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Mel: Everything I wished for

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Scotland, etc.

I’m an Australian expat who moved to the UK because I have always wanted to be British. I swapped the sunny beaches of Queensland for the cobbled streets of Edinburgh and haven’t looked back! I moved to Edinburgh after coming here on a holiday and not wanting to leave. Edinburgh feels more like home than anywhere else I’ve lived.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I’ve always loved writing and studied Journalism in Australia. I’d been thinking about blogging since I moved to Edinburgh in 2011, but only worked up the courage to actually start blogging in 2014. I didn’t think anyone would read it and I did it more to give myself a creative outlet, but since I started it I’ve had a really great response from other expats wanting to know what it’s like to move here — I don’t mind dishing out advice from what I’ve learned in the last 4 years.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I like the post I did about surviving jet-lag (after many trips back and forth from Australia to the UK, I consider myself somewhat of an expert).

I also like my post about my favorite buildings in Edinburgh which reminds me how beautiful Edinburgh is.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Scotland differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

The thing that took most getting used to was the weather — Scotland is cold pretty much all the time. I do miss the sunshine and the beaches, but Edinburgh still has plenty to offer. Another thing that took getting used to was the Scottish accent — Edinburgh isn’t too bad, but there are some regions of Scotland where I have no idea what they are saying when they speak to me.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Scotland? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I was pretty prepared — I’d been to the UK on holidays so knew what to expect and my grandparents are British so I was already halfway there!

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

When I first got to Edinburgh I got a job working in a Spa. A man called one day to book a treatment, but I couldn’t for the life of me understand his Scottish accent so I just allocated him a time and hoped the therapist could understand what treatment he wanted. He turned up and wanted a certain male waxing treatment, so the therapist got quite a shock when she stepped into the treatment room. Awkward…

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Scotland?

  • Make sure you have a working bank card. There’s nothing worse than arriving for your new life abroad and finding you can’t access your money.
  • Rent a flat through an agency and not a private landlord.
  • Be prepared for lots of questions about why the hell you would want to move somewhere so cold.

How is the expat community in Scotland? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I don’t really have any expat friends — all of my friends tend to be locals. They like to take you under their wing and show you the ropes. I would say the expat community is pretty small here compared to somewhere like London.

How would you summarize your expat life in Scotland in a single, catchy sentence?

I swapped the sunny beaches of Queensland for the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, found where ‘home’ is and met the love of my life.

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

Expat Magazine