Five days after I arrived in England Debbie arrived at my front door. She had invited me to attend the September General Meeting of the CAWC and the best part was she was going to drive me there herself. At this point in time I was still a little anxious about driving to unfamiliar places and adjusting to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Some people (and by some people I mean my children) would say I’m not there yet.
The club meets in a nearby hall and from the moment I stepped into the meeting room I felt at home. I will add here that although the club is known as an American women’s club its membership is truly international. Anyone who has a child at the International School can join so it’s an amazing mix of about 200 women representing close to 50 nationalities and cultures. My first meeting happened to be their first meeting of the calendar year and it was a meet and greet type of event with some ice breakers thrown in for fun. I even won a prize for being the ‘most recently arrived’.
The club holds one meeting per month in addition to organizing about 20 activities each month that you can pick and choose from…everything from tennis to scrapbooking, hiking, outings, date nights, moms and tots, golf, antiquing….basically anything you’d like to do while in England plus the added bonus of friends to do it with. In addition they host several newcomers’ coffees each year that are filled with helpful tips on life in this country. As if that weren’t enough, they also raise money for the National Society for Epilepsy and another local charity each year. And the women in this club…some of the nicest people I’ve ever known. Perhaps it is because we’re all living away from home. Well, most of us anyway…we do have some British members, many who have lived in the US for a period of time and want to maintain their connection with American women. Some of them are where I am now…they’ve lived in a foreign country that feels like home and after repatriating back to their home country they feel like they belong in two places.
The first year of ex pat life definitely presents some challenges and it is a wonderful thing to have women to share it with....women who can answer questions, women who will tell you where to find things you need to make your house feel like home, women who understand that children need play dates and moms do too, women who understand the emotional roller coaster you stepped on the day your husband announced you were actually moving to England, women who invite you to coffee when you need a friend, women who go to Italy with you for your birthday just for fun, and most especially women who understand that leaving a country you have lived in and loved is not an easy thing. In fact it’s a very hard thing.
Every May our club hosts a tea party for its members. The hall where we meet is the opposite of fancy so its great fun to see it dressed up every May. Women volunteer to decorate a table and they provide the tablescape which of course includes a teapot. The club provides the treats… tea sandwiches, cakes, and my favourite, scones with clotted cream and jam. When we arrived here my children were quite put off by the word ‘clotted cream’. Me, not so much. I am actually never put off by anything containing the word cream so I was on board from day one. It’s really just an extra extra thick cream, almost butter but not quite.
Many of the tables are put together by our various activity groups. Our Book Bunch always has a fantastic table and a lot of that is due to the fact that one of our members makes the most delicious cakes I’ve ever in my life tasted.
In that moment you cannot imagine that one day you will have a blog and you will say they were right.