There are many advantages of living abroad. You meet so many people and learn more about the world than you could in any book or television documentary. The one real disadvantage of living abroad, however, is that you miss special occasions with family and friends at home.
When I’m in the UK, I stay at my parents’ house. We live in Edinburgh but all of our relatives live in other cities: my mother’s family lives an hour away by car, and my father’s family live an hour away by plane. These relatives really don’t live that far away but it’s still not easy to visit them. As a result, family occasions, such as weddings and important birthdays, are big events. They are an opportunity to see relations that I haven’t see for a long time.
Living abroad, though, means that I miss many of these family get-togethers. That includes yesterday, when I missed my mum’s birthday. It wasn’t a big birthday – she didn’t turn 60 or anything like that but it’s still a birthday. Since moving to Colombia I have also missed my dad’s and my sister’s birthdays, as well as Christmas. During all of the time that I have lived abroad, two or three my cousins have married and they even now have children.
These events leave me feeling like I’m missing out – and, really, I am. My mum and dad try to keep me updated but I understand that it can be hard to remember everything. Given that I choose to live abroad, it is really up to me to make the effort to stay updated and to be part of these occasions from far away.
For example, yesterday I sent my mum a present for her birthday. This is difficult, though, as I am often limited to buying presents on the Internet. It can be challenging to know what my mum wants when I am so far from home. When there is a special occasion at home, I try to phone. Thankfully, programmes such as a Skype make these calls cheap and usually quite easy (but last Christmas Day, when all Internet cafés were closed, I did have to make one very expensive call).
I think missing special occasions is the biggest downside to living abroad. It just makes me grateful, however, for the time that I do spend at home.
What do you think are other disadvantages of living abroad? What are the most important special occasions in your family?