From Las Vegas to London: Girl in London
Hi! I’m Cheylene, an American living in London. My backstory is a little complicated. I moved to London from Las Vegas, which is where I went to university. However, I spent most of my time in the US living in Northern California in a small town called Davis. Before that I lived near Savannah, Georgia in and even smaller town called Hinesville and before that I spent some time in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.
1. Why did you move abroad?
There are so many reasons! If I had to narrow it down, the main reason why I moved to England was because I wanted to see the world and experience life from a non-American perspective. I was also really inspired by my dad; he’s lived in and worked in four different countries (Korea, Thailand, Germany, USA), and I grew up listening to all his stories from his experiences around the world. Now that I’ve made the move abroad, I feel like I have some stories of my own that I’ll have to look back on when I get older.
2. How do you make a living?
When I first moved to London I immediately found work as a software QA analyst. Working and commuting in London was a big transition for me. Everything is much more communal compared to the US. I took the tube to work instead of a car, and worked in a really open environment without cube walls. In the end though, I only ended up working a ‘desk job’ for about a year.
After that I started my own company and now work as a technical writer and translator. Over the past six months my blogs have gained some traction, and that’s allowed me to also dabble in travel writing and photography. These days I can spend a Monday translating German software manuals and a Tuesday taking photos around the city.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
It depends on the person. I have an old college buddy and former co-worker from Vegas who I’ve e-mail pretty much every day since I moved to London, and I moved here 3+ years ago! We’ve probably sent each other hundreds of thousands of emails by now. Is that weird? I connect with other friends on Facebook and Skype with my dad at least once a week. I don’t know what I’d do without technology! I can’t imagine what it was like to be an expat in the pre-Internet days.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in London?
The culture and the opportunity to travel around Europe. London has so much going on every single day of the year. I’m a total museum nerd, and most of the major museums here are free, so I’m pretty much in heaven. There are so many different events around the city each week (e.g. festivals, markets, exhibitions) that I get to do something new every weekend. That’s on top of exploring all the different boroughs and neighborhoods. I think I could spend a lifetime in London and still not run out of things to do. I also love the fact that London is so close to cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin. Flights are so cheap that you can pretty much go anywhere in Europe on any given weekend if you feel like it.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in London?
As much as I love London, living here is hard. In America everything is new and shiny, and we take a lot of stuff for granted. London is really old and the infrastructure here is pretty poor as a result. Internet access is really slow, you have to read your own electricity meters, bag your own groceries, it’s impossible to receive packages in the building I live in, the subway system breaks down constantly . . . it’s really frustrating at times.
6. What do you miss most?
FOOD. Oh my goodness do I miss the food. No one loves American food more than me, but it’s impossible to find in England. Every time my boyfriend goes back to the states I tell him to eat food on my behalf. When we talk on the phone or text, my first question is always “What did you eat today?” It’s so sad.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Working in an office certainly helped when it came to meeting people. When I first moved I lived with flatmates for a little while and I met a lot of people through them. Most of the people I’ve met are also expats, so it’s nice that we’re all kind of going through an integration process together. England is kind of a quirky place so we find ourselves asking, “Do the British people you know do/say ___”, a lot.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I’ve found British people to be very polite, but almost to a fault. Americans in general are really direct and there’s not a lot of ambiguity in what we say. People here, on the other hand, dance around their words more and it takes some getting used to.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
Hmmm. I wish I could say the weather isn’t as bad as people say, but that’s not true (hah). I suppose one myth that still exists in the US is that British people today still care about the American Revolution (or American War of Independence, as they call it). No one cares; it’s all water under the bridge. That being said, you may be on the receiving end of a few wisecracks if you dress like Uncle Sam on July 4th.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living in London is probably more than double than the cost of living in Las Vegas. Luckily, salaries are scaled accordingly. Things were much harder when I first moved here and I was trying to be very cautious and conservative about what I spent. Now that I’ve settled in and am accustomed to the prices, it’s not that bad. The biggest change is that my boyfriend and I live in a 1-bedroom apartment. It’s modern and nice, but it’s about 1/3 the size of the house we had in Vegas. The apartment also happens to cost twice as much as the house did. However, that’s partially offset by the fact that I no longer have a car to pay for.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
If you’re thinking about becoming an expat or have the opportunity to do so, then do it! Will it be difficult? Yes. Will there be tears? Probably. But it is so rewarding and so worth it. It’s been such a life-changing experience for me that I can’t imagine what my life would have been like had I stayed in the US. For those who are just starting out their expat lives, my advice would be to look for the positive in everything and expect to encounter obstacles. It’s all a part of the journey.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I got the domain for my blog, www.girlinlondon.com, right after moving to London in Dec. 2010. The site really didn’t come into its own until about a year ago though, when I began to add content regularly. I started the site to help people who were looking for information on how to move to London and what to expect once they got here. I’ve received so many encouraging emails from people moving here, both temporarily and permanently, that it motivates me to add more content and anecdotes from life in London.
Cheylene's blog, Girl in London: An American Girl in London
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Americans wanted for TV Piloy
Hope you are well?
My name is Coral and i'm a TV researcher for a company called Casting House. I'm currently looking for Americans living in the UK who have a former love they'd like to get back in contact with.
It would be great to speak with you about this and see if there's anyone you know who might be suitable.
Is there a number I could possibly reach you on?
I am available on 01908 681143Coral 24 Feb 2014, 12:26
So basically the same idea as Finnbars pub and all the other Irish Bars around.Patrica Eutsey 21 Mar 2014, 20:06