The 5 things I thought I’d miss…

When I moved there were certain things I was sure I would miss like Publix supermarkets and my local Chinese restaurant. However there were other things that I’m doing surprisingly well without. The list is divided between things I thought I’d miss before coming here and things I didn’t realize I wouldn’t miss until I got here.

1. Dishwashers

If there’s one chore I hate it’s loading and unloading the dishwasher. There’s just something about it that frustrates the hell out of me. When we first got to Uruguay I realized that dishwashers aren’t as common as they are in the United States. I used to think that if I hated a machine washing my dishes then I couldn’t imagine being happy having to wash dishes by hand. Much to my surprise I actually prefer washing dishes by hand than I ever did using a dishwasher. My dishes are much cleaner, hardly any water spots and dishes get cleaned right away as opposed to piling up in the sink.

2. Big Box supermarkets

Yes there are big box supermarkets in Uruguay, however I don’t like shopping there much. The produce isn’t as fresh as buying from an outside vendor and I get better deals on protein buying it from a butcher. Their “artisanal”breads leave something to be desired so I usually buy it from a bakery. Living in my small town is what I imagine it must have been like pre-1950s in the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Target so much but for every day shopping I prefer buying locally.

3. Fast food

Oh my word, I was a frequent patron of fast food establishments when living in the States. I’m talking about I went to Wendy’s or McDonald’s twice a day. I was worse than an American statistic. I’m not proud of that. When I moved to Uruguay I realized that while yes they have McDonald’s and Burger King it is only in shopping malls or in Montevideo. Meaning, if I wanted to grab some McD’s I would need to travel an hour and a half to get some. Needless to say I have managed to survive without those golden arches.

4. Television

I’m not going to say I don’t watch television anymore because that would be a lie. But when I moved to Uruguay I thought that finding something to watch in English would be next to impossible. Luckily it isn’t as most TV shows aren’t dubbed but subtitled. Not only do I lack time to watch TV but seasons are so off from what’s currently airing in the States that I just don’t bother. I mean, they JUST started airing How I Met Your Mother. I will say though I really miss watching HGTV.

5. The “big” city

Before leaving Miami, I knew we would be moving to a farm. I pictured small towns of twenty people, miles of wheat and red barn houses. I was already missing my suburban life before stepping foot on the plane. After being here for a year and a half and having returned to Miami I can say I wholeheartedly never want to return. I like our town of 6,000+ inhabitants and I like that I can scream as loud as I want and my neighbors can’t hear me. My daughter has 40 acres of land to run around on and plenty of animals to entertain her. There are some aspects of city living I miss like an abundance of ethnic food restaurants and things being open past 6:00pm but overall I’ve fallen in love with small town living.

 

To my fellow expats, is there anything you thought you’d miss that you find yourselves making due without? I’d love to hear about them!

Be on the lookout for my follow up post to this, “The ___ things I didn’t know I’d miss…” coming soon!

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Homesick for something that doesn’t exist.

Homesickness is a feeling I’m all too familiar with. Homesick while in college, homesick when I studied abroad, homesick for college when I moved back home, and now homesick for the United States.

I woke up this morning craving familiarity. I wanted nothing more to look out my window and see Miami sprawled out before me. I wanted to get in my car and head down to 8th street to grab some cheese pastelitos with una colada–cheese pastries and Cuban coffee. It’s not like I even had those things regularly when I lived in Miami, but I always knew that whenever I DID want some I could just get in my car and grab some.

When I went to Miami this past September I expected everything to have stayed the same. But even just pulling out of the airport I realized that everything changed. The streets weren’t the same, traffic lights were replaced, and new buildings that were being erected filled the once familiar skyline. Life kept going even though I wasn’t there anymore. I wanted nothing more than to just turn back the clock and be in my element. But my element no longer exists. My comfort zone has moved on. And here I am stuck somewhere in the middle.

I brought up the topic with my parents this morning over breakfast and I asked them if this feeling was normal. The void I feel in the pit of my stomach. And my dad just looked at me and said, “I’ve been feeling that since before I left Cuba. I don’t think anyone actually feels like they fit anywhere. You just have to make the best of it.” And it struck me. I should’ve known that my dad must have felt like that when he lived in the States. He had it easier than most immigrants because he lived in Miami, the cluster of Cuban culture outside of Cuba itself, and he always seemed to effortlessly navigate his way through Miami. Could be that as a child you don’t really think about those things but I just never really took note of my dads own homesickness.

I don’t think I could ever call Miami “home” again. I think I’ve changed too much to find a place for myself and Miami is growing exponentially. I am so proud of the progress and development taking place there, but it’s just not what I remember. Uruguay is where I need to be right now. I’m still trying to figure out how to make this place home. Less because of the language barrier or the cultural differences, but because I’m slowly realizing that unless I live in the NOW no place will feel like home.

I can’t keep looking at my past craving something that isn’t there, and I can’t look towards the future if I’m too deep in self pity to make the most of it. There are going to be days where yes I’ll still miss my forever home, but I need to make the conscious effort to make Uruguay my home now. Even though it doesn’t feel like home maybe one day it will. And if it doesn’t, then I can only hope that one day I do find a place that feels like home.