The Expat Emotional Roller-coaster

In my 39 years I have never experienced the emotional range as intensely as I have in the last 2 years since our departure from England.  Every feeling from sadness to happiness, dread to anticipation and everything in between crops up on a regular basis.

I remember walking the kids to school with my best friend about a week before we left England and saying to her how I was “done with the last times” and how I wanted to look forward to the “first times”.  Seeing people and doing things for the last time prior to leaving England exhausted me emotionally like I had never experienced.  Watching my granddad walk down my driveway for the last time, the last meal with my sister and my girlfriends, the final day with my parents were obviously terribly sad occasions but at the same time I was looking forward to seeing my new home for the first time and beginning our new life. I was both excited about our arrival in Canada and very upset at our departure from England.

Niagara Falls, Canada

Tower Bridge, London









Expat life brings with it a ride on an emotional roller-coaster and the bizarre thing is that often contrasting emotions come at the same time.  An example of this was the intense excitement I felt a fortnight ago as I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew but before they even arrived I was already dreading them leaving.  The happy times we had together were all too soon followed by a tearful goodbye and now the house which just a short week ago was noisy, excited and crammed full is now quiet, calm and feels too roomy.  I really love where I live but miss my old home, I’m enjoying all the new experiences we have but I crave the familiar too.


Niagara Falls 2013

London Eye 2005









What I have discovered in the last 20 months of being an expat is that expat life is a series of ‘trade offs’, you exchange regular brief visits with longer times together that are far fewer and further between but on the whole much more memorable. I suppose the phrase ‘quality time’ comes into play here.  Learning to cope with the twists and turns, highs and lows is all part of the journey.  I hope that as time passes I become more adept at riding the emotional roller-coaster, accepting the downsides of expat life is the price we have to pay for this lifestyle we have chosen.


“Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it’s one day further from the last time you saw each other, it’s one day closer to the next time you will” – Anonymous


13 thoughts on “The Expat Emotional Roller-coaster

  1. Jill

    In a way it’s a form of grief I feel! When you lose someone forever or for reasons of distance it’s always hard. At least you know this world is here if you needed it again . You will get fed up with all the relatives visiting lol
    Keep smiling Lou xxxx

  2. Zhu

    All I can say is that it gets better. Each family visit (my mom came once, we try to go to France every year or every couple of years) brings a lot of emotions and boy, do we cry! Saying goodbye is the toughest thing I ever have to do. It’s painful and there is nothing I can see to make everyone feel better.


    1. Lou Post author

      That’s reassuring, thanks Zhu, I often wonder if it was something you get learn to deal with in time.

  3. Mama Syder

    Hugs Lou, I’m sure it will get easier. And, although expensive England will always be here if you ever wanted to come back, I guess knowing that would make things a little easier. Once the sun is out over there you will feel so much better. Its been a long winter hasn’t it xxx

    1. Lou Post author

      You are so right and it has been a long winter, it’s hard to be grumpy when the sun’s shinning 🙂

  4. Multi Layer Mummy

    its a hard one for sure, I have many reasons why I could not emigrate that far, I’m finding it hard to even think about selling my house! but it certainly is a beautiful place you’ve found to live and hopefully you’ve found some more good friends there too xx

  5. Emma

    It’s so blinking hard at times isn’t it? Sending you a hug, I am supposed to be going home for a few days soon. I am dreading it because I know how much it will open that missing it wound when I come back… :/

    1. Lou Post author

      You’re not kidding, it sure is tough, i hope you manage to enjoy your visit “home’

  6. Mum

    We’ve been on a similar ride Lou, Miss you dreadfully, but pleased that you followed your dream, even though it was our nightmare. I’ve shed more than a few tears! I know we miss you as much as you miss us, but that was inevitable. I suppose it will be easier to deal with in time. It was a brave decision you made, a huge step you took, but the downside, and there always is a downside, is painful! Love you xx

  7. Charlie Hughes (The Mad Mummy Musings)

    This reminds me of when we lived in Brittany and I fell pregnant after 3 months of living out there with my first daughter. My Mum & I found it so hard to be apart from each other and although people did visit it was never as regularly as hoped and many said they would but never did. We lasted just short of 3 years and came home due to my PND. I think had we gone out now with the girls 2 & 6 maybe we’d have stayed for longer. It’s certainly a journey and one I’m glad I traveled. I came back speaking French pretty well and it made me learn to integrate with a community more and be less insular. It will get easier. I think it’s about relaxing into it and trusting that you are where you need to be right now xx Popping across from #PoCoLo Thanks for visiting The Mad Mummy Musings too xx

  8. Verily Victoria Vocalises

    The quote at the end there gave me goosebumps – its one I shall need to use myself soon. This is such a bittersweet post and must be so lovely but so hard at the same time. There’s me worrying about a move from Berkshire to Somerset! At least I shall only be 2 hours away from my family. Thank you so much for linking up to PoCoLo Lou xx

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