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Tina: Girl Meets Globe

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in the UK makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

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

My name is Tina. I’m an Alaska girl that moved to Texas to attend university, then married a Texan. We’ve been at this expat life for 14 years and started our journey in Russia. It’s also taken us to Prague, Czech Republic, Madrid, Spain & Vienna, Austria. We moved to England, our 5th country, in February 2013.

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

Blogging started as a means of keeping our family updated after the adoption of our first child and then the birth of our twins in Prague, Czech Republic in 2006. I came to love the idea of community with bloggers and have made friends around the world through it.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

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

Our move here is a bit different since we moved from another European country with a 6 month trip to Texas in between. 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!

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

I think we were well prepared and couldn’t have asked for the transition to go any better. We had traveled to England several times previously, had colleague friends already living here and were given much advice and input about possible locations to live.

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

The biggest has been the small differences in the American and English language that can create some funny situations. Luckily, fanny packs are not in my every day vocabulary as “fanny” means something completely different. I’ll need to remember to call it a bum bag. I am constantly calling trousers “pants” and even suggested to a girl on a school trip to pull up her “pants.” A friend and I were talking about our kid’s swim lessons sponsored through the school. They have to take a coach (or as we know it, a bus) to the swimming pool. She asked how many coaches were there and I thought she meant how many coaches, as in swim instructors were there. We had a good little laugh over that!

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

  • Do your research! From visas to neighborhoods to live in, cell phone service to medicines and medical care.
  • Find bloggers or others who’ve made the move to give you tips and tricks to make the transition easier. Ask lots of questions!!
  • Soak up the language, culture, sights and history as much as you can. As an American, we speak the same language but it doesn’t always mean I understand the language & culture. I’ve had a few conversations where I was straining to understand a strong regional accent. Even though we seem so much alike (Americans & Brits), many things we do are quite different.

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

I don’t live in an area where there are many expats. I’ve been fortunate to make some friends, but it can take time. The expats I have encountered (outside of our own colleagues) have been through blogging. They’ve been a great encouragement to me and sharing tips about the area.

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

There is so much to see and do in England and I think Shakespeare says it well in “ As you Like it,” Act II, Scene IV. “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.”

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."

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