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Cher: The Chicago Files

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 USA 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 the United States, etc.

I am originally from a small town in Ontario, Canada, but I moved to Chicago from the western Province of Manitoba. I moved to Chicago about 5 years ago, and I absolutely love it! As for who I am, why, I adore the little things in life, I am grateful for kindness, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts with others.

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

This is such a great question! My friends and family back in Canada continued to ask me about my experiences in Chicago. I was constantly putting little stories on Facebook, so a little over a year ago (January, 2014) I started The Chicago Files.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Oh yes, I sure do! Here are a few of my favorite posts thus far:

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

When I first moved to Chicago, I was really surprised at how large the city is compared to what I was use to back home in Canada. I also didn’t realize that so many products I could get back home weren’t available here. You’d think they would be, since our two countries are literally right next to each other. I also found it a bit hard to get use to people not being quite as friendly as Canadians. I don’t mean to say they aren’t nice people here; there are, but in Canada we are friendly to everyone and helpful. I found this took some adjusting for me.

I was walking down a busy street once here in Chicago, and someone bumped right into me and didn’t even say, “Excuse me”. But I must say that overall most people are respectful. Perhaps I noticed it so much because Canadians are known for being extremely thoughtful and polite.

Oh, it also took me a while to get use to the money here. All bills are the same color: green. In Canada, different bills are different colors, so in Chicago I had to be careful not to give out too much money, as the bills look the same!

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

I left this question out as I don’t think I really have a good answer for it! Sorry!

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

*LOL* Yes, I had only been here for a few weeks when I was at a grocery store minding my own business. Someone literally came up to me out of the blue and said, “Can I have ten dollars?” Well, that had never, ever happened to me in Canada!! I was so shocked and scared that I went running down the aisle looking for some kind of security person. The only person I could find was a man stocking the shelves. I told him what happened, that I was from Canada and that this was really quite something he grinned, looked at me and said, “Well you are in Chicago now!”

Now it wouldn’t even phase me! :)

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

Three tips I can give future expats before they embark on their new life in Chicago:

  • You are going to be in a huge, American city. Make sure you always have your belongings and money close to you. That isn’t to say you have to always feel scared; no, it’s just being aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not be upset if people are not as friendly as in your home country. You will get to know people by joining groups, through work, etc. You will meet more than enough friendly people here.
  • Try and visit lots and lots of the cultural attractions and restaurants here in Chicago. This city has more amazing restaurants than anywhere else I have ever been! The deep dish pizza that Chicago is known for is THAT good! And the cultural attractions, museums, outdoor events, you name it, it’s here!

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

I joined the Canadian Expat group and have been to a few events. To be honest, I think it is really fun to join groups and participate in activities with Americans as well because it has given me a lot of information about the way they see Chicago, and not from a tourist’s perspective. I also volunteered for a number of years reading to blind and low-vision folks. To be able to get around Chicago as a sighted person is one thing, but to be blind and maneuver your way around is amazing and humbling.

How would you summarize your expat life in the United States in a single, catchy sentence?

My Chicago: I can’t get enough of your cultural coolness, and the pizza perfection!!

Brian Norris

"When first moving to Washington, D.C., I didn't know many people outside of the office. InterNations has changed that with some exciting events."

Caroline Stiles

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