When Moving Your Family to a Different Country Feels Like Dancing in the Dark

When Moving Your Family to a Different Country Feels Like Dancing in the Dark

A little under three years ago, we moved our family of four to Bath, in England. I gloss over how hard it was looking back on it because we gained a baby and a heck of a lot of beautiful experiences. It’s beautiful how memory works like that.

However, if I get real about it, there were loads of challenges that I blogged about back then. It was one of my most popular posts ever. It was raw and truthful, but I think people loved it because change is a part of everyone’s life, whether we like it or not. Despite how common it is for us to experience change, we humans still seem to feel terribly weird about it.


Now here we are, having moved our family back across the seas to Australia, and we are deep in a process of changing again.

There is that same old sense of unattached-ness that I recall being so uncomfortable with the last time. After a few months, the excitement of the new slowly fades and in its place is a vague nostalgia for the settled, lovely life left behind in Bath alongside a feeling of being a kind of imposter back here in Australia.

Yes, I am Australian and grew up in Sydney, however, I come from the East and we now live in the North. So although this place is very familiar and comforting in one way, it is at the very same time a new community, a new sub-culture and an area where I don’t know many people closely. All my close friends and family remain elsewhere.

This is the time where the gloss of the international move has rubbed off, and the nuts and bolts of shipping your container across the ocean, finding a place to live, finding schools, finding your people have begun to wear you down.

This is when I feel like I’m dancing in the dark. All the certainties that we kidded ourselves we knew are shimmering and disappearing and the reality of this life here is a stark contrast.

Now begins the real work of adjusting and aligning and negotiating ourselves into this new life. From past experience, this is a tricky phase that stops and starts over the next year or two until we are really and truly embedded in this place.

Is it precarious? Yes

Is it uncertain? Yes

Is it rewarding? Who knows?

And so, the real uncertainty, the wobbliness of the ground on which we find ourselves, is felt once more. Who will our friends be? Who will we share life’s important moments with? Who will I lament with on a gloomy day, and laugh with on a fun one?


The beautiful thing about these moments is that we are forced to surrender ourselves to the process with all its uncertainty and in a funny way we are stripped bare, right back to the kernel of who we are. We do get to bring the little bit ourselves that has changed from being away, back into cahoots with the bit of ourselves that stayed here. It’s a risky surgery, but an important one: connecting the parts of ourselves into one whole.

All the organising and controlling and manoeuvring that has got us from Bath back to Sydney now has to recede and in their place must stand a new approach of letting go of the control, surrendering to the present and embracing this life. For better or worse, the present is where we live and here, this now, is what’s important. Easier said than done, but for me, there is no worthier goal than to be present to this one precious life, these few precious children and this one beautiful singular moment.

Alena // Soul Mamma is a writer, educator, ethical digital creator and mum of three little darlings doing this compassionate care stuff in Freshwater near Sydney, Australia. You can join her and bumble through this parenting malarkey together with other lovely souls in the Soul Mamma Crew

alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist
alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist

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  1. I love how you talk about the busyness of such a move – I remember packing my life in 21 boxes and shipping them overseas – and then almost waking up one day and realizing that you’ve moved into the 2nd phase of integration. I remember that phase oh so well. 23 years Monday, I followed my heart to marry the man I fell in love with in Germany. I had no clue what I was doing back then, let alone think about staying here… That move though helped me grow SO much, in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

    But yeah, that 2nd phase of a big move was rough for me and it lasted for several years and sometimes still pops up every now and then.

    I knew no one but my husband. I couldn’t speak the language until after the 8 mths. of an intense German course (6 hrs/day). and the mentality of the people here was completely foreign to me. I remember coming home and asking my husband why the cashiers hated me because there was no customer service in Germany 23 years ago. I was used to the welcoming Southern hospitality in the states where I last lived, but in Germany, instead of being asked how my day was going with a huge smile and fully concentrated look into my eyes, I was given nasty looks from the cashier who couldn’t be bothered to take my money. Germany’s changed though and the cashiers now smile, most of the time anyway. But also, I changed, and can now make them smile!

    I wish you a peaceful and exciting 2nd phase of integration. Enjoy the process of finding your people. 🙂

    • admin

      Hi Jess, sorry it’s taken me so long to reply! I really relate to all that you mentioned and wow… you’ve done some living just like us! You’re so spot on in terms of the way you remember these intense moments in your life. I’m really glad you got something out of the article. Please do keep in touch x

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