Expats often say that repatriation to your home country is the hardest part of the adventure. Shani Bishop shares her repat journey with us.
Text: Shani Bishop
The first thing you notice as you approach by plane is how green the country is. England is called the 'green and pleasant land', and it certainly is. Trees line most boundaries and many of the streets. The sheer number of trees is staggering. I'd also forgotten how upset people get if trees are cut down. I have already had one conversation about cutting down a neighbour's trees with a friend - I expect more! The other thing which struck us all was the light. The light in Denmark is crisp and clear. The light in the UK is mellow and soft.
We had to quarantine for ten days and spent 4000 DKK on tests for all of us to take on days 2 and 7. The government track and trace service rang us daily (although it didn't seem to matter if some days when we didn't answer). They were ringing to make sure we were quarantined in the place we had declared on our form at the airport. But, of course, we didn't have covid, so everything was fine.
One surprising aspect of covid management in the UK has been ordering free lateral flow tests for everyday use. This means before we visit the grandparents, I can check we are all ok from the comfort of our home. The other system I thought was sound was scanning into restaurants. If you had had contact with someone who had covid, you'd be notified afterwards. Luckily we were never pinged.
The first week back
The first week felt like a honeymoon. We were so pleased to be back in our house and enjoying the garden. But, after that, reality kicked in as the enormity of unpacking became apparent. Balancing unpacking, working while seeing family and enjoying the summer has been a challenge, and it's taken much longer than we expected. In addition, there seemed to be lots of minor problems which take ages to sort out.
Memories of how it used to be…
When you have lived outside your home country for so long, your memory of how things are done is as it used to be. Recently I found myself sitting on a train with paper tickets; I think I was the only one. Everyone else was showing their phones to the inspector. The inspector didn't even have a clipper anymore! I had assumed it hadn't changed and so had diligently printed my tickets. When we first moved to Denmark, we were impressed with how everything was done electronically. The UK is the same now, which I didn't expect.
Denmark is a quiet country. Returning to a country where people talk a lot and are eager to banter is strange at first. We have been surprised when strangers talk on trains, when workmen who come to our house want to chat, and when people say hello in the street. The internet guy told us how he got stuck in Barbados with his family during the first lockdown. It's been really lovely to hear all these stories. We have learnt how some people have felt very anxious while others have loved the lockdowns and furloughed. I do enjoy these everyday interactions with people.
Family members seem to think the UK has got chattier during their lifetime, which I think is interesting.
Some things have obviously changed. Bank notes are now all plastic, eggs are brown rather than white, and of course, we drive on the other side of the road! I still catch myself going to the wrong side of the car and waiting on empty roads for the green man to cross the road, so maybe some behaviours might be here to stay.