Beyond Relocation: Connecting with people in a new country brought me comfort

After moving to the US, Ritu Mehta struggled to adapt to being away from her support system. She recounts how she coped, and what she learnt from this experience

In 2006, I worked at a multinational company in Delhi in a leadership role. I had a fabulous work life, full of exciting opportunities for travel and career advancement. I lived with my close-knit family who are my support system. 

Then I got married and moved to the US. The change seemed drastic - from a busy, happening life in a big city, I moved to a slow-paced life in a small town in Michigan. My world shrunk to one person - my husband whom I didn’t [completely] know yet. My family, friends and my job, everything was distant. I wasn’t my usual self in the first few months and found it difficult to adjust to the new lifestyle. In spite of finding a best friend in my husband, I felt lonely. My father underwent a minor surgery during this time and it was the first time when I wasn’t around for a lifeevent like this. This was an emotionally difficult time for me. Knowing that it wasn’t practical to travel to India every now and then to visit my parents made me feel lonelier.

Life started picking up pace. I started getting introduced in the city’s social circles and before I knew it, I was hosting my husband’s colleagues at home over a weekend. I started looking forward to weekends and the get togethers with friends and colleagues. My house and evenings were filled with laughter and life again. Meanwhile, I also picked up assignments with an organization in the neighborhood and explored online courses. As I waited for my work permit, these small changes helped me overcome my loneliness.

Now, I was truly happy. For the first time in a long time, I could smell the coffee. I reconnected with the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair. I was slowing down and I learned to let it go.

After about a year, we moved to San Diego, California with a new job assignment. Life was once again different, but I learnt how to handle it better now.

We came back to India a few years ago, close to family and people I care. I again celebrate festivals and personal milestones with more smiles and non-stop chatter. 

After all these years, I realized that it was not the town or the US that was a disappointment for me. It was my own inability to look at the brighter side, which made the change so difficult for me initially. I was focusing so hard on things I didn’t have, that I missed to appreciate things I had. As much as I am content to be back home now, I miss my life in the US.

It is Oprah Winfrey who has sort of summarized my learning here - “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” 

Ritu Mehta is a chartered accountant and certified career coach with over 15 years of experience.

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