“Do you miss it?”
Short answer? Most definitely. Having Europe at your doorstep is a well-documented perk of living in London. Where else can you be at your office desk on a Friday, and on top of a Norwegian fjord the next? But while there’s no denying the awesomeness of the travel opportunities, the thing I’ve missed the most since returning has been the expat ‘bubble’. The ability to call up your mates for a cheeky drink or impromptu get together midweek is all too easy when everyone lives within 20 minutes of each other and the desk job we need to get to the next morning. The marriage of a sprawling concrete jungle steeped in history, and young, cashed up, obligation-lite professionals looking to make the most out of a transitory period of their lives is one that I don’t think I’ll experience again in my lifetime.
“Do you regret coming back?”
This one’s harder, and one I don’t think I’ll be able to answer (at least honestly) for a while. Firstly, to regret leaving requires one to have a choice in the matter, and I was fortunate enough to have that option through employer sponsorship. I think I’d feel very differently if I had no choice but to return – I would have simply reflected on how lucky I had been to have an amazing 2 years and be grateful for the fact that I could return to a country like Australia.
I left for two main reasons. Firstly, I had gotten what I wanted out of the experience. I came with the intention of exploiting my independence and smashed that objective out of the park. Pre-London dimsumforone would not have travelled solo through rural Spain where no English is spoken, found himself at a hostel bar discussing politics with an Irish folk band or bathing out in the open on a French farm field.
The Asturias (Spain)
My success at the primary objective significantly reduced the returns from staying on. On the cusp of turning 30 and with aspirations to have a family to call my own one day, each additional day in London had the effect of deferring the start of the next stage of my life. The pivotable moment came when I was upgraded to a villa in the French seaside town of St Jean de Luz. Complete with a private pool and garden, it was far too big for one occupant and thus felt more hollow than fortuitous. Attending a friend’s wedding a few days later, I knew it was time to move on.
St Jean De Luz (France)
And so, whether I regret leaving essentially now rests on how I go with turning dimsumforone into dim sum for two or more – only time will tell!