (see The Admin…Oh the Admin!) but eventually we settled into it and our house here very quickly began to feel like ‘home’, even more so when our belonging finally arrived from the UK… a mere 7 weeks after we got here!
Of course it was hard at first meeting new people and building a network of friends we could rely on and of course we felt homesick at times (see Ho, ho, homesick) but everyone was so welcoming that I had very few moments of feeling ‘alone’. Now I feel downright settled. It will never be the same as being with the friends I have had since I was 14 (see Evolving Friendships) but I have made some great friends here, some of which have already moved away (sniff) but many are still here and we catch up regularly.
I find the summer gives everyone a certain ‘chilled out’ vibe. The good weather does a lot to improve people’s mood (see Sunshine after the Rain) and activities often involve adults sitting back with a soda/beer while the kids play/splash/run around in the fresh air. It is so relaxing and is a great way to get to know our newer friends better. I can definitely get on board with that!
It is a running joke that in Scotland the ‘summer’ is usually one ‘taps off’ afternoon and then everyone gets back to the rain. Although that is a joke, there is an element of truth to it. ‘Summer’ does not necessarily mean months of sun, it can often be raining in July and occasionally we even have snow in late April/May. However, here the weather is reliably hot and this summer we have all got the best tans of our life! There are some crazy thunderstorms but usually the rain that follows will be restricted to part of a day, not weeks on end, so it is much easier to deal with. In fact, I remember being caught in one downpour with the kids shortly after we arrived and when we eventually made it into the car we all burst out laughing. It was quick but we were soaked to the skin and there was really nothing else for it!
Although this feels like a very quick year, there have been a lot of changes. I have certainly become more confident and outgoing, it has really been essential to make friends (see Changing Times), but the kids have developed massively too.
When we arrived our daughter had just turned 4 and although she was very articulate, she was still very young emotionally and was certainly prone to the odd tantrum or 17 a day. I wouldn’t say they don’t happen any more but they have certainly reduced in number and a lot of that is down to the excellent school she is in. She settled in very quickly and, because she goes every day, she immersed herself in American life and language. Before we knew what was happening, she was correcting us when we used British words for things instead of the American ones and she was teaching me the Star Spangle Banner! She doesn’t have an all out American accent, yet, but she is saying more and more that way because that is what she hears every day. With a bit of luck she’ll be able to switch between a Scottish/American accent with ease!
Looking back at pictures of our little boy though, I see the biggest change in him. He wasn’t yet 2 when we arrived and was very much still a toddler. Although he was talking it was still mostly single words and not always intelligible to anyone outside our family. Now though he is almost as chatty as his sister (and that is VERY chatty) and using fairly complicated language to express himself. He also has acquired an immense amount of knowledge of all things Marvel, for which he has his Dad to thank… he can tell you the name of Thor’s hammer as well as he can tell his shapes and colours!
All in all, I can’t quite believe that we have been here a year already. It certainly feels like a home, of sorts, but at the same time I know I will feel so happy when we visit Scotland again at the end of the year. I’m already starting a list of home comforts to enjoy and ‘proper bacon’ is pretty near the top of that list! For now though we are making the most of our opportunity to explore the States and can’t wait to see what the next two years brings our way…
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