Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in the UK:
Everyone knows that I am not from here the moment I speak. One day I was going into the local tea room and a gentleman held the door for me. When I thanked him he asked me where I was from. I said Nailsworth (the next town over, where we were living). He laughed, I laughed and then he said “where are you really from”. I don’t think I will ever lose this accent, and it will always identify me as “not from here”.
The benefit of our accents is that people always want to talk to us. Brits love talking to Americans. We have long conversations with people we meet on the walking paths, or when we are out and about. And people remember us – we are the Americans. We have not met any other Americans here in the Cotswolds, but I am sure there are some.
I have greater freedom here, more opportunities for work and travel and an incredibly international group of friends from all backgrounds, some of whom speak four or five languages. You can walk into a market and eat Tibetan, Japanese, Brazilian, Moroccan, Ethiopian foods.
I guess in a way I like to blog about it to keep a written record and to share my experiences with friends, family and other people who may be interested. I’ve only just started my blog about life in England, so I am bursting with ideas.
My life in Brighton is totally different from life I led back home, also in all other countries I previously lived. This will be because, when I left Poland, I was only 19 years old. As I grew up, I lived in different countries and my circumstances have also been changing. Perhaps due to this I did not experience any culture shock when I moved to Brighton. I feel very free here and I can truly enjoy life, as this city has lots to offer. It is a special place.
The routines are often the same, but in a totally different setting. I had no trouble getting used to St Andrews because it was such an overwhelmingly welcoming environment, but it’s been tougher coming back to look for work and settling down in Stirling. A definite culture shock even from St Andrews!
The funniest moments tend to happen when someone makes a funny assumption about American culture. One of my favorite moments happened at a concert we attended in London. The band is American, and they perform Motown/R&B music. Everyone was dancing and having a great time, and an English guy standing in front of us heard our accents and turned around. He was really excited that we were American, and he drunkenly exclaimed, “You’re American? That’s awesome! I bet you do this, like, every night!” We still laugh about that one. I wish that were true!
We love living in England, and are glad we’re here! That said, we have definitely had some challenges. I think the biggest one is that I am from a very warm, friendly culture, and people here are much more reserved. They don’t talk to strangers much, and it seems pretty hard to get to know people, even in my own neighborhood. We are really doing our best to reach out to the people around us, without being too aggressive and making them uncomfortable! Also, the food has been kind of a bummer.
I had a terrible time adjusting in London and was very homesick for the first 6 months. I’m sure this was made worse by the weather. Winter, although way milder than Canadian winters, sucks. I experienced culture shock in as low and measured way as I continued to settle. I underestimated how different things would be between my old home and London.
I did experience culture shock and one of the difficulties for me was that I didn’t know culture shock existed and neither did my British boyfriend or his family. I was labelled as emotional and difficult. I could have really used the fantastic resources and connections that now exist across the Internet, back then! Meeting up with other expats would have been a great benefit as well.
We didn’t have much trouble adjusting here and have experienced no culture shock. However, there is always adjusting to a new location. Finding a home, adjusting to driving (in this case on a different side of the road), a new school for our kids, finding a church to get involved in, learning how to grocery shop, learning the cultural and social ways of the English. It’s been a great time of learning and exploring!
Before I moved to England I believed that because we shared the same language, culture shock would be pretty minimal. That is until I moved here and realised we don’t speak the same language. Butty. Chinwag. Numpty. These are all words new to my vocabulary!
Since I always receive a crumpled facial expression from British people when I say I moved to London from Florida, I started a lifestyle blog titled Sunny in London. It’s a “Florida girl’s guide to finding sun and fun in London.” I truly believe London is full of sunshine, even though sometimes it is in the form of liquid sunshine or activities that make you feel inner sunshine.
Share. Take everything in, and share it with whoever is willing to listen. Open an Instagram account to share with like minds. Email your photos to your family. Start a blog. Share your experiences, even the mundane. Being an expat is a fantastic experience, but one that might also make you feel as though you have so much to experience, and not many to share it with. I’ve found that sharing helps increase your appetite for adventure.
I don’t know if you can ever be fully prepared for moving to a new country. But we were decently prepared. If you look for it, you can find all sorts of information from books, magazines, and the internet. Indeed, I think the bigger danger is information overload. For me, reading some expat blogs about Scotland helped me a great deal: things to know; places to see; deadlines for forms; items to pack; products to avoid; and so on.
Like-minded people haven’t been hard to find, and we count ourselves lucky in that.