Sunday, 7 October 2012

Mind the Gap please! This is what I hear constantly as I venture on to the tube. Mind the gap between the comfort of my previous American life and The European adventure. Well the British automated voice doesn’t actually say that, but that is what I hear. The last 2 weeks have been an adventure to say the least.  We sold almost all of our belongings including our cars and packed our bags and moved across the pond with heavy hearts of missing our friends and family but with an adventure in our soul! Chris is fulfilling a life-long dream of attending seminary. Seminary has been a calling that has been placed in his heart at the ripe young age of 15 and we are thrilled that we are here! Cheerio!

What an adventure! I want to write a novel, “Lisa is perpetually Lost in London”…catchy phrase but not entirely true! I have actually been finding my way around quite nicely…that’s my British accent seeping through. I will be like talking like Madonna before you know it. The fact that I have not lost my way taking Public transportation is just by the grace of God, because if you know me, you know directions are not my thing, oh no. Where do I begin? As I pictured London, I pictured this glamorous lifestyle. I even thought of the Fergy song…you all know it…G L A M O R O U S. I pictured the queen visiting us for tea, lunch with Kate and William, wearing big hats, and seeing musicals every weekend…ok not exactly, but it is quite the contrary.  I pictured us living in a cottage like the one pictured in the movie the “Holiday!” Actually, we live in a small quaint town just on the outskirts of London. It is so cute and everyone is very friendly.  Well the neighbors on both sides at least. We live adjacent to a Retirement home and I smile at the elderly people but they always seem like they are on a mission and there is no time for smiling, especially at complete stranger.  Anywho, we are in walking distance of the tube, the grocery stores, a few ethnic restaurants and Boots (The local pharmacy). Speaking of the grocery store, we walked 2 miles home carrying 5 bags of groceries last week…rookie mistake! That will never happen again!  We don’t have a Starbucks near, but we do have COSTA, which has become my favorite! They got me…the cup says “U.K.’s favorite coffee!” I wonder if that is because there is not a Starbucks around, therefore we are forced to drink Costa to fulfill our coffee addiction.  Well played Costa. Actually rumor has it they shut down Starbucks and are very proud! I guess that is quite an accomplishment, so they are justified in celebrating their achievement!

We have been able to venture into the city a few times and see the breathtaking sites of London. It’s a surreal experience to be so close to the Tower Bridge , Big Ben, English desserts, Oh sorry, The London eye, etc. Pictures just don’t do it justice. Cambridge was absolutely amazing. It was like a dream. You think these types of places only exist in the movies like Harry Potter, but they are quite real.  The city of London reminds me a lot of New York City, which happens to be my favorite city of all time. I know, I am such an American! I can’t deny how much I love it! I love the vibe of the city. London is very similar. Like I said though, we live on the outskirts so we aren’t basking in the big city and bright lights-it is just in arms reach.

Back to Glamorous…The City of London is quite glamorous. As we arrived to our new house, I instantly felt the difference of American Living. Not to mention we have not been able to take a hot shower in almost 3 weeks and they have not been in a hurry to fix it. 2 days in the U.S would be unacceptable and someone would be hearing an ear full.  I had to write a very blunt email to explain how important it is for me and my personaL hygiene to shower, well I said that in so many words. I don’t think I have ever had to write an email like that before!  Our bedroom is very very tiny and Chris and I kept bumping into each other so that was annoying but we got over it fast. By "getting over it" I mean he is moving his things into the guest room.  I miss having a dishwasher and I miss taking dry clothes out of the dryer, they are always damp here. We miss being able to jump in a car and drive places we need to go. These are the things I immediately noticed that were no longer in arms reach. I had to embrace the fact that I had to put my clothes on a clothes line and I had to wash each dish separately by hand, (whaaaaa??) and showers just weren’t happening.   Of course, I have been completely spoiled my entire life so I was a bit annoyed and frustrated. I wanted to turn on the TV and just chill by watching a rerun of “ Friends” or” How I met your Mother”, but of course we don’t have one just yet. I know, spoiled American right? Very….. A smart phone? Out of the question! I worked in the telecommunications industry for almost 10 years so I always had the latest mobile device and never had to pay for it…. reality check.  We tried to get a phone with TMOBILE…denied! Hello, you are American and just moved to Europe, we don’t trust your credit..fair enough.  We were finally able to get a pay as you go phone..a bar phone with 70 minutes! Aww yeah! !  Top up please! That is something I say quite often! I need to top up our minutes please!

Things started to feel very real in the fact that we packed up our belongings and moved to a completely different country and stepped out of our comfort zone. I never thought my mood was affected by the weather but after a few days of being here, the dreariness of London started to sink in. I noticed the days it rained, I felt depressed and missed my friends and family and the fact that I just couldn’t pick up the phone and call them. I think I cried three days in a row, coincidentally the three days it rained. Ruh oh, I just moved to a city that is known for their rain! It’s been sunny the last few days and I have loved every minute of it! It’s amazing what the sun does to your mood!

We have started attending a church that is within 5 minutes of our flat and we attend the night service because it is more contemporary. It’s quite different than our church in the U.S. We loved Highpoint, and we knew it would be hard to find a church that would compare to the love we have for Highpoint. We have met so many loving friends there and created so many lasting friendships, it was so hard to say goodbye. The church we are visiting has been quite different, but we have met the same type of loving people. Last Sunday we attended church and our cousin Ethan accompanied us. Ethan has graciously been here for us since day one…greeting us at the Airport shoving 5 huge American suitcases in his European car! It was amazing. He has been a huge blessing to us since the day we arrived. Thank you Ethan!! Where was I? Oh…Ethan attended with us and the pastor said “If there is anyone here tonight that you have never seen before, go greet them and maybe even sit with them the rest of the service!” Chris and I noticed everyone was coming straight for us like a herd of cows…we were the newbies to the church. It was funny! Everyone has been really friendly and welcomed us with open arms.

The Hunts have been amazing too. In case some of you don’t know, Chris’s longtime dear friends moved to London as well. They were planning on moving here and we kind of followed with the dream of Seminary. Christopher is British and his entire family lives here so him, Autumn and the kids are here as well. The family is amazing..they have been here for me when I needed a hot shower and was about to have a break down. Amazing friends!  God really knows exactly what we need. I am very extroverted and Chris can be introverted at times. I feel like God has always placed friends in my life everywhere I go and I have such a great support system. I met a sweet lady at church that has taken me under her wing and even prayed for my tube experience when she saw the fear in my eyes of venturing on the tube by myself in the city ha ha! My experience that day was great. This blog is turning into a book! To wrap it up, the past 2 weeks have been challenging, fun, hard, exciting, and adventurous! I am amazed at how much the Brits love their desserts! I am having to watch my sugar intake, before I slip into a sugar coma. I know that God has a purpose for us here, and not just for me to see how many English sweets I can consume in one sitting, right?? Right… I definitely feel my character building as I learn all types of new things. My sense of independence is growing as I learn my way around this city walking everywhere. I am forced to step out of my comfort zone every single second. I don’t have the comfort of my friends or family  near so I am forced to meet new people and reach out in the community.  So you made it this far, you read the entire European experience up until this point. Well there has been more experiences, but I would have to start a novel.  For now, this southern girl is going to take part in “Tea Time”! Cheers!