Suzy: A Little Big Apple
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to New York, etc.
My husband and I left Perth, Australia in mid 2011 to start new lives in New York - he as a student of Finance, and I, well, as a 'dependent' (thanks to my immigration papers!). Prior to moving I worked as a public health researcher, but now here in New York, I do a little volunteer work, play house-wife and blog.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I thought about blogging not long after I arrived but motivation didn’t breeze in until 8 months later. I love to write, take photos and give unsolicited advice. And New York provides so much material, especially for a new New Yorker. A blog was the perfect platform for me. Plus: mum likes it!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite would be “One Girl, Many Shops” because my friends (who were visiting) and I had such a good time doing the ‘photo shoot’ all afternoon. And, given my current lack of shopping funds, I enjoyed having a shopping experience at no expense.
Tell us about the ways your new life in New York differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Apart from the obvious difference of being in a very big, very busy city, there are other differences that I had under-estimated. I had a false impression that because Australia is so influenced by America and we speak the same language (most of the time!) it would be just the same (except with more people and more stuff to do). But the US is different in so many ways – some great (e.g. the diversity) and some not so great (e.g. the healthcare system)
Generally, we have adjusted well though. Not having my dog or my people is the most difficult thing for me. Other than that, some days I just need more space!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in New York? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Before our move, life had been pretty hectic with preparation being restricted to the must-do’s; organizing our Visa’s, flights, travel insurance and a short term apartment (oh yes, and watching ‘Sex and the City’). Having said that I am not sure I could’ve been more prepared – sometimes you just have to throw yourself in.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in New York?
For me, moving to New York was a bit like the dream of owning a winery, very romanticized, and completely blinkered to the realities of daily life. My tips:
- Enjoy the excitement, but be realistic about the challenges living in another country will bring
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, and there will be lots of small stuff
- Find out what things from home are difficult to find in New York (e.g. a favourite brand of chocolate or soap) and bring a supply with you.
How is the expat community in New York? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
New York must be one of the easiest places to meet expats – every second person I meet is a foreigner (although many are tourists too). I have met many expats through my husband’s university.
How would you summarize your expat life in New York in a single, catchy sentence?
50% grand adventure, 50% just living life in another place!