Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 13

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So much of my expat life in the last two months has been political. I think every single day for the last few months, I’ve considered scrounging up a few (hundred) quid to fly back to Colorado for a few days and be politically active ahead of the midterm elections. Needless to say, it didn’t happen, but assuming we’re still abroad in 2020, I will consider planning a trip back to the States in the fall so that I can participate in our democracy (and maybe catch a Buffs game or two.)

But before you click away for fear I’m about to be political about Tuesday’s elections, I won’t. Instead, I want to talk about what it’s been like to be away from my country during election season.

It’s been a long few months leading into this year’s midterms and it’s been tough to watch from on the other side of the pond. Democracy works when we participate in it and every day I would log into Twitter and read tweets about how tweeting isn’t enough. You have to call your representatives, canvass, get your friends and family registered to vote. I wasn’t able to do any of that so I often just felt like I was screaming into a void. Retweets and @ing Congressmen on Twitter already didn’t felt like enough and it was tough to be reminded every day of that. I didn’t really have a choice though.

After talking to my mom one day in September, I realised I could at least use my social media platform and online presence to remind people to register to vote. I started sharing reminders every Tuesday leading up to the election and did research on voter registration deadlines in each state to share on Facebook with my friends who were scattered across the country. That brought a little peace of mind, thankfully. One day, I helped my brother get his absentee ballot sorted with Colorado and a few weeks before the election, a friend said she registered to vote thanks to my constant reminders. It was a bit of solace amidst a sea of helplessness and anxiety. Later, a friend tagged me in a post about a campaign called Influence the Election, so I shared the post and tagged some people on Instagram as well. Some big accounts I follow reposted their own because I had tagged them. That was awesome!

I voted by absentee ballot from Colorado in October. I’ve actually only ever voted by mail, so I’ve never gotten an “I Voted” sticker. This year, I ordered a six pack of “VOTE” buttons from Etsy so I could wear one to drop off my ballot and on Election Day, even though I'm in England.

I also took Wednesday, the 7th off from work. I figured I’d either stay up super late or wake up super early to watch the results come in from across the pond. It’s not easy with the seven hour time difference, but I didn’t want to be dragging my feet at work all day and I had the time to take off anyway. Thank goodness I did because Luke woke me up around 1AM and I was glued to my phone watching the returns until 5AM. My hand still hurts from holding my phone. Yikes.

Speaking of the time difference, we had Daylight Saving a week before the States did. So for seven days we were eight hours ahead instead of the usual seven. I remember those weeks when Luke and I were long distance and the time difference was slightly off. Somehow, even if were only six hours, it was the worst. We had just gotten so accustom to the seven hour difference and it worked out really well because how our work and sleep schedules were at the time. On the usual schedule, we were able to talk to each other almost every day before and after work for both of us and before falling asleep and after waking up for both of us.

Most of the last two months were business as usual. That is, other than our 10 day trip to Italy. Were in Italy—in Naples, on the Amalfi Coast, and in Rome—for the second half of September and it was lovely! I intended to blog about the whole trip last month, but I’ve been having computer issues, which made it really difficult to edit the 6,000+ photos I took on our trip! Also, I simply didn’t leave myself enough time to get all of the posts together to the level of thoroughness I wanted. I promise they’re coming.

I participated in my first Bonfire Night celebrations last Thursday when I went to our friends’ house for drinks and a BBQ around the fire pit before walking over the university for the fireworks display. I was imaging something like the Fourth of July but in November, but it wasn’t quite. Nobody sat down. The area on campus where everyone watching the display was packed with people shoulder-to-shoulder. If you didn’t show up with someone, there was hardly any chance of finding them. They also had a little carnival set up with rides and concessions. I’ve only seen that at one fireworks display I’ve been to in the States. But I’ve never seen Americans do fireworks set to music. That was pretty cool!

We’ve been working hard to plan our second Thanksgiving—technically Friendsgiving. I’m really excited to host again, but I’m also already looking forward to Thanksgiving 2019 when we hopefully have a bigger dining room so it’s not so cramped. We’re also planning our trip back to Colorado for Christmas, but this time we’re scheduling in some free time so it doesn’t feel as busy and chaotic as it did in July! It’s been a crazy few months trying to soak up every minute of fall, but also already looking ahead to the holidays.

In the meantime, we’ve started a cleanse this week that was recommended by our friends. It’s similar to the Whole 30 I think, but re-introduces more foods throughout the 28 days, with the first four days being the most restrictive. We do have Thanksgiving in the time frame, but we’re going to do our best. Our goal is to eat along the lines of Whole 30 (focusing mostly on meat and veg) at home throughout the holidays. In the new year, we’ll probably do this cleanse again and make sure we don’t have anything coming up to interrupt it.

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