Thursday, March 19, 2009

A week in the UK

This week husband had to go to the UK for a week of work. Me being his loyal wife insisted he needed someone to iron his shirts/wake him up/provide daily foot massages whilst in the hotel. Just in case the hotel didn’t provide any of these services.

Husband’s office is in Reading which is about a 40 minute train ride from London. I love going back because I get to stock up on food that I can’t buy easily in Florence like curry pastes and good porridge. Even my English doctor gave me a request for some Horlics (some strange malt drink that I’d never heard of). Every time we come to the UK, I promise husband I’ll buy just a couple of things but in the end my suitcase looks like we are going back to a country that clearly has just had a war and is not stocking food on shelves anytime soon. If the plane coming home crashes aka Lost style, I will be an instant millionaire selling food on the island.

I know it is a sin to say this, but I don’t like Italian coffee. It’s too strong even when I ask them to make it weak. And here’s another confession: Hi my name is Monika and I’m an alcoholic...um I mean a STARBUCKS-aholic. I love the milky flavoured coffee topped with cream. And I love that I can ask for a skinny de-caff weak latte with extra chocolate on top without hearing a mamma mia under the barista’s breath.

Whilst I was sitting at my favourite Starbucks (there are four within a block of each other in the centre, who says they are taking over the world?), I saw a group of young girls giggling over their coffees. I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I remembered to just over a year ago when I had first arrived in Reading. I flew in on a Monday and husband left for a work trip to the US the very next day. I remember I sat at that very Starbucks every day to have my breakfast and felt the loneliest I had ever felt in my life. I didn’t know anyone, my husband was away constantly and the days were so slow. Then once I got used to Reading, four months later I had to do it all over again in a new city and country – Florence, Italy.

I also remember that one of the reasons I felt so lonely was that I couldn’t tell anyone (apart from a couple of my close friends, you know who you are) how I was feeling. I tried, but was soon met with the usual responses ‘what are you complaining about? You live in Europe, I would love to go to Europe, you don’t have to work, you have a perfect life’. Sheesh these people probably also think I wake up in the morning with perfectly styled hair and a flawless face of make-up...

The truth of the matter is, I don’t blame people for thinking it’s a perfect life because until you’ve made such a big change in your life, you really don’t know what culture shock is and how much adjusting you need to do. I certainly didn’t think that I, a strong woman and extremely extroverted, would feel lonely.

And that is not to say that we were ungrateful for the opportunity we were given (we thank God every day for what we have) but it still can be a hard time in your life. Yes, you can visit Buckingham Palace or go see the Statue of David but those things were not important to me. My friends and family is what I missed. I would rather have had a good coffee with a friend anyday. Preferrably at Starbucks, but I would have taken whatever was going.

Now our time overseas is drawing to an end and we should be back home in Australia by mid- year. This experience has been the best thing that has ever happened to us. We have seen more countries than I thought I would see in a lifetime. We have made lots of friends and acquaintances and a couple of close friends that will be dear to us for a very long time. Jason has enjoyed his work so much albeit being a lot of hard work. I have had a chance to catch up with my family who live scattered throughout Europe. We could not have hoped for a better time in our lives.

9 comments:

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

Are you going back for good? I wonder if, after a while, you will miss Europe too.

Simone said...

Don't worry honey, i totally relate! And I have some fabulous coffee places to take you when get back to Perth - I am sure they can accomodate a weak skinny latte! So looking forward to having you back here!

Leanne in Italy said...

I imagine it would have been really hard for you over this side of the world since at least your husband had work which makes it easier to make friends etc...
I hope you still blog when you leave Italy!

erin :: the olive notes said...

I'm glad you had a good time gathering food in UK! :) I can't believe how fast the time is approaching when you'll be going back to AU. So glad you've had a great time in Europe though...and that you moved to Florence (b/c we wouldn't have met otherwise) ;)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Monika....I cannot believe it...he is in Reading!!!! That is just about 20 miles from my place!!!!

Where are you? Are you in the UK or in Italy still??

And where is my husband??? He is in Australia..flew to Melbourne on Sunday til next Monday!!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

If only we had known or met through blogging before...or if I had known you were in Reading before...i could of taken you around Oxford aswell...Lovely coffee shops here too..but we prefer Caffe Nero's...We have Chocolate Milano...such a treat!

Have sent you and email.

Gina said...

Mon,I remember clearly those first few weeks in Reading and then again the hotel in Florence and then all the stress u endured trying to find an apartment! U are truly a strong woman and I know I probably wouldn't of lasted two weeks without falling apart. Now I think back my only response to u was "come home" which probably didn't help much! Can't wait to have u back home, the profits at gloria jeans have been suffering since u left xxx Gines

Sue said...

Great post Monika, but a foot rub? Seriously? I think not...

Sue said...

Happy Easter Monika!