Every journey starts with a dream, a fantasy of something better, brighter or happier!
Most dreams liveinside our heads and stay there forever, mostly because we are afraid to take the steps to see what happens if we try and follow those dreams.
For some of us dreams do come true and yes they nearly always turn out very differently from how we imagined. The reality may not be as bright and colourful but when we look back the journey itself always seems so much better than we thought it was at the time.
Here is my story from dream to real life experience.
Since my husband Jacob and I met each other we have always held a dream about how a life outside Denmark could be. All the possibilities - the money, the beautiful house, the car… It was a fairy-tale with a true happy ending and we talked excitedly about Italy, France, America… which country would be the best for us?
Before children came along we started looking for jobs abroad and soon realised that was going to be far more complicated than we first thought and our focus began to slip away.
We bought an apartment and soon after we had our daughter, Emma. She grew and we bought a house. We had our son, moved again and dreams of going abroad were still a dream but in reality we began to think it was never going to happen.
Then, I was very lucky to finally get my dream job in Denmark. In 2008, after years of maternity leave and redundancy I could see a bright, new career path ahead and I was happier than ever before. For the first time in years my life was on track and I felt great. I became very successful very quickly and I could see myself grow. In my world everything was close to perfect – the house, the children – the job!
Then one day in 2011 my husband asked me if he could apply for a job in the UK. As the good wife I said, “Sure, why not!” I didn’t think about the consequences if he got the job because I assumed he wouldn’t get it, but I was wrong, he did!
Suddenly the perspective had changed… completely!
And so many questions…
Would I give up my fantastic job to follow an old dream of working abroad?
Should I leave the second happiest country in the world to start a new life?
How would I pursue my own career ambitions in the UK?
So, not knowing what to expect, I gave up my job and we left on the 1st July 2011, my birthday. My daughter, Emma, was 11 and my son, Magnus, 8.
I was really excited. I knew it was the right thing to do. The kids would learn a new language, a new culture and make new friends and I would get a new job that would bring the success I really desired.
My husband’s job was not one of these re-location arrangements, where everything is laid on with a paid-for house at a posh address, a car and private schools for the kids . We had to do EVERYTHING ourselves. Find the schools, the house, the car, sort out the bank accounts, the tax arrangements – EVERYTHING! As an independent Danish woman, I often thought, “How hard can it be?!”
We arrived on Friday, moved into the house on Sunday and my husband went to work on Monday. Here I was with two kids and 40 boxes with our life inside them.
No phone, no internet, no car (which I couldn’t drive anyway, because the traffic was pretty much upside down) and I didn’t know where in the world I was…in Greenwich off course and I knew about GMT, but what I really cared about was where to buy the milk, butter and bread.
The summer was lovely and the kids and I had a great time. We spent the whole time as tourists in London. Life was okay! Yes, there were days when I felt a bit lost and I spent a lot of time in front of the computer. I was worried for my kids and I was keen for them to make friends but what to do when they land in a foreign country and don’t speak a single word of English? It was also hard for me. My husband left for work at 8am and came back around 7pm and the days were long. London is a huge city and my feeling of loneliness was right there in front of me.
September arrived and we hadn’t received any papers about the school start. It freaked me out because after having the kids at home for more than two months and without making a single friend I thought I was going crazy. As well as all this I still really wanted to find myself a job.
Emma started school in September and in October I was finally able to tell Magnus the good news that he was also going to school.
So here I was in a multi-cultural city of huge potential and endless possibilities, in which being an immigrant was no excuse for being lonely. My kids were settled in school, my husband was at work and here I was in the house alone.
Without knowing it, I started living in my own little lonely world. It might seem strange but being in a city with 11 million people can be very lonely! My life was all about managing the school runs and looking after the home and for the first time I really began to see the challenges in front of me…
Read the next blog post to see what happens next.