Friday, 15 January 2010

Homeward Bound

Everything has changed now we've made the decision to move back to the UK. Having resisted talking about England as being home, we now talk endlessly about when we go home, being back at home, what it is like at home, what we miss about home. Just making the decision to leave has changed us, from being a part of the country, its cultures and people to being outsiders.

I'm not sure whether it is because of this but suddenly Bosnia is really starting to get on my nerves. Those little niggles of life that irritate are now really winding me up. The on-going bureaucracy and trips to various ministries, handing over the same piece of paper with ever increasing fees is driving us even more demented than usual. I'm sure that the UK has its own labyrinthine bureaucracy for those who aren't UK citizens, but we are so we don't have to experience it. I'm fed up with coming across lost, forlorn stray puppies and dogs all over town. The broken glass in the parks which is just perfect for shredding a dogs paw takes away an awful lot of the enjoyment of going for a walk. The idiots who dump rubbish, car loads of the stuff, in the woods and forests around Tuzla also spoil the afternoon (not to mention the damage that is being done to the environment which will have to be a whole other post). The lack of things to do with children indoors during the winter is stressing me, combined with the fact that the only decent playground in the whole city appears to be permanently shut, and is patrolled by a particularly jobsworth man who won't even let you sneak in to have a swing. Always having to always have large amounts of cash around, because that is usually the only way to pay for anything, whether it be rent, bills, nursery fees, everything is also feeling debilitating, I'd like just to pay by card please. When we arrived we were so positive about Bosnia, so full of enthusiasm for this vibrant country, but suddenly we're feeling ground down by it.

Obviously England is taking on an image of perfection which is going to be cruelly shattered the minute we get back. In the meantime, I am off to try and locate the bits of Bosnia that we love to jolt myself out of this fug of bah humbug and winter blues.


Anonymous said...

Winter blues. Treat yourself to something local you really enjoy. Then have a real go at the Tuzla rubbish dumpers. Then - prepare yourself for your forthcoming return to the land of old mattresses and asbestos (tho maybe IoW is not quite as bad as elsewhere!)

Muddling Along Mummy said...

My expat parents reckon that coming back to live permently at 'home' was one of their less traumatic moves - at least once they got used to the weather and people only coming to visit for a couple of hours

Good luck with the move

Anonymous said...

I do hope England meets all your expectations when you get back, it's a lovely country but the EU are taking over, in my humble opinion!!

CJ xx

Metropolitan Mum said...

Rule, Britannia! ;-) I like living here, even without the UK passport life is fairly easy. Though manners are not very fashionable here at the moment, I am afraid.

TheMadHouse said...

I think that when you know you are leaving, you just want to go. I know when relocated back to the NE I was the same. But I also was homesick for our old home. I couldnt choose just 1 song, so had to do 4!

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Just hold on to thoughts of amazing playgrounds ... that you can play on at any time of the day.

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I love Tuzla. I have lived here for more than 10 years, and do not miss much about the old country as I have substituted old tastes for new. I know full well what to expect here.

Make sure to shut off telephones early if you have post paid mobiles or fixed phone lines in your name. Only the person who opens the account can close it, and it must be done in person.

As a child of expats who have since repatriated, I am keenly aware that home can easily become different places for members of the same family.

Enjoy your trip back to the land of lorreys, lifts, bangers and mash, Royals, scandals, The Sun, and The Manchester Guardian. But, Premiership and Sky are brilliant.

Sarah said...

It's part of the process I think. I had to focus on the parts of life in Thailand that drove me nuts to try and vaccinate myself from missing it from the moment I decided to leave right up until a good couple of months after I got back home.

I suppose I was worried I could be making a mistake by leaving, so any negatives could be chalked up in my "am doing the right thing" pile which I used to smother any doubts that threatened to bubble through. I can't cope with moving AND second guessing myself every ten seconds.

Once I was back for a while and was comfortable in the most part with having made the choice to leave it behind, I could let myself remember it in a more balanced way.


Calif Lorna said...

I agree with Sarah, it's just part of preparing to go home.

You'll remember all the positive things about Bosnia and forget the negatives once you're dealing with the UK.

I was the same once we'd made the decision to move to California. I was annoyed every time it rained!

"Moaning Mum" said...

Ah...likes ships in the night we to the merry Uk and me to the beaches of Goa...

I love the UK despite....well despite everything :)

Liz (LivingwithKids) said...

Ah yes the lure of the other side's grass. I fantasise constantly about moving to NZ or Oz and have had to stop myself from watching 'A New Life Down Under.' UK has lots going for it but last year I would much rather have been somewhere else. Will be wonderful to meet up with you when you're home!

nappy valley girl said...

I think one of the great things about being abroad is that it gives you a new perspective on your home country - you can see more clearly where it scores positives and negatives. I remember coming back to London after a four month spell travelling and thinking 'actually, this really is a nice place to live - and I feel a lot safer here than South America!"

The Woman who Can said...

I think you've got a magnified version of post holiday blues. When you know you've got to come home from holiday, it's all you can think about. But their loss is our gain.
Tina x

Alice said...

I think it is totally normal. You've made your decision and you want to start moving with it so of course, you are focusing on all the things that you miss/love about the UK and that throws up all the things that irritate you about Bosnia. We were the same when we returned last summer and in many ways, being back exceeded our expectations... suddenly we were like 'the weather's not that bad?' 'the people ARE really friendly!' in some ways, coming back with a new attitude opened us up to many things that we love about our home... Of course, there are things that are tough and limit some of our desires and the lure of other countries is always there for us... but really, we are enjoying good old UK and I'm sure that you will enjoy being back too. Nothing need be forever, and if the picture of perfection shatters, then I'm sure you'll do something else!!!! In the meantime, lets meet for a beer in a pub garden this summer ;-)

cartside said...

Sounds like you're good and ready for your return to the UK! I always get annoyed with things in Germany, which seems to show that I really prefer living in Scotland. Although of course it's never entirely black and white.

A Modern Mother said...

YAY!!!!! I missed this ... when are you coming? Can't wait to meet you.

WeDoAdventure said...

Understandable frustrations...but how long til you start pining for the thick smell of cheap cigarette smoke?!

Noble Savage said...

Sarah hit the nail on the head. I think when one is getting ready to leave a place that they have mixed emotions about, it sometimes helps to focus on the negative in preparation for the pain of leaving all of the positive things about life there. That's the beauty and the agony of being an expat...once you've lived outside your homeland you never feel at home. The grass is always greener on the other side is such a truism.

Mon said...

Hi there, just came across your blog from.... somewhere. Caught the title.

We are Brits living just over the border in Montenegro. Been here just over 2 years, even had our baby here.
I've only ever been to Trebinje your way.

We're on the coast and it's beautiful of course.

I understand the things you mention, because it can be similar here.

We've done the mental back and forth several times. On our 3 week trip to UK back in November, I thought that I was going to be won over to return there!
But after the traffic, and no sea, and erm, rude youths, COSTS, and other things.... well, I appreciated here so much more on our return.

We are fortunate here to have a small expat community all in the same town. All around the 40 age mark and most with children. It's made a difference despite that we weren't concerned with being the only ones. But when things get tough, that type of support makes a difference.

Nowhere is perfect, sigh. I mix of England and here would be great. :)

Emm said...

When we decided to come to UK and leave South africa, it was like a light switch had been flipped too. I have a theory that you have to wear blinkers to get by in a place and when you decide to leave, you suddenly give yourself permission to see everything you've been denying for so long. For me, it was the moment when I finally admitted that I had had too many brushes with violent crime, even though that wasn't the reason for us coming here.

Will you start a new blog here? Maybe something along the lines of "Seeing UK with eyes anew after time spent abroad?"

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Owen - think you are right, especially about the rubbish dumpers. I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about them! Sadly IoW is not my home town, just a place to go on holiday.

MAM - The thought of the move is not filling with me with joy. We are not due back until April, so plenty of time to sort it out, but we will obviously do the lot at the last minute!

CJ - Thanks, I know it won't (the sun doesn't shine every day after all). I'm fairly postitive about the EU but we've spent the past few years in Bosnia who are absolutely desperate to be admitted.

MM - You have an EU passport though, which helps. I feel for the Bosnians who need a visa to go anywhere.

MH - I think you are right. Now I just want to get back. I've started talking to all my friends back home and getting excited about seeing them. Thanks for doing the tag!

Laura - I'm so excited about the thought of an English playground, round the corner which doesn't have nails sticking out of the swings and isn't covered in mud. Words can't describe how much I'm looking forward to it. My boys haven't seen a playground now for over a month and it hasn't even been snowing here!

Anon - Thanks for the tips on the phones. I will miss Tuzla, as I do love it really. There are some things I won't miss though and it is those that have been getting on top of me. The British negatives aren't around to annoy me so I can just remember the good things. That said, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to going back to the royals and The Sun, but a good plate of bangers and mash, now you are talking (although after that I'll be pining for some cevapi so there is no end to it!)

Sarah - You are spot on. I wish in many ways that we were moving NOW, so I could just get on with it. But we are not coming back until April so we have a few months of limbo first.

CalifLorna - I'm annoyed with the weather here, but wouldn't swop it for the snow either!

Moaning Mum - we'll meet somewhere! Although the beaches of Goa do sound tempting.

Liz - Would LOVE to! I can't watch those programmes, it makes me too restless. But I know that we are nearing coming back as we were sketching out floor plans of our UK house wondering how we could improve it. With what money I don't know, but it was fun for an evening!

NVG - it is true, you need to get away to really see how great your home country is.

The Woman who Can - Probably!

Alice - Oh, a beer! A pub garden! I've gone all shaky thinking about how lovely that would be.

Cartside - I think so. Not sure whether the decision to come back is driving the readiness, or whether the readiness drove the decision but either way, I'm ready.

MM - Looking forward to meeting you too! Any chance of joining a chefs class in Abingdon?

WDA - Don't. Although i don't notice it any more. Do you?

NS - I know. I know we'll have itchy feet within months of moving back too.

Mon - HI! Hello fellow Balkan blogger. I hear that Montenegro is wonderful. How are you finding the language? How great that you have a small community with kids when you need it. We don't have that here (we don't live in Sarajevo or Mostar though where there are more expats) and I really really miss it. We have wonderful Bosnian friends, but sometimes it is nice to have someone from a similar culture to hang out with.

Emm - I will have to bring this blog to a close - haven't made my mind up whether to start another one or not, but it has been suggested that I write a Brits in Britain blog which I quite like!

Lynn said...

Oh, honey, you're right, the UK is pretty annoying for non-UK citizens! I think anyone living in a foreign land will always say, "But home is better!" That's why it's home, right?

Enjoy your last few moments in Bosnia, and good luck on relocating back home!

Gail said...

It might be a good idea to vent your spleen on some poor unexpecting rubbish dumping person. They might not understand you but it canmake you feel better to at least let it out once every decade. I did it to a plumber in Thailand once. Don't feel proud of myself, but it was definitely a release! A friend of mine recently had a strop in our crappy supermarket, and threw all their barbie dolls on the floor because they did not have a price ticket. Again, I don't think she was proud of herself either, but following this outburst, all the staff in the supermarket has been much nicer to her. It must be a terribly frustrating place to work as well to be honest, I think they feel she shares their pain! ha ha.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Nice playgrounds, indoor and out, erm, marmite, Tetley Teabags, and lots of bloggers you might actually be able to meet in person. Yay.

Seriously though, I think once a decision is made then you become more and more ready for it to happen. I hope the move is soon and is as straight forward as possible. Hugs.

Emm said...

Ha! "Brits in Britain" is good!

Matt Hollingsworth said...

Well, I can relate to this sort of. Croatia is a lot better off than Bosna from what I read, but there's a similar culture (dumping trash in the woods, etc etc etc) here and some of that stuff is truly awful. I spent a good amount of last year missing home (California) and was thinking of going home a lot after 3 years here. But I seem to have gotten through it and settled in a bit better. We'll see how I feel in a year, but anyway, I can relate to how you're feeling. Best of luck with the move.

Iota said...

Funny how an attitude can change. It's not surprising, now you're on the home straight, as it were.

I hope you can, nonetheless, enjoy your remaining time.

I can't remember if you've said where in England you're going to be based.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Lynn - not being a resident is always annoying!

Gail - if I catch them I definitely will. It is such a shame as it spoils what could be such a beautiful area of land. And is symptomatic of how many Bosnians don't care for their country.

Jo - Exactly. Especially the tea bags. And Mango chutney.

Emm - it is the front runner at the moment.

Matt - When we were in Zagreb we couldn't believe how rubbish free Maksimir Park was in comparison to the parks here. Glad you are settling again, I think an expat life works in real cycles.

Iota - Attitudes do change so fast. Now we are calling England home again, everything that annoys me about Bosnia is really really annoying me, but before it didn't bother me that much. England will irritate me in seconds!