Category Archives: expattoexpat

Advice to My Pre-Expat Self

Q I: What advice would you give to your pre-expat self? 

The advice that I would give to my pre-expat self would be to above all else keep positive.  Life is about how we tackled the challenges in our life and it will not always be easy.  Since becoming an expat I have had to deal with finding employment, getting approved to rent from a leasing agent without credit in England and not having a guarantor,  and cultural issues with co-workers  The most stressful being this time last year when my husband and I were both without jobs, a lease ending soon, not knowing  how we would afford to live two months down the line, and our kids were all the way back in the US with grandparents.  It was a stressful time.  However in the end my husband got the perfect job in just the nick of time, we found a new place to live, and we moved to Bath with our sons that joined us just a couple of days before Christmas. Of course life is always easiest to view in hindsight. However, things work out the way they are meant to be and it is better to remain really positive than to let the negative affect you.

Q II: How do you reconcile what you thought life would be like in your new home and what it is in actuality?

I thought we would be able to have done a lot more traveling than we have now.  Granted, between my husband and I we have traveled to four different countries outside of the UK.  However I thought my sons would have seen several countries in Europe by now and so far they have only been to England and Wales. Traveling is just a lot more expensive when you have a family of four.  While my passports are not collecting stamps we are taking advantage of the area we live in with  country walks and visits to see nearby towns.  Technically we will not be able to travel out of the UK for about six months anyways since our passports are with Ryan’s current ILR visa application.  I am looking forward to finally traveling with my boys outside of the UK and reliving the childhood my parents chose for my sister and I.  

This was a link up for the Expat to Expat: 
Q&A with Bailie and Belinda

P O S T S  BY  K I M

M A K E   F R I E N D S   &   F O L L O W   K I M !

*photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved | 

Expat to Expat Q&A: 09/13

Question from Belinda: How do you fit in to your new culture without losing some of your identity? 
This is a really interesting question for me to answer because I did not simply leave one culture/country to enter another one.  In fact I became an ex-pat into the country I was born into as a child.  Technically I am a UK citizen and have been since I was born.  Technically I am also American, with American parents, who spent ten years of her adult life actually living in America until embarking on my ex-pat life.  As a Third Culture Kid I will constantly be stuck in the ‘Neither / Nor’ category of life where I immerse myself in these different social groups, countries, and cultures while never fully being in one. 
With that said I can now try to answer the question the best that I can.  I am a chameleon soul. The type of TCK that I am when I am around someone or in a certain culture I start soaking up customs, mannerisms, expressions.  A good example would be how I realised recently I start talking like my expat friend here who is also American.  She has expressions that are from both cultures however I know when I say something that I have heard her say and I only speak that way when I am around her. Back at home with my husband and those words do not just come out without me consciously thinking about it.  My identity is made up of every country and culture I have spent a significant period of time in, especially during my developmental years growing up in Europe around military bases. My way to keep true to my chameleon soul and the heart of who I am is to just be me. Which means staying authentic. My words, my feelings, my heart and soul are the pieces that make up who I am and as long as I can share that freely with the world I will not lose myself entirely.

A family meet up in Cambodia. We will meet up anywhere in the world, since we do not have a ‘home’. 
Question from Bailie: What do you think your biggest trigger for homesickness is?
The hard part of not having a ‘set home’ or being from one place specifically is that my triggers for homesickness can really come from anywhere at anytime.  Sometimes homesickness can make me sad, sometimes nostalgic for wanting to go back, and sometimes it can make full out sob in tears.  I got homesick from watching a friend’s blog video about being in the Alps in Austria. This place holds a special place in my heart because we use to visit this area and go snowboarding with my family during the eight years that we spent in Germany and Italy.  If I had to choose a ‘home’ it might be somewhere where I felt closest to the memory of my dad and any place in the mountains of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland will be able to do that for me. I cried watching this sweet happy video that had cute music playing along with it.  I was not just sad because I missed my dad, I missed that place, and I wanted so bad to just go back there. It was not about returning to a place I traveled to as a traveler it is about returning to a place that holds my heart and might as well have been my surrogate home.  I get homesick thinking about Austria and elements like germknödel.  Something I talk about lot on this blog, and have not eaten in over a decade.  I was probably sixteen the last time I had this sweet austrian dumpling covered in custard from an mountain lodge in the Alps. It is something I crave and can not get easily.
Just One day left for the Giveaway!

Expat to Expat Q&A: The Basics of Day to Day

It is time for the next month’s installment of Expat to Expat: Q&A with Belinda and Bailie.
Every month they put together a series of questions for expats to answer from around the world.
Have a question? Make sure to contact them with your ideas for next month! 

1. What is your favorite food store in your city and why?
I like both Sainsburys and Morrisons. We get our groceries delivered to the house from Sainsburys. Food shopping has never been easier now that my husband can order from his phone and it gets delivered straight to our door. 

2. For your answer to number 1 is it ok to buy the store brand items or do you pay extra for a name brand? 

Yes the store brand items are great from both stores. Morrisons has a great pesto that has natural ingredients in comparison to the name brand and costs way less. 
3. What do you think is the best way to get about your city? i.e. bus, bike, car, etc
We do not have a car and so we get around most by walking. When needed we take the bus, unless its the four of us and then we will take a taxi since it is cheaper. My husband will ride his bicycle occasionally to and from work. I think all forms of transportation work well in Bath, England however there is limited parking if you are driving by car.

4. Which store do you turn to for basics like toilet paper or cleaning supplies?
Again this would be Sainsburys since we get all our food and basic supplies delivered from their store in town. When we run out of something that we need urgently I will pop down to the convenience store on our high street.

5. Where do you think is the best place in your city to get a cup of coffee (or beverage you prefer) and catch up with friends? 

 There are so many great places in Bath and the surrounding towns for tea or coffee with friends. I recently took my mum to the Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre. I recommend trying the Jane Austen blend if you come to Bath to visit.

6. What was your “eureka, I’m practically a native” moment?
I was born in Oxford and I lived in Norfolk later on for a few years as a young girl. When we moved back to England as expats in 2011 it had been about seventeen years since I had last stepped foot in the UK. So despite the fact that I am a dual citizen I moved here not knowing all what to expect our life to be like living here. I could not explain fully how wonderful it was for me to go eat out and see beans on toast on the menu. This has been one of my comfort foods all my life, and I used to be questioned strangely or made fun of by americans when I was living in the US. Then I realized everywhere that sold jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) also offered them with beans on top. I thought that was a ‘bonnie-ism’ and realized that it was just part of my culture from growing up in England. That was the moment I realized I was finally ‘at home’. For a highly nomadic person as myself, a third culture kid, who often wonders where ‘home’ would be that was a huge Eureka moment. 

7. Does your real accent get in the way?
Yes it can sometimes. I think about it a lot when I am out of the house. I am aware of how the American accent stands out and I will not speak out about bad service because of my accent. Now a days I use a lot of the english Vocabulary or pronounce things they way they are spoken here without having to think about it first. Which really helps out though I still have a strong american accent. It just takes time to assimilate to the language and accent. The store I mentioned above, Sainsbury’s, you pronounce it without ‘u’ so that it sounds like Sainsbrys. I realized upon talking with a fellow expat friend that people here will not correct you if you say it wrong. I had been saying that store name wrong for a year and a half. So perhaps my accent does not get in the way that much. However when meeting new people, they will get fixated on my accent and want to know an exact place my accent is from which has on easy answer if an answer at all. So I do wish that one day I will have such a soften accent that I can talk to people without it being an issue.

I am happy to introduce you today to my featured sponsor 
for the month of August, Gillian from Gladley.  
She is also an expat, but a Brit living in the USA.
Recommended Posts by Gillian:
Be Friends with Gillian: Bloglovin’ | Twitter | Instagram

*photographs original to A Compass Rose blog

Expat to Expat Q&A: Travel

This is the third installment of Expat to Expat Q&A: T r a v e l 
Check out the first and second installment in the series

1. Which airport would you like to never see again?
To be honest from all the flying that I have ever done since I was born, I have not really any horrific flying stories. As third culture kids, we say we feel more at home in an airport than we do in a certain location. If I was to choose an airport I would never like to see again, it would have to be tied to the location for my reasoning. The airport in St. Louis would then be a winner. It is the closest airport to my in laws. Actually on that note I would never like to see the bus station near their town again. The last time I left the states to come to England I again left my sons with my in laws, for them to return shortly once either Ryan or I had found a job. This was in October of last year during a transitional period where my husband had just finished his masters programme and we planning to move for his job. History with my in laws aside, having to leave the country without your kids is the most gut wrenching thing I have had to do. This would be the third time and no it does not get easier. I got on the bus and my eldest just cried so hard and tried to get on the bus and go with me. It really kicked you where it hurts. When the bus drove away the bus driver was crying her eyes out too. She told me later in the journey, after I was able to control my emotions enough to speak, that in all her years of driving that was the saddest goodbye she has ever witnessed. So yeah…I would never want to see that bus station again either.   

Side note: Yes I took this photo of my self crying with my phone while the bus made its way to Chicago.  I take photographs all the time to help me remember people, places, and moments.  I captured this memory to remember how much I never want to leave my kids with family members again.  I have friends who have yet to have their children even spend a night away from them still.  My kids have spent months at a time away from me and if you want to know how much it hurts look at that photo.

2. What is your travel nightmare?
Honestly unless it has happened while I was with my parents and they just did not let on that something was wrong I have not experienced a real travel nightmare. *knock on wood* There was the time that I was flying back from my return trip ‘home’ to Italy after my senior year and I got stuck in Zurich, Switzerland. I was flying alone and was a little concerned at first until the airlines let me know they would be putting me up in a hotel and paying for my food costs. It ended up being an extra day of gifted vacation. I called my parents from the hotel and then I went out to explore the town, had dinner, saw a movie, and returned to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep. It could have been a nightmare to be stuck inside an airport for hours, but it ended becoming a dream. 

3. Would your rather stay in a fancy hotel and do less activities or stay in a hostel and do more activities?
I will say that if someone else was paying for it and I got to stay at a super lush hotel and just be pampered that I do not think I would say no. However when I plan my trips and go places I am not really concerned about the hotel. I would not want to pay more money to have less to experience the country or culture with when I got there. I can see a hotel room in any country. Maybe I do not stay in a hostel though, maybe I find a friend to stay with, or a great deal with AirB&B. I stayed on the floor on a mat in a church in Thailand with only cold showers, in stead of a hotel with a bed and hot water. I also do not have the urge to go on a cruise or to travel in a tour group. I’m more about organic traveling and trying to blend in with the locals. 

Does it have wifi? Then I am all set!  On a vacation with my sister (pictured here),
she gets connected with her laptop in the hotel room. 

4. Do you have any pre-travel rituals?
Almost always wait till the day before to pack and then pack hours before we need to leave for the airport. I say I will be more prepared a head of time, but to be fair that never happens. Usually the things I am bringing with me I use normally anyways so I just wait until the last possible moment to do it. With that said, I hardly ever forget to pack something for a trip. If anything I may have stuff I should have left home, but have ‘just in case’. Luckily I am pretty stellar with packing a suitcase or a car to get everything to fit. It is like excelling at traveler’s Tetris. I have actually repacked a car after my father in law attempted to do it on several occasions.  When you have traveled and moved as much as my family has it becomes a much needed skill.  If I am going to be going to a different time zone I like to start preparing myself a few days before by slowly changing my sleep schedule and eating a lot of small meals through out the day. 

5. What is your favorite airline to fly with?
Before we moved back to England, British Airways was always my favourite because it meant I was coming back to Europe. Right now I’m certain I have a favourite airline per se. Which ever one is getting me to my destination for the best price. I am pretty stoked to have such great budget airline options in Europe. I just know to prepare by having my tickets pre printed and making sure my luggage and carry on fit their regulations. They are ready to charge anyone at any time for not following the guidelines.  British Airways were passing out cute ginger bread men biscuits over Christmas. So when I picked my boys and my mum up from the Airport last year we made sure to take a few of these guys (pictured below) home with us. 

6. If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
There are so many places and honestly I could write blog posts for weeks about all the places I want to go to and why. However I am really hoping that the next plane I get on is going to be taking my family and I to southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. That whole bavaria area hold so much of my heart and memories from growing up. It reminds me of my dad and I know there will be tears shed while there, thinking of him and wishing he was alive to be there with us. I could easily go in the summer for camping and hiking, in the fall for Oktoberfests, or in the winter for snowboarding and germknödel. I just want to go and show this area with my family.

7. How do survive long haul flights?
It depends am I traveling with kids? Honestly if I am not traveling with kids on theses then it feels a lot more relaxed and I have to bring a lot less with me to be prepared. I love flying. I have done long flights between California and Japan on my way to Australia, Thailand and Cambodia several times, the flight between the US and England several times, and even the flight between California and Hawaii. It depends on when we are arriving but I try to my best to time it so that I can attempt sleep as soon as we take off. There is something about closing your eyes as you are rushing into the sky that helps me sleep. So eye mask on and maybe some soothing tunes and I will talk to you in a few hours. When I wake up its time for the first huge meal and thats when I start watching films. I will also have my laptop ready to work on editing photographs in lightroom and photoshop for work. There will be a book and a magazine in my bag depending on how focused I am to reading. Maybe some paper to write out ideas that come to my head. I am not going to be bored. The other tricks are trying to get up often to move my legs, drinking plenty of water, and keeping my face and lips moisturized. If I am traveling with my kids I make sure they are equally prepared because if anyone is going to be saying ‘I’m bored’ it is going to be kids. I usually hijack their nintendo DS weeks before the trip so its something exciting to have back and pack surprises for them. I make sure they are eating something during take off and landing to help their ears pop. Other than that we just sit back and relaxed.

8. What is your favorite stamp in your passport and why?
I honestly do not have one stamp in my current passport. I have several old passports from the one I had as a baby that are filled with stamps. I keep going through airports where they dont stamp my passport. Or because I am flying between countries for which I have passports. I have to fly into America and out of America on my American passport and I have to fly into England and out of England on my EU British passport. However on my older passport I would have to say my whole visa and stamps from Cambodia are probably my favourite. It was the most nervous and excited I have been in an airport. I had been in Thailand twice already at this point and was flying to Cambodia to meet my mum, dad, and sister who had been backpacking around South East Asia together. I remember how beautiful Cambodia looked from the airplane. When I got off the airplane they had us walk into this room where there was a u shaped table of tons of officials and your passport went around to each one as they all looked at it. When I finally got the all clear to go in I remember letting out a deep breath and rushing with excitement to see my family. It was a great trip and I would love to return.

Questions from Lisa at Meanderings, Adventures & Crafty Inspirations

1. What are your top 3 necessary items for travel?

A DSLR Camera with lenses.  If I want to travel light I like to bring my favourite prime lens, a 50mm, for portraits and then choose a zoom lens to bring as well.  The 17-35 has been a fun one to travel with and I found more useful then say a 70-300 lens. 

My phone for taking quick shots and getting online to stay connected. 

A camera bag perfect for traveling that I can keep it all in for my trip.

2. What is your off the beaten track trip in your current home?

I currently live in Bath, England and I say do not get car. Come ready to use the trains, buses, and do walking. Sometimes for us if we want to go to a nearby town and then walk home, it is cheaper to take a taxi for my family of four, then to take the bus/train to the town first. So research what works best in your options. Go and explore. We go on country walks nearly every weekend and sometimes twice a weekend to just roam the countrysides. We love to find new towns and new trails to take. These are public footpaths in England that are hundreds of years old and you can walk anywhere. Back your walking shoes or wellies and get ready to really see England after or before doing the normal touristy things in the area.
Do check out my other posts for the Expat to Expat Q&A
Found Love.  Now What?
If you are a past, current or future expat this linkup is for you! 
Linking with Bailie and Belinda…because girls with ‘B’ names rock. 
Not that I am biased or anything. 😉

Expat to Expat Q&A: Food

This is the second installment of Expat to Expat 
on the Q&A: Food
1. What is your favorite food tradition in your new country?  

The ‘Sunday Roast’ of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and sometimes stuffing. It like a less grand version of  Christmas dinner and my favourite thing to eat at the pub on a Sunday with my family. 

2. Where have you traveled to that you thought had the best food to offer?

Italy. Honestly I will nicely kick and scream before I have to eat Italian food in the USA because it 99.9% fails in comparison.  What I love about the food in Italy is that it is as diverse as its dialects so for example pizzas in Florence are like a cracker crust, pizzas in the birth place of Naples practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the food I have eaten in Italy (away from the touristy trap restaurants of course. Stay away from these as you will not only be over charged but it less quality) is made of simple but great ingredients.  Italian food in the US always seems to have to have something crazy with it like giant meatballs or chicken, crazy cream sauces, or covered in cheeses.  To be fair the best food and house wine I have had in many places in Italy has been in small hole in the wall restaurants or places where the locals frequent.  Plus any country that boasts gelaterias that carry a multitude of gelato flavours is great in my book!  

3. What is the typical breakfast where you currently live and would you eat it back home?

For my kids it is porridge made from porridge oats and with a little honey and cinnamon typically.  I actually grew up on this breakfast staple as well.  Here in England the typical breakfast is the traditional ‘Full English’ or a ‘Full Monty’.  This includes back bacon, poached or fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter, sausages, baked beans, and a mug of tea.  If you are extra lucky your breakfast will include my favourite black pudding, which is a blood sausage, or bubble and squeak. Bubble and squeak is made by mixing mashed potatoes with any left over vegetables and fried.  I have to add that the bacon in England is not like the bacon you get back in the US. In the US it is thin strips and sometimes if it is on your plate it is more of a taste factor and less of a ‘fill you up’ factor.  Here the cut of bacon is thick like a slice of ham at Easter and the taste puts American bacon to shame. 

4. What type of restaurant, either style or type of food, do you think is lacking in your new home?

Mexican. By mexican, I mean the type of mexican food that can be found in San Diego, California where the taco shells do not resemble the ‘El Paso’ store bought brand but the home made round tortillas.  Also boasting very spicy options. Mexican restaurants are very few here and the one we went too looked like it was catering to Americans who needed a break from only ordering fish and chips at every meal. 

5. Do you think your home expat home has a food everyone should try?

Not a particular food, but that you must go to a curry house, a typical Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant or takeway. Their menus can be quite extensive, so feel free to try something new every time.  They are to England what mexican restaurants are to the USA.  It was actually one of the things I was most looking forward too before we moved to England. Perfect for those nights that you do not want to cook. 

Actually now that I think of it I think everyone should try Cassava, it is a large white root and large source of carbohydrates. If not cooked and eaten it is highly toxic. If cooked it tastes amazing and is a perfect alternative to a white potato.  It is one of my favourites!

6. What is your favorite dish to prepare that you would never have made back home?

Being that I have always moved and have not had a ‘home’ per se I do not know how to quite answer this question as an expat normally would.  However from an eating stand point, blood sausage is something both my husband and I thought was initially gross. I remember seeing this before and in other countries, like Germany, growing up in Europe.  However we have both had it here and have cooked it here for our breakfast at home and we love it.  Referred here as Black pudding, it is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.  It sounds revolting to me, however the way it looks prepared and the way it tastes, I would never had known thats what I was eating.  It is so tasty and a favourite with my sons as well. 

Also I have always loved ‘Beans on Toast’ which is not like american baked beans, but the English Heinz beans.  It is a favourite dish that is hard to prepare in the US because I have to find an British shop of imports.  Here it is a great staple especially for my boys’ tea. 

7. What is the oddest food in your new country?

In the neighbouring country of Scotland of the UK, I still find haggis to be quite odd.  Then again I have never tried it. Marmite is quite odd, but it is loved at home house on buttered crumpets or toast. 

8. If you could have a crate of one type of food sent to you from your home country, what would it be?

Hawaii and the food from the shrimp truck up in North Shore. 

9. What three foods remind you of summer?
Since we lived in Hawaii, which was like summer year round, these are the three foods that remind me of Summer:

  • Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Though a soup, we ate this sometimes twice a week in Hawaii. It was also perfect cure all.
  • Fro Yo.  These were all over Hawaii and still popping up new chains while we were on the island.  I loved ordering the plain yogurt flavour and topping it with fruit, granola, and some mini chocolate chips.
  • Shaved Ice.  Especially the kind found in Hawaii that is not icy at all, but almost like eating finally grained snow.  You can get it there over beans and covered in condensed milk. 
10. What food from your new country are you surprised to enjoy?

Meat.  In California and Hawaii where my husband and I lived before we ate a lot of vegetarian or vegan options. I liked meat, but was not crazy about it.  When you read about how food is processed in the US, it really does not make you want to eat that much of it.  When we moved to England my husband, who already loves to cook, was really enjoying the ingredients he could find just at our grocery store or local butchers.  We now eat mainly paleo which is mostly protein/meat and vegetables.  I’ve probably eaten more meat in the two years we have lived in England than any two years in the last ten years I lived in the US. That surprises me and I’m still surprised how much I enjoy the way the meat here tastes.  Theres something to say about the ingredients you can get and how it can make or break a meal. 

Bonus:  Where was your favorite place you ever took a summer vacation to?

I did a vacation with my parents where we toured all over Europe using the trains.  One of our many destinations was Oslo, Norway and it still stick out in my mind as one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been too in my life.  I remember getting of the train and stopping at a scenic restaurant outside to enjoy strawberries and sparkling water and loving our destination. I really look forward to returning there soon with my husband and sons. 

Found Love.  Now What?

Read the First Installment: ‘Weather