Blog of the month - February 2010
To describe myself- I'm an American, born in Chicago, raised in Minneapolis. My family are long-time midwesterners, I love that part of the country. Most people who visit America go to New York, Los Angeles and Florida. The whole middle part isn't explored as much. I think Chicago is one of the great cities of the world and I always talk it up to my European friends.
I started working for American Airlines in the early 80's and it became my career. I met my wife-to be there and we started to travel, as young airline employees do! We worked in Stockholm in the late 80's and I fell in love with that country. We made many friends there, and I think we've visited almost every year since. In the spring of 1999, we moved to London, along with our 7 year-old son. We've lived outside of the city ever since. In some ways, I'm not an ex-pat anymore. We've acquired British citizenship and I'm paid locally these days.
2. We've travelled a great deal in the UK and in Europe the past decade. We've tried to avoid some of the usual 'American' tourist spots and have seen some beautiful places. We loved Corsica and Sardinia, north Wales and Barcelona, Riga and Tallinn, to name a few. I went to both Stockholm and London for my work. My company doesn't have many expats so in many ways I am a bit unusual in that sense. I like working for the airline, even though it's not easy these days to be involved in international travel. But AA has always treated me fairly and given me many opportunities.
3. Eventually, we will move back to the US, probably the Dallas area. All of the career opportunities for me are there, and although emotionally it will be tough to leave my adopted English home, practically, it will be for the best. It is funny in that I have become 'in-between' culturally; my American friends think I'm becoming English and my English friends still treat me like an American. Tom Wolfe called it the "Mid-Atlantic man".
4. But there will always be a spot for us in Europe, as we've built a summer house in Sweden, on one of the islands in the archipelago. I am keeping a blog of the building and living process, huslangford.blogspot.com. We figure that no matter where we might end up over the years, we will have our little island home in one of the places we love.
5. I have enjoyed doing the blog. My family and friends follow it of course, but I am surprised at all of the 'hits' I have had from people all over the world. I have had questions from people in Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic which I have been happy to answer, and it looks like somebody in melbourne follows my blog too! I haven't met anyone from my blog but I do have a sense of having a bit of an 'audience' out there. I think about my blog a lot- I made a decision early on to limit it to just about building and living in the house. I have lots of interests and I feared my blog becoming a scattershot of lots of random things. Focusing on the house gives me discipline and allows more focus. I do stray sometimes, I posted recently about English football, and earlier, Buddy Holly, to some positive feedback, but I'm going to avoid going down that road. I'm not that talented a writer to keep everything interesting. Even my little blog posts take a bit of fussing, I don't just write and hit 'send'. just writing a good paragraph is hard; I have real respect for writers these days. I try to post a couple of times a week; I have a few subjects 'in waiting' in case it's a slow week.
6. The first time I was an expat, in Sweden in 1988, was tough to begin with. I was a typical self-centered American and I learned quickly to adapt. Sweden and the UK are almost harder for expats because it 'looks' like America so it is easy to assume it 'is' like America. The differences are important but more subtle. It took me a while to find and appreciate them.
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