Dorte: Where Do We Go Next
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Boston, etc.
My name is Dorte, and I left Denmark, my home country, a little over 6 years ago. After three years in Los Angeles, we relocated to Vienna, Austria and have recently arrived to Boston. I’m married to a researcher, Bjarni from Iceland, and we are the happy parents to 2-year old Anna Silja. I have a degree in social work and anthropology and have specialized in the diverse lifestyles and motivations of highly skilled migrants or expatriates. Although I’m currently a stay-at-home mom, I hope I can continue to nurture my professional interests, and being surrounded by lots of other expats, I don’t feel like I need to go far to learn and be reminded about the special nature of making a home away from home with all that includes.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
We started a blog, when we first moved overseas in 2006. It was initially a way to share our experiences with family and friends back home. It additionally turned out to be a great way for us to keep track of our experiences and thoughts along the way, so there has been a personal motivation to keep it up and continue as we moved to other places. I find that it’s a great way and at times even therapeutic way to reflect about the ups and downs that are part of a move and temporary settlement.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My blog is mostly pictures with limited text. When I manage to actually write more than just a couple of lines regarding issues related to the expat way of life and how that develop me as a person, or us a family, those are the ones I like the most.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Boston differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
We are approaching our four-month mark in Boston so we are still in the process of adjusting and sorting out our options. The biggest difference is currently to be a stay-at-home mom. Coming from Vienna, where childcare is cheap and quite easily accessible we are rather shocked about the prices here. Having lived in the US before (Los Angeles) though, I think we had a pretty good idea about what to expect, how to interact with the local population etc. And in general I find the US to be a very easy place to move to. We already speak the language, people are generally incredibly friendly and easy to get to know, and there are a lot of other foreigners who are fairly new to the area just like us, and who happily share their experiences about all the do’s and don’ts in Boston.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Boston? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We were extremely busy right up until our move, so we didn’t have time to really prepare anything but the actual move. Settling in has been incredibly easy though, which is probably both because we have lived in the US before and didn’t need to go through the hassle of getting social security, opening bank accounts, ensuring a good credit history etc. In addition my husband’s workplace has provided a lot of opportunities and community for family members, so until now everything has thankfully worked out very well.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Boston?
- Boston is totally doable without a car. We use Zipcar, take the T and busses and it works smooth (Perhaps I’ll long for our own car when the cold season comes?)
- Be prepared for a pricy stay. Housing is expensive!
- The driving culture in Boston is bad! (Be aware of drivers running red lights and stop signs, and those behind you get impatient and honk the horn or yell out the window if you don’t do the same.)
How is the expat community in Boston? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It’s a university town with students and researchers arriving from near and far. It is this international academic community we have connected with through my husband’s workplace, and I have been positively surprised to find so many other women/mother’s who are in the exact same situation as myself, which honestly is a big a relief.
How would you summarize your expat life in Boston in a single, catchy sentence?
So far has Boston proven to be a welcoming, easily accessible and enjoyable city with a large expat community that ensures an easy transition into a new life on the American East Coast.