Living Abroad in 2012 – What I Miss About The UK

In 2011 I started a new chapter in my life story, one that's turning out to be a fantastic experience. I'm living in a new city, exploring one of the most fascinating regions in the world, finally getting to grips with a language other than English, and learning something new every single day.

But all that doesn't stop me from missing the UK, especially over the last year.

Being British Abroad in 2012

First came the wedding of our future King. Then the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Then a Tour De France victory. Then the small matter of the Olympic Games. There's no doubt about it – 2012 was one hell of a year to be British!

But how was it for a Brit abroad?

Watching it all from abroad, I've experienced a wide range of emotions. From a fierce pride at the Queen's Jubilee, to a strange sentimental sense of loss as the Olympic flame passed within metres of my former home in Birmingham. Perhaps it was the realisation that I missed a once in a lifetime event in my home country, the realisation that I really have left the UK, or a realisation that everyone's life, including mine, is written in chapters.

Things I miss about the UK

1 – My friends
My friends will always be my friends, but it's fair to say I'm losing touch with some of them. It's not individuals I miss, but that feeling of extended family. I was a social creature in Birmingham for 11 years, forming a football club, starting a club night, standing for the City Council, and a whole lot more. That meant whatever I was doing, wherever I was, I knew someone. Of course I've made friends in Norway, but it'll take years to create a similar “family” of friends. Which brings me nicely onto…

2 – My family
Since moving away there's been a birth and a death in my immediate family. Both of these events made me question my decision to move away. But I wasn't the only one – other family members travelled to the funeral of my grandmother from Singapore, Kenya and France – something which helped lessen the strange feeling of guilt. But even so, this is the most difficult part about being an expat.

3 – The pub culture
The ability to wander into the Victoria, the Lord Clifden, the Fighting Cocks or the Village and there be a strong chance I'd know someone is a hard habit to shake. The concept of a “local” doesn't really exist outside of the UK. In Oslo, people have their regular haunts of course, but they tend to be in the city centre, away from where they live.

4 – A decent curry
I don't care what you think – you cannot get a decent curry in Oslo. Sure, Grønland offers some good value places to get your fix, but it's not on a par with Birmingham, home of the balti! I've even started cooking my own. I make a mean chick pea and potato curry, thanks to a lesson from Simarjeet when she visited last year!

5 – The choice of food in supermarkets
So many people moan about Tescos and their enormous out-of-town mahoosivemegastores. But take them away and my god, you'll miss them. Norwegian supermarkets, or corner shops as I prefer to call them, are poky little places. There isn't a great deal of choice when it comes to food due to tight import regulations, especially on meat and dairy products. When I was back in the UK at Christmas, I went to Asda with my mum and was actually sending photos of the sheer variety of CHEESE available to Norwegian friends… funny what moving away does to you.

If you're an expat – what do you miss about home?

Photo credit: Michal Osmenda

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.

9 Comments

  1. Funny – I’m seeing a lot of similar posts about this very topic lately. Perhaps the holidays have made us all nostalgic.

    My list is fairly similar to yours – I mostly miss the ease and comfort I have at home. I know exactly where to find everything I need, I know what it’ll cost, and I know how to go about getting it. It’s the little things that take so much work when living abroad!

  2. I am an American living in Australia (while my husband attends post graduate law school), and I miss pretty much everything about my own country. I miss seasons, such as fall and winter, and trivial things like wearing a sweater and a scarf. I miss food that tastes good when you eat it, such as grain-fed beef that is juicy, tender, and marbled, and dairy products such as milk and sour cream that aren’t yellow in colour. I miss interacting with people who love to laugh and who appreciate an acerbic, witty, and often dry sense of humour. I miss being able to purchase something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. (e.g. Pop-Tarts Toaster Pastries are $1.99/box in the U.S. and $9.95/box in Australia, so I am profoundly grateful that I don’t like Pop-Tarts). And I miss a sense of decorum. Certainly, if I were to frequent a strip club, I might expect a full, unforgiving view of a lady’s naughty bits, but at my childrens’ school ? I am no prude ( having been a child of the 70’s, I daresay that I have seen it all–usually with copious amounts of hair on it ), but I am unprepared to see the equivalent of pasties and a g-string at 7:30 every morning (and that’s just the teachers–you should see what the mums wear). Thanks for letting me vent. I feel a bit better now.

  3. Well, i’m an expat American living in London for nearly 30 years and i STILL miss New York pizza! If i wasn’t living in London i’d probably miss ALL of Waitrose! Its all swings & roundabouts. But i do know what you mean about Norwegian shops….

  4. I’m rather surprised what you said about cheese. Most things foodwise I can get in Bristol but not nice hard cheeses. I do miss Swedish hard cheese. All things here are just cheddar!

    It is weird to move away. I’ve been living abroad for tvelwe years now and I still miss my friends who I don’t see that much. But you also loose touch with what goes on. I have no clue what is on the agenda in Sweden. It has somehow become unimportant. I still vote but don’t know what’s goes on. It’s probably a sign I’m quite integrated here.

  5. So glad to have found your blog! It’s so amazing! I often dream of traveling and living some place totally different (like Norway!) but you’ve shown me that there are many things to be thankful for in my home. That said, I love hearing about your adventures and seeing your photos! What a chance of a lifetime!

  6. Unfortunately, there are some things we just have to give up when we travel. Some of them you listed, but there are inevitably more little things. I find it is the little conveniences that I miss most. Although, I can certainly sympathize with your missing of curry. I am a curry addict! 🙂 Cheers to your many successes, hope this year is bright for you!

  7. I am a Canadian living in Germany and I miss mostly two things:
    1) Winter, shoveling the driveway, playing hockey with whoever’s there at the local rink. Temperature that would give people something to complain about.
    2) Ale or other tasty varieties of beer. The German are very proud of their beer and most people are very enthousiastic about it, but I find German beer culture a bit boring. I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous lager, so there are basically only wheat and dark beer left for me. They are good, but to me, there is more to beer than that.

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