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When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Old Apr 4th 2016, 11:36 pm
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Unhappy When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Roughly two months ago we relocated from Leeds to suburban Michigan, USA for dh's work. He is happy at his job here, and it is a good position, but me and my daughter are not nearly as happy. P is almost 15. She was open to moving but now that she is here asks daily to go back home.

She is a second year/sophomore in high school here. When she started all the girls in her class thought she was Australian (we get that a lot, must be a northern accent thing). When they found out she is English they all asked her whether or not she knows Cara Delevigne or the Queen. She says she feels like a zoo animal and there is nothing to do for fun here. Most of the teenagers here go to the mall or sport for fun. She spends hours on the phone with her friends in Leeds and I'm worried that this is what's stopping her from opening up to making friends at school. Younger daughter on the other hand made up a bunch of nonsense about being related to Kate Middleton and living in a castle, which I found out later and she has since dropped her story. She has adjusted much better and can now imitate a perfect American accent, although apparently everyone at school is jealous of her accent.

As for me, I miss home much more than expected. I imagine if we were somewhere like San Francisco or New York the transition might be easier but so many of the things we love about home is not available here. It's only a 2-3 year position and if it were just me, I would wait it out but I'm concerned about older daughter, I've never seen her this unhappy. I am considering going home at this point, which dh is open to but really enjoys his job

First of all do people mistake your accents for Australian all the time? (Is it just a northerner thing? because I think Australian accents sound more American than English) How long did it take you to adjust and find friends? How long did it take your teenagers to adjust?
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Old Apr 4th 2016, 11:48 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Welcome to BE.

Sorry but I couldn't stop laughing about the story your youngest told her pals.

We lived approx 30 miles from Manhattan...but I was desperately unhappy. We moved over for a year or two...it turned into 18 years. There are a some of us who have found ourselves in a similar position to you. There again there are quite a few who are very happy.

I wish BE had been around in 1996 when we moved...liaising with fellow Brits helps. Just to know that you are not the only one to feel that way helps. Skype, FaceTime, Internet shopping to buy British goodies, U.K. tv programs via the Internet...all helps with homesickness. Again non of this was around when we moved.
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Old Apr 4th 2016, 11:53 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

2 months is very early days (in my opinion).

But i would do everything you can to encourage your daughter (and indeed yourself) to join in ANYTHING as much as possible. even things you are only minorly interested in. The more you join in, the less weird it starts to feel and you are busy and have less time to dwell on what you are missing. Over time as it normalizes you can be more picky and only do the stuff you really love, but by then hopefully you will be more at ease here.


As regards the Aussie thing - I'm a southerner asked at least 1-2 a week if I'm from Australia (and once a month if I'm from south Africa). so its not you lol. Ive now been here since 2007 and i am still treated as special because i'm English. Everywhere I go people comment. I just go with it and talk a lot ( as they LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear it spoken) and everyone is happy. I think it has helped me with my job here because i stand out in a very large department - people know who i am as soon as i open my mouth on a 30 person conference call. They ask me to say things just because it sounds more official with the accent. My kids lost their accent and i meet teachers every year who are gobsmacked the regular kid has a mom from England.

I embrace it - but then again im in my mid 40s and a huge star wars fan/sci fi geek, and embrace the weird lol!
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 12:28 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by elspethUK

First of all do people mistake your accents for Australian all the time? (Is it just a northerner thing? because I think Australian accents sound more American than English) How long did it take you to adjust and find friends? How long did it take your teenagers to adjust?
Could be worse, they could think you're Welsh

Can't help on the teenage front, but stick it out till the summer at the least. Winter, is grim out your way and the blues doesn't help. Once it is nice and you can get out and about, should help and do get involved with the crap at school, it's naff, but expected and a good way to meet people.

School sports, it's big, so really should explore it.

Check out the local library, might be a good spot to find local groups. Meetup.com and FB will probably have local groups, so if you've a hobby, search them out and see if you can get out and about, which should help.

Depending on the visa you're on, if you can't work, perhaps find a volunteer position in town as a way to meet people.

Good luck though and welcome to BE!
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 2:02 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Bob
Could be worse, they could think you're Welsh
Watch it, SpongeBob.
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 2:16 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by tonrob
Watch it, SpongeBob.
Don't you have a sheep to tap, Sprouty
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 2:29 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

This is almost exactly the post I would have posted when I first arrived here. Eldest daughter like yours, was 15 when she came over. We were on an even shorter assignment, 14 months. Everything seem dark at first and we even considered sending our daughter back to stay with friends. Then she made a friend at school and even though that friendship didn't last even a semester, it was the beginning of a new life time. Another friend was made and boy turned up on the scene, suddenly life was good again.

As Bob, said give it until at least mid summer and if things don't seem to be improving then re-consider things. Is it for definite that you are returning to the UK or could this be a permanent assignment? As I said we were meant to be here for 14 months and we just passed the 16 yr mark. If my husband had returned, he would had move to France or lose his job as the plant he came from closed down and the alternative plant closed about a year after we made the decision to stay here.

One thing to consider is university as the systems are very different over here and being non -resident in the UK can make things awkward when applying as she will not have the traditional exams to present. Look at the going back home section on this forum regarding this as you will need to know your facts or you will face international fees even though you should not on a temporary visa.

I am sure PF will be along to give advice as she has recent experience of transplanting 2 teenagers and a younger child over here. If your kids can survive this experience, they will be well equipped to handle most things that life throws in life.
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 2:32 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Yeah, I get Australian about half the time, and I'm from Hertfordshire. I just tell 'em that 'all you Canadians sound the same to me too', which gets a laugh and diffuses any awkwardness.

Teens are hard to move. We've recently moved from AZ to OH due to a layoff/ new job. I have a 16 yr old son, and a 12 yr old daughter; my son is taking it fine, but he makes a deliberate personality choice to be individual in a kind of supercilious, 16-going-on-35-and-so-much-more-sophisticated-than-you fashion, which he magically seems to pull off.

My 12 is finding it much harder this time than when we moved to AZ when she was 8. I've had to explain that what she's feeling is grief, and loss, and that it's natural, and that yes, it will pass, but in my experience it'll be some time. We've moved a lot, both in the UK and across countries, and I typically find it takes 12-18 months for it to feel comfortable. It's like I need it to tick around the annual cycle of events and holidays, to get back to 'oh, it's Halloween again - that's right, the neighborhood goes crazy for this holiday, and everyone comes out on their front drives and hands out candy and has cookouts and drinks beer, I remember this from last year' (looking forward to October already...).

She too is in touch with her best friend from AZ via Skype and so on, and I'm not sure it's actually helpful in the long run. She's settling in well, school is nice, getting some local friends and so on, but the timing has been difficult - we arrived just as winter was starting, so everyone has been hibernating for 4-5 months; I imagine your neighborhood is much the same. Her best friend in AZ lived around the corner and they were in and out of each other's houses all day - I'm hoping that now that spring is starting, she'll be able to be outside more and make more local connections, hang at the park, etc (at least, I was hoping this before she broke her ankle 2 weeks ago and can now barely leave the house again...).

So yeah, tough time of year, you're still very early into the move... The best I can offer (you're probably doing this already) is to validate your daughter's emotions, that it DOES suck at times and it IS hard, but that sometimes adult life takes an unexpected turn and you end up in one of those 'can't choose what happens, can only choose how you respond to it' situations.

Experience helps - I'm at my 6 months into the move low point, we've just had winter, the novelty's worn off but this doesn't feel like home yet... But I know from the past that it WILL, in time. Have you moved much before, in the UK?

What's the game plan for your daughter's education, if you're here for 2-3 years? 17-18 is quite the hardest time to return a teen to the UK. I assume you're planning for her to finish high school here?
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 2:51 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

I am northern and yes Americans often think I am Australian. That was before I lived in Australia too (some say that I have picked up the Australian accent).

I don't think there really is a formula or pattern to when things get easier. When I first moved overseas to Bermuda, I was pretty content for the first six months because I was in a honeymoon period, then extreme unhappiness set in and did not leave until the day I left that island for good. With Australia, I felt like a fish out of water when I arrived and didn't know what I was doing there but then three weeks in something clicked and it was all good from then.

Amyway two months is very early days, I would not have given up on either after that length of time. It can be helpful to have an agreed minimum time frame up front, sort of a get out clause in case somebody is feeling unsettled or homesick, just having it the helps even if never needed. We said two years for Bermuda and four years until citizenship for Australia. Maybe discuss and agree something sensible with husband and then share that decision with the elder daughter, perhaps something like the end of the year would make sense at this point.
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 3:25 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Cultural Adjustment

Are you near Ann Arbor? Plenty of Brits at UoM. Nothing wrong with being an Aussie
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 3:54 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Sorry to hear about your problems, and those of your daughter. I don't have a huge amount to add though I personally doubt that it would have been easier in New York. I went there first and was desperately unhappy, even though it was me that had the job and my wife (USC) was looking for work and never found a permanent job. It's a big ugly place, too busy, too crowded, and too dämned expensive.

It seems to me that you're going to have to work on your older daughter to help her integrate, as she doesn't sound like she'll do it on her own. Of course 15 is a difficult age anyway, then throw an international move into the mix only makes things worse. I guess that her view of accents is a problem too, and mostly Americans seem to find British accents appealing, so while I know some people don't like the attention, as a teenager having an accent which Americans find attractive should give her a competitive advantage ... or is that just making other girls catty?

I have never been concerned about Americans commenting on my accent, which still happens pretty much every week at least once, and as often as three times a day, even though I have been here over 14 years, but then (i) it is rare that anyone asks if I am Australian, and (ii) I experienced various comments and jibes about my accent ever since I left Sheffield when I was eight (my accent doesn't seem to have changed since then). It was a refreshing change to have people, mostly women , tell me they lurve my accent, because it seemed to have the opposite effect in London.

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Old Apr 5th 2016, 3:57 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

What's with the australian thing? Nobody thinks I'm Australian. Queen's english obviously....

Kodokan and I were on another thread and talking about our youngest kids adopting American accents practically as soon as they landed.

It is hard work transplanting teenagers. My eldest really, really wanted to study at university here so she was easy peasy. My son was 14 and whilst he is happy here, he has absolutely no wish to stay so he's going to Europe for university in 15 months. he has made friends but almost all of them are 1st generation immigrants like him. I think that is part of the key - find kids like them so they don't feel so strange. Join a Brit group and take the kids along for get togethers, find other foreigners.

Littlest has struggled the most. She's now 13 and most days wants to go back to France (she was born and raised there). She misses her french friends and speaks to them most weekends via skype and she's going back to spend time with them in the summer. We also enrolled her in a saturday morning french school - for native french speakers so that her french isn't neglected.

Lots and lots of reassurance and according to the theory, a trip back home at about 6 months and not before. It gives you something to look forward to but gives you some time to settle here.

For you.... volunteer at the kids' school? join a walking group? plan weekends away? This counsellor was recommended to me : Successful Transitions - a professional coaching and consulting practice specializing in relocation and life transitions.

she has a workbook which I've ordered to take a look at. Note that someone like this might well be covered by your health insurance so you'd probably pay about $20 co-pay.

Keep coming back to BE and reading some of the nutty posts. They'll make you laugh!
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 4:08 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise
What's with the australian thing? Nobody thinks I'm Australian. ....
Beats me, I don't get that even once a year on average, .... maybe once every two years.

Given that I get asked about my accent 50-100 times a year, I am falsely accused of being Australian a tiny percentage of the time.
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 4:13 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Pulaski
Beats me, I don't get that even once a year on average, .... maybe once every two years.

Given that I get asked about my accent 50-100 times a year, I am falsely accused of being Australian a tiny percentage of the time.
Well I have never lived there so not coming across huge numbers of Americans. But of those that I do meet on holiday and whatnot, I would say 50% or so ask if I am Australian. I have always thought it is because they expect everyone to speak like the queen and if not they must be Aussie.
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Old Apr 5th 2016, 4:21 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Bermudashorts
.... I have always thought it is because they expect everyone to speak like the queen and if not they must be Aussie.
There may be some truth in that because I am very particular about my diction, grammar, and syntax, .... I just have a Sheffield accent.
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