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Gillian: The Glad Blog

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 USA, etc.

Glad to meet you! I’m Gillian, and I was born in England and grew up in Scotland. I married an American in Scotland in 2011, we applied for my spouse visa soon after and I moved to the USA in June 2012.

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

I started blogging before I ever knew I’d be an expat! I originally started the blog when my charming American boyfriend and I had just finished grad school in Scotland.

Some of life's curve balls hit me and I ended up not in Brussels or London as I expected, but right here in corn country with a husband and a bulldog. Now, as an expat, I’m fascinated about this big, wide country I call home, and enjoy trying to understand it, photographing my life, and writing about it. It also helps to keep my grandparents up to date with my new life!

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I try to do a balance of long, written posts, and shorter photo-heavy posts.

  • Buy Me Maybe” is an article about the different UK and USA approaches to TV commercials, and was a really popular post. I think it says a lot about the difference between UK and US culture generally.
  • Go 4th Part 1” was quite fun. For my first July 4th as a US resident, we saw the local parade and I took a lot of photos. Nothing beats a July 4th parade in the middle of Nowhere, USA!
  • I also like the posts I wrote while waiting for my visa. The process took a year so my husband and I didn’t get to spend our first year of marriage together. Understanding the process helped in the waiting game, and helped others understand where our paperwork was at.

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

I did experience culture shock, and I really wasn’t expecting it either. I’d been to the USA so many times before I moved here, but when I realized I was here for good it was a totally different experience.

Moving on a spouse visa has meant I was entirely dependent on my husband and in-laws at the beginning - for introductions, transport, directions, income, everything. Their support has been fantastic, but constantly asking for help knocked my confidence as I was used to being independent.

Driving in the USA is much scarier! Driving an automatic car makes me feel like I have less control and I’m still getting used to intersections.

I’m looking for employment here in the USA. I’ve had a few interviews, and even offers, but I’m using this time of adjustment to decide where I want to go with my career.

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

I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock, because I didn’t think it would happen. I also didn’t expect for it to take so long to get my new life up and running. It took longer than I expected to get my Social Security and to get my driving sorted. That was out of my control though, and it did give me time to settle in and spend some much-needed time with my husband.

I should have spent more time reading all the great resources available for expats prior to my move. I made the assumption that because I was moving on a spouse visa, and not for work, that things would be different. It’s not an easy transition to make.

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

Oh my, indeed! In the first fortnight of my arrival I almost got knocked out by standing on the bed and getting hit square in the head by the ceiling fan. It must have looked like slapstick comedy, but it really hurt. I’m much more used to air conditioning now.

Oh, and I crashed my mother-in-law’s car. Not many people know about this one, so I’ll have to explain it on my blog sometime soon…

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

  • If you’re emigrating from the UK on a spouse visa, make sure you’ve checked the changes to the UK immigration rules before you head to the USA. They changed recently and this may affect your decision to move to the USA.
  • Get a Forex account before you move over, but don’t necessarily move all your money over straight away.
  • Make sure your gran has Skype!

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

As I’m in the heart of rural America and not in an urban area, I haven’t met any other expats. I’m okay with that for now as I haven’t been in the USA too long and the locals have been really lovely. Being the only Brit carries a certain amount of social capital.

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

“An Old World girl’s adventures in the New World” pretty much sums it up. I’m so rooted my British/European heritage, but now I’m discovering the surprising culture of this big new country, and that’s going to become my heritage too.

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

"In such an international city such as Washington, D.C. InterNations holds great events for everyone to network and enjoy themselves."

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