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When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Old Apr 7th 2016, 12:13 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

My first post on BE was along the lines of 'when does it get easier?' It never did for me (in LA), but maybe after a year for most people.

One English friend in LA has been there over 25 years but commented that she's still seen as a 'performing monkey' 😄

That's quite an awkward age for your daughter to adapt to the new system and social set-up, just for a couple of years. Then again with a fixed term it makes it easier to just look on the experience as something that will make her stand out from the crowd on returning.
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Old Apr 7th 2016, 12:25 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

How long have you been in LA? Sorry to hear that you've had a rough experience.
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Old Apr 7th 2016, 12:36 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by andy1138
How long have you been in LA? Sorry to hear that you've had a rough experience.
Oh hi, thanks. We were there for nine years but moved back to England 18 months ago. However my son (23) stayed there and my daughter (19) is studying in England but intending to return to the US afterwards. So I'd say an additional thing for Elspeth to consider is how she'll feel if her children do take to it and want to stay.

Last edited by Sally Redux; Apr 7th 2016 at 12:38 am.
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Old Apr 7th 2016, 2:26 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

My dear, it will get easier, all of your emotions and feelings are very normal considering you have only been here for eight weeks, that is nothing more than extended holiday.

Like all states , Michigan is a very beautiful place in its own way, there is a lot more worse places to live in America than the beautiful midwest, but we don't live in a perfect world.

After just two months it sounds like you are typically home sick, and you have not crossed the mountain yet to the other side. It also sounds like you are here just because of your husband's job which makes it very difficult transition VS The family wanting to be part of American life first.

Give this more time, wean the daughter off of England and friends if possible slightly, otherwise this will always be a hostile event living here un synchronised to American life.

It's very normal in humanity to not make friends easily when there is one of you and thousands of them , most of us have all joined a new school and found ourselves to be the new one in the class, it's no different, it's just a human defence mechanism .

Don't worry about the questions from other kids, it's natural and they are just trying to be friendly....Australian television used to be big in the United States and everybody used to think I was an Aussie even though I'm from south west England. When these questions pop up, ask her to smile gracefully and say oh no I'm British, but I hear Australia is very beautiful.

Good luck with this transition my dears, and you never know what you might be saying in three years, when it's time to leave and go back to the homeland.

One last piece of advice I can offer you , is for the fastest and smoothest transition in any culture wherever you go, adopt the old mentality: When in Rome, do you what the Romans do! 😊

Last edited by Chapdawg; Apr 7th 2016 at 2:59 am.
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Old Apr 7th 2016, 12:00 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

I agree with what others have said...homesickness/feeling down in the dumps is very common after a few months. We moved in June and it started for me in October.

As we only came here for a year or two...we kept our house in the UK. I went back to the UK several times per year for the first 3/4 years. The first two years we lived in a rented apartment...which I found very hard. Once we moved into a house of our own I started to feel a little better. I also stopped visiting the UK and sold our house. In fact I didn't visit for approx 6 years. I feel this did help a lot but I was still homesick.

British goods, TV programs, video calls home etc being more readily did help me feel a little better.
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Old Apr 7th 2016, 12:34 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Bermudashorts
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.
That makes sense. They don't have a clue except you are most likely either British or Australian so they pick one
And are right 50% of the time.
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Old Apr 8th 2016, 6:51 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by elspethUK
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).
She says she feels like a zoo animal

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)
When I moved from England to California ( more below in a min ), if people didn't constantly comment about my British accent, they'd ask whether I was from South Africa or Australia......

Originally Posted by Marc_ely
Australian... yes, all the time. I think Americans don't often have a very good ear for accents
Well, I'll second that because...

I'm a Yank!
Moved back here after living in England for 11 years.

So I wouldn't let the accent business bug you - though in your case - the continual comments about it do serve to further other-ise you / turn you into aliens.

I'm sorry your older daughter is having such a difficult time. Hope you and the rest of your family can manage to feel comfortable enough to at least give your 'transplant' a bit more time.

It sounds as though moving back might not go down quite so well with your younger daughter - or even with your husband, given that he's enjoying his work here.
Awful dilemma...
The truth is - for some the chemistry of the move will remain just plain wrong.
Weirdly - in my case - it was the opposite. Am back here (at least for now), in 'my country' - but would so much have preferred to have remained there. And now that I think about it...I wonder whether that accent business has something to do with integration. Not for everyone. I think many BE expats are quite content/happy here - and yet have retained their native accents (British accents is a forum subject which comes up a lot).

Finally - I hope you'll work your way through this plight and come to a resolution which will work well for all 4 of you.
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 12:40 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Yes people think I'm Australian all the time. My wife is German and everyone asks if she's South African (apart from one person who asked if she were Middlesborough, weird I know). It's tough for teenagers but eventually they'll have made their own friends, they'll develop an American accent and they'll fit right in. In fact they'll likely be more popular and even a little exotic. In a few months you'll wonder why you ever worried about it and when it's time to go home you'll be wanting to stay.

Just keep them, and yourself, busy. Treat it like an extended holiday. Go places. If you need a fix of Britishness I found that BBC America works wonders but it helped us most when we got involved locally with the school and sports. America really is a great place. It'll take adjusting to but your kids will be so much richer for the experience.

Hang in there, it'll work out
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 12:57 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

BBC America is God awful

Basically, endless episodes of either Star Trek, which were always on BBC 2 on Sundays in the 90s from what I remember, or the Matrix over and over. I was just looking now and they have a few re-runs of Top Gear when Clarkson was on it but only after about 10 million episodes of Star Trek. No idea how they make money from it, if you were a homesick Brit you'd get more enjoyment from PBS which actually shows British things, like Downton Abbey
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 10:28 am
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Be VERY careful on University and think ahead - we moved back after 4 1/2 unhappy years with a son going into Year 9. At the same time, I started a Postgraduate degree and was shocked to find that for the duration of the degree, I will be classified as a non-UK/non-EU student as we have not been in the UK/EU continuously for the past 3 years. My fees have gone from £1500/year to £12,500. And there has been a (Tory) suggestion that all "foreigners" should need a 5-year qualifying period. Gulp.

So, my son will be OK, but only just. And no-one told us that - found out by accident.

We were in the Bay Area which I hated with a passion. First 2 years, I tried to make the best of it, but the work atmosphere, the lack of any social life, the awful media and unfair/useless/expensive healthcare plus the fact that even the "progressives" I came across were slightly right of Maggie compared to me and I felt totally isolated and living to a different set of values.

I left feeling very cross, very upset, felt conned by the American marketing machine and that I had wasted nearly 5 years of my life. I'm starting to calm down - I have a good job and the right (not being on an L1) to look for another one; my wife is an individual again rather than tied to my "status;" being a Labour party and proud Trade Union member and an atheist are no longer dirty secrets !

For me, it didn't get easier. I tried to make it easier, but I just found I was grating and arguing with everything and everyone. Eventually, I realised that conformisim is much more important in the US than it is at least in the area I live in (London/Brighton).

I hope it works out however you want it to work out.
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 3:37 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

To the OP, I will tell you that for the first few months when I came here in 1978, I wondered if I had the right decision, after being all for it before getting here. My kids were very happy, being the center of attention in a new school, and a year younger than everyone else. In fact, my eldest daughter still stays in touch with one of her friends from back then. Seeing them so happy spilled over to me, and I have not looked back.

With regards to schools, my daughters have been to school in at least 2 different states, and it did not appear to affect them too much. They, and their brother, are all professionals in their fields, and enjoy life here. I will say that it does get easier as time goes on; you have to be patient. All the best to you.
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by elspethUK
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?
I am sure you and your husband talked through this whole life changing opportunity many times before you decided to accept the challenge. Did you include your daughter in the conversations? If you did, how did she react to the decision initially?

2-3 years is not a longtime, it may seem forever for a teenager but try and convince her to gain as much experience and adventure out of this opportunity. Getting involved in outside school activities may help. Is there somewhere she can volunteer, maybe you can as well, just so you can both be more involved in the area.

It is tough when someone is unhappy but when a situation cannot be changed or if it is changed will still make someone uneasy or unhappy then life is difficult. Been there and done that as have many of us on here.

Maybe set a date, perhaps 6 months from now to reassess how she feels but tell her you will only do this if she makes an effort to try and enjoy her new life and not keep talking about returning. It may help.

Also remember, all our situations are different. So reading the replies on here might not help too much because there are the happy expats and the unhappy expats and we all have our own stories

As for the Australian thing, we still get it after 27 years and my darling husband has had one lady convinced he is from New Zealand for years.He gave up on correcting her when she asked questions about Australia he finally jokingly said he wasn't Australian but was from New Zealand...she believed him
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Old Apr 9th 2016, 7:02 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Another suggestion (if you are comfortable with it) as your daughter is almost 15 she is old enough to start drivers Ed... Something she can't do in England
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Old Apr 10th 2016, 1:13 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Sugarmooma
..... Maybe set a date, perhaps 6 months from now to reassess how she feels ....
Isn't that just setting up a future problem? It surely would only reinforce the daughter's belief that she has some control over her parents and that six months later she might get her way.
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Old Apr 10th 2016, 2:50 pm
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Default Re: When does it get easier? Unhappy in Michigan.

Originally Posted by Pulaski
Isn't that just setting up a future problem? It surely would only reinforce the daughter's belief that she has some control over her parents and that six months later she might get her way.
Well seeing as you only quoted half of my sentence it sounds like it!

And no, it is still allowing the daughter to know her parents are taking her problem settling in seriously but she also knows they want her to make an effort (which is what I said)

Ignoring or belittling her emotions would be wrong. Working with her and setting goals will allow her to understand that she is important in the family's decisions.

There is no doubt that teenagers can be difficult and sometimes use their unhappiness to try and manipulate the whole family's lives. And parents have to know how to react. A firm "NO you are just going to stay, get used to it"usually makes the situation worse. So discussing, setting goals and finding outlets to help all involved is usually a good start.


I'm sure when little Miss P reaches the teenage years you will find life can get challenging
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