Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ever woken up one day and felt the need to pack all your belongings and just go?

Of course you have, we all have. Most of the time, we suppress these feelings and carry on with our lives. It was last year when I last had this urge. Although I've had these feelings many times in the past, this was different, I had an overwhelming compulsion to just get up and go. So that's exactly what I did.
Its reported daily in the news about the mass immigration that's happened in Britain, but emigration is rarely spoken about, but its on the rise. A little over a year ago I clutched my one way plane ticket to Prague. Ever since, practically on a daily basis I am asked why I decided to move here. The problem is, I don't really have an answer.
But what I do know is that I wasn't enjoying life back in Britain. As the recession took hold in Britain things just seemed to get worse. I was made redundant from a job I enjoyed, and to add to the insult, it took 6 whole long months to find another job. I'd had several jobs since then too but nothing worked out, I wasn't happy. Also, I was living near my mother who had moved there 2 years before me. She loved it but I was in no way convinced. It was a very pretty but strange town, about 40 minutes drive from Manchester, with rolling green fields, and It was difficult to make friends. Most people in the town had lived there all their lives and their friends were all from childhood, I had literally nothing in common with them. I made a remark one day to an old friend, which is when it all clicked into place, I felt like a foreigner. Rather odd considering I am British but nevertheless, that is exactly how felt.
I got talking to another old friend with whom I hadn't been in contact with for 10 years. We shared similar views and got on rather well, in fact much better than we had 10 years previously! The most important view we shared is that we felt we needed to get away. In the following months we spoke endlessly about moving away, what we could do, all fantasies really. But then one day, something changed. It had occurred to me that this could be more than just a fantasy, I could make it reality. After all, I had nothing to stop me and no responsibilities. So one night, it was decided. We moved to Prague a week later. The next day I handed my notice in at work, and my boss was surprised. "Have you got a job to go to or a place to stay"? "No"! But nothing could change my mind, I had booked the ticket the moment I decided so that I wouldn't do just that!
The next week was spent going through my belongings and throwing away or selling everything I couldn't take. As time flew I soon found myself on that plane, landing in Prague. It was a pleasant early September evening. We got the bus into the city centre and decided to go and find a hostel to stay in for the night. We would find somewhere to live the next day. Well that was the plan anyways, but shortly after the hostel idea was scrapped and a very kind person offered us lodgings for the night.  The next day we found a flat and several weeks later we had jobs. And I can say for sure, making that move was the best decision I ever made.
So, over a year later, my life had drastically changed, and for the better. I still feel like a foreigner, but the difference now is that I actually am one! I have ultimately matched my internal feelings with my external surroundings. But I have a job I love (if sometimes stressful!), a string of friends from many different countries and I lead a much more fulfilling life.
The strangest thing is going back to England to visit my family. Even though I go for only a few days at a time, it makes me extremely anxious and agitated and I honestly could not tell you why. I have thought in great depth about this for a long time now and still I have no logical answer. I even joke that Prague is my bubble, my safe place! I feel a sense of belonging here that I never felt in Britain.
After all this, I still cant think of what to say when I am asked that dreaded question, but maybe if they read this article they may understand a little better. I'm quite sure I'm not alone in having these feelings, although most people I meet usually have a concrete reason as to why they left their home country. But for now, instead of pouring over the unknown, I shall concentrate more on how happy I am that I made that important decision to move here.


  1. Lauren, this is so fab! I think you're so brave and adventurous to up and leave like that. So many people just stay put and get miserable. :)
    Durham feels like my bubble (not as far afield as you!) but I also get anxious and weird separation feelings from Durham, whenever I go down to Manchester.
    What is your job, out of curiousity?
    Angelika x

  2. Hiya Lauren, finally managed to start reading your blog and love it! Strangely, I felt the same, but I moved to Britain from Germany and its exactly the same just the other way round. When am feeling down I go over to Germany and after a day I just want to go back home to Britain haha
    You are doing so well, and can only be proud of yourself. I think a visit to Prague is on the cards at one point soon.
    Mel xx

  3. Thanks Angelika! Its weird about the whole bubble thing isn't it? I was reading an article about something that the researcher termed 'existential migration'. Basically, it describes exactly my feelings. He did a study with loads of expats. Look it up, its very interesting. My job is working with industrial lubricants (I know I know!) for a well known oil company, ahem.
    Glad you like it Mel. Again, you might be interested in the 'existential migration' study im taking about. But you loved Berlin didnt you? And definately come to visit anytime you like :) xxx

  4. Hi Lauren, I really like your blog! I think you’re a courageous person because you followed your dream as well as shared your thoughts and feelings here. As I also emigrated from Canada 15+ years ago to Prague, every new person I meet asks me the same question “why did you move here”? I have a legitimate answer but I dread the next questions that usually follow, like “Isn’t Canada better than CZ?” “Do you miss Canada?” To their bewilderment my answer is NO to both questions!
    As you have, I have pondered why this is many times and have come to the same conclusion.
    I have never regretted moving to Prague and I will probably never go back to Canada because, there, I am truly a foreigner.
    Keep up the good work. K

  5. Thank you, thats really nice of you :) My answer is no to both as well, although I can't give any kind of answer as to why either. All I know is that I'm a damn site happier here than I ever was in England, and that's all that matters to me :)