I’ve moved to another country a few times so it shouldn’t be anything new but this time it’s a really big thing – I’ve just moved back to Estonia after being away for over 16 years! So, how did I get to this point? Let’s go back to 2002…
After two years of studying I took a year off and worked in a hotel in Droitwich Spa in England. When I graduated from college a year later I moved to Killarney in Ireland, which turned out to be a seven-year long stretch, followed by over eight years in London, back in England. The biggest change was relocating to London. I grew up and studied in small towns and Killarney was another one where I led a quiet life, maybe even boring, and once I got a taste of London I was in love. Well, you can actually have a love and hate relationship with this exuberant, busy, noisy city but no one can deny, it grows on you. It’s fast paced (literally, I speed walk everywhere), cosmopolitan, charming, magical… I could go on.
But one of the world’s busiest cities can be tough going for an introvert. You spend a considerate amount of time squeezed together with strangers during your commute, blocking out the constant noise of sirens and car horns, trying to stay calm while manoeuvring past hordes of clueless tourists that stop in the middle of the street and look lost (that happened to me a lot!), and so on… It took me a year to get accustomed to the hustle and bustle. I used to go straight home after work because I just didn’t have any energy left – I needed the comforts of home, silence and to be on my own OR I’d head out to a local pub. For me, the pub culture really made sense as a lifestyle in London. In Ireland it was a night out and partying if I were in a pub but in London I started going there just to meet friends, socialise and even join in on pub quizzes. And our daughter has been in those same pubs since her birth! No one will look twice if you bring a baby to a pub, unlike here in Estonia – it’s not a done thing.
There is so much in London that outweighs any negatives that you may experience. The variety of cuisines, the ease of shopping, gorgeous parks dotted around the city, beautiful architecture, captivating history… I could go on. Also, London was where I really matured and grew up. I got married and had a child, gained valuable work experience and career advice, and grew a very thick skin. I believe this is what everyone calls the “London experience”.
So if most of the things about London were so positive for me why the move? Before having a child I never considered moving back to Estonia, it was never really a feasible option anymore and going there once or twice a year was enough. But since having our daughter more than two years ago I really miss having family close by. We have obviously made it work, I’ve built my support network and made some really good friends although I still admit it was hard work – I’ve written about how making mum friends here didn’t come easy to me – read it here. With family and relatives though it isn’t or shouldn’t be such hard work. With them you can kind of land on their doorstep without elaborate play-date arrangements. I also want her to experience growing up with her cousins because they are your best friends for life. I want her to get a taste of my innocent childhood of playing in the snow, making snow angels, climbing trees, swimming in the sea without at least a two hour ride beforehand (it takes an hour of driving to just get out of London!), foraging for mushrooms… real simple pleasures in life that can sometimes be hard to find in London.
There you have it, we’ve chosen a simpler life for her but we will always have a way back as we’ve kept the London apartment. We’re planning to stay for 3-5 years and before she starts school somewhere we’ve got the luxury to move around a bit. I’m also excited she will be able to learn Estonian properly. I do speak to her in my mother tongue most of the time but she seems to be picking up English only bar a few words she prefers to say in Estonian.
I hope we’ve made a good decision! Stay tuned and read about our adventures in Estonia. Oh, I just thought, I should really change the name of my blog now! 😮