From California to England: ClariMichele
Hello fellow expats! I’m Clarissa from clarimichele.com. My husband Andrew and I moved from California to England in 2015. So far it’s been an amazing, challenging experience.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I decided to move abroad because why not? I’ve always wanted to live in Europe, and when Andrew’s job gave us the opportunity to move to the UK, we decided to take it. We were engaged at the time, and we ended up moving 9 months after we got married. We’ve taken advantage of our new location by traveling as much as possible around Europe. So far we’ve been to Budapest, Italy, Prague, Vienna, and Berlin.
2. How do you make a living?
I work at a community college run by the county council. I was pretty clueless when I first started applying for jobs. I had no idea how my qualifications (B.A. degree at the time) translated in the UK. I think on one application I selected “Level 2” as my level of education when I should have put a “Level 4” or higher. I applied for a temp role at the college, and that led to a permanent position. It’s been interesting comparing the education system here to my experience in the US.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I do miss being home, but Skype and being able to chat online helps me keep in contact with friends and family. Andrew and I decided before we moved that we would make going home once a year a priority. We were able to go home for Christmas last year, and this year we went back for Thanksgiving (flights are cheaper in November!). If I have a trip home to look forward to, I find that I don’t get quite as homesick.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in the UK?
I love the travel opportunities here! I’d never been to Europe before moving to the UK, but in a year’s time I’ve traveled to Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, and Germany. I also like the amount of holiday we get here – approximately 5 weeks not including bank holidays. We’ve also embraced tea, and full English breakfasts.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in the UK?
I really struggle with the weather, and darkness in the winter. I’m not a morning person under the bet conditions, so waking up in total darkness (at 7 am!) isn’t my favorite.
6. What do you miss most?
If I was answering this question a year ago, I would have said I miss the food most –mainly Mexican food. But I’ve adapted, and learned how to make more things myself. Now I miss the climate of Southern California most. I miss long warm summers, and the beach.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Working helps a lot with integrating. We don’t know any other expats in our area, but we’ve met a few people at church that we meet up with for a meal now and then. Blogging is another way I connect with other people and socialise. I recently went to a blogging event in London, and it was fun to have a chance to meet other bloggers in the area.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I think people are more “home bodies” here – which makes some sense since the weather isn’t always great.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
One myth about the UK is that people either talk like Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins or the Queen. In reality, the UK is full of so many different accents I can’t keep track of them.
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 is similar to San Diego where we lived before we moved. We still have to send money back the US for student loan payments, so we immediately felt the effects of Brexit when the pound decreased in value.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
As someone who has just survived the first year as an expat, I would just like to say: persevere my fellow expats! Things continue to get easier and easier as time passes. I think the most important thing is to give each new experience a “trial period” of a few months at least. Don’t give up on anything too quickly – give your job, your church, co-workers, town, etc. a proper chance to grow on you. I struggled to feel at home anywhere in this country at first, but I truly believe anywhere can become home if you are willing to stay put for a while and grow some roots. It’s great that we can travel more than ever now that we live in the UK, but I think it’s wise to invest in your homebase too.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2013, and at first I just shared my thoughts. Now it’s a way to keep friends and family in the loop. I also like to share DIY projects and updates around our house.
Clarissa's blog, ClariMichele
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