None of us have spent much time in “the city.” Our house in the States is in a town of about 17,000. Moving to a city of about 45,000 in Europe has been a change of culture for us. We love the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a different way of life.
Years ago, I had a colleague who grew up in New York City. He said in the City everyday is about surviving: finding food, finding life’s necessities, getting by. I thought this was odd. Isn’t that what people did in the jungle? Maybe he was right. Finding life’s necessities can be challenging in the Urban Jungles as well.
We are, by no means, in an Urban Jungle. Durham is surrounded by rolling hills, farm land, and plenty of green spaces. However, we find ourselves adapting to a new environment with rules, protocols, and guidelines what we must navigate. Life is different for us as we learn to meet life’s little challenges without a car. We had two vehicles in America. Between the two of them we probably drove 30-40,0000 miles last year. Sometimes we would take a road trip, but most of those miles came in 20 minute trips around town: to school, to work, back to the school, to after-school activities, to home, to the church.
Now that we don’t have a car, we have to learn some new skills in a new environment. We aren’t the only people that do this. Millions of people do this all around the world. It is just new to us. With a can do attitude, everyone decided to figure this out.
We walk most places we need to go. Shopping is about a half of a mile away. The city center is about a mile and a half. The doctor is about three-quarters of a mile away. All of those are not bad on a nice day. But with the four of us, it takes some adjusting. Oh, and there is the English weather to consider. How do you get the groceries home from the store? You only buying what you need for a few days, not make a fourteen-day restock. How do you get all your errands done? You plan your time and consolidate your trips. What if you have to get across town? You learn to negotiate the bus schedules.
The bus schedule is probably my biggest challenge. My little home county in Western Kentucky still does not have a stoplight. Negotiating bus schedules, planning on being somewhere at a specific time, making sure you can catch a bus back home…these are all new experiences for this family of country mice.
However, we are loving it. It allows us time together on long walks. It gives us some new challenges. It is like doing a big puzzle–of which we find ourselves right in the middle!