Monday, 21 July 2014

5 Common Expat Mistakes

I've been living in Scotland for 6 and a half years. When I moved here there weren't blogs or books to read on moving to Scotland. I didn't know anyone who had moved abroad and so I learned everything the hard way. These are mistakes I have made myself but also I have seen expats make these mistakes time and time again. I want to help you be a little more prepared than I was. I don't want your transition to be as rocky as mine was. If I was to make this move for the first time (knowing what I know now) these are the first things I would do differently.

1. Not Doing Enough Research. You should be researching everything about your new country. No question is too small. No question is to silly. No  question is stupid. It might be to the people who know the answers but they know them because they've lived it. Go ahead and ask. No aspect of your research is too small. I've seen expats come and go here in Scotland that are fined for not paying council taxes and for not having a TV license. Why? They didn't even know about them. Research the customs in your new country as well as the everyday things. Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power. Especially when you move abroad.

2. Unrealistic Expectations. It goes without saying (I hope) that you will be excited about your move abroad. Who wouldn't be?! What an exciting adventure! Until you get here and you relize that living abroad is very different from visiting on holiday. Be aware that it takes several months to start feeling more comfortable. I didn't say at ease or even comfortable. Just more comfortable than when you arrived. Everything will be much different than you pictured. There is a period of time you need to give yourself to come to terms with your new life.

3. Getting bored. Seriously. This happens. Before I moved here I had an Eat Pray Love experience pictured in my head. What I got was sitting in my pj's and watching TV for most of my first year. Really. Make yourself a list of things to do and things to see. Slowly check off items on your list. Make sure you keep yourself busy. Give yourself something to do.

4. Comparing Cultures. This is one of my pet peeves after living in Scotland for 6+ years. I absolutely hate it when expats move here and all they seem to do is compare their new life to their old one. They can't help it. Everything is different. But instead of using the word different they use the word weird. I don't like that word. It's just different that's all. Most expats come over here expecting to have an American experience in Scotland. They want the feelings/experiences you get on holiday. Sure you can have that but it's just going to be different because you live here. You aren't on a break from your life back home, you are living it. Stop comparing and embrace the differences. Can't find your favourite ingredient? Try a new dish with ingredients from your new country. You're going to have to live a little differently because you are indeed living in a different country. Stop comparing. Move on. Embrace the differences.

5. Restricting your social interactions with expats only. I'll go the other way too and say restricting yourself to socializing only with people from your chosen country isn't a good idea either. You need a balance. It's nice to have a few friends from your home country to converse with and know they understand what you're talking about but also it is important to make new friends and you never know, that kindred spirit could be just around the corner. You've just not opened yourself up.

There are oh so many mistakes expats make when they arrive in their new country and I'll be sharing more of those in the coming weeks. If you're an expat what is one mistake you made?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Wild Dolphins

Last week Sebastian and I met a nice older man in the library elevator and he asked if we'd seen the dolphins yet. No, we haven't. I've been trying to catch a glimpse of the Aberdeen wildlife for months! He told us that the dolphins were out at Torry Battery {Aberdeen Harbour} and had been showing off for the last several days and that we should go see them. So we did!

Friday morning we headed out and sat on the cliff and waited {and waited} for the dolphins to appear. We sat and played with Sebastian and enjoyed all the amazing sunshine that was out. There were a few small groups of people waiting with us. Some with lots of camera equipment, some were just out relaxing and waiting. The It was an all together nice wait. I had brought a small picnic and toys for Sebastian and so we had a good time.

We had been waiting for almost two hours when I finally saw something. I put my camera on zoom and looked out and then there they were! Splashing and playing around. It was really something to see. Take a look!

^^yes. THAT is a puffin!

Most of our photos of the dolphins came out as just splashes. They are extremely hard to photograph. Add these wild dolphins to the list of many reasons why we love living in Aberdeen!

Monday, 14 July 2014

This is Crovie, Aberdeenshire

This weekend we had the most brilliant weather. It was literally scorching! Luis was off work on Friday so we decided to check out an old fishing village. The whole drive was on country roads. Sheep and cows dot the countryside as well as crumbling ruins of I'm sure were once cottages or old farm buildings. We caught glimpses of the North Sea on our way.

Crovie is unique. The shelf is so narrow there is only room for the cottages and a small foot path. There is a fantastic view point at the top of the cliffs that took my breath away. The peace and quiet that surrounded this village was amazing and I can't wait to go back.

We wanted a closer look so we walked down the path and a set of steep steps to get down to the village. We found a group of kids kicking a ball around and every cottage had wet suits hanging from their clothes line. We saw children climbing on a large boulder, barefoot, and then sat back on the rock and pulled out their book from their back pocket and started to read. There were more kids and parents hanging out of the dock and getting into the water.

A cute older couple stopped us to chat for a bit and I asked them if the water came right up to the path and she said it did. She told me there was a big gale the other day and the waves were crashing on her roof! Then she said, "It makes this an interesting place to live." I now have a desire to stay here for a week to experience such a thing.

There was a storm surge here in 1953 that was so large it washed away the path leading to the other side of the bay into Gardenstown. The damage to the fishing industry was so great most of the people living here just packed up and moved across the bay--leaving Crovie one of the most well preserved fishing villages in Europe. The cottages here mostly make up holiday rentals now. I am itching to stay here!

What do you think? Would you stay here during a storm?

Friday, 4 July 2014

I'm on the BBC today!

Hello friends! Happy Independence Day! Eat lots of corn on the cobb and something full of cool whip for me will you? We are headed to a BBQ tonight with some of our American friends but it is supposed to be raining (shocker!) so we'll see how the festivities go. Today I'm on the BBC! Stop by and see how 7 Americans living in Scotland are celebrating at home and abroad.

On that note, we finally submitted Sebastian's application for British Citizenship. The paperwork has been filed and our bank account is a lot lighter but it will be worth it. Dual citizenship is a gift we are fortunate to give our son. Fingers crossed all goes well.

Sebastian met with his new Nursery School last week. He'll start mid August and we are very excited. He's going to a main stream school and I am concerned how he will do. We're hoping that the staff will be sensitive to our autism spectrum needs but also push him to succeed in a normal environment. Sebastian was very excited to be at the school and I think he's going to do well. He's no where near speaking at a 3.5 yr level but he is improving. We are seeing progress and hoping that this school term will help him a lot in that area.

I started some medication for my Fibromyalgia and am so happy to report that I'm feeling much better. I'm sleeping better, my pain feels mostly manageable and I even feel clearer. I'm actually surprised at how much better I feel. I'm not 100% but anything is better than where I was before.

We have plenty of picnics to go to this weekend and I'm most looking forward to not having to cook. Sebastian and I are signing up for the summer reading challenge and going on a wild dolphin hunt too!

Check out some things I found interesting this week::

+ A password to change your life? I love it!

+ I need one of these in my house. ASAP.

+ Outrageous Patriotic outfits

+ How Are American's Celebrating the 4th of July in Scotland?

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Montbard Crystal + Giveaway

I don't share a lot of products with you here on this blog but today I have something very special that I think you'll really like. This post even comes with a giveaway and a promo code for 10% off! Lucky you!

I don't know if you know this but the Scots like to drink. Keeps their bones warm in this cold wet climate. May was National Whisky Month. I missed it. Probably because I don't drink. But we're moving right along with this post because I think you will like what I've got for you. While I don't drink I do have a thing for quality beautiful crystal.

Aren't they gorgeous!? I can tell you that the photo doesn't do them justice. They are such a good weight and the Scottish Flower etched in the design shines in real life. These are perfect for enjoying a night inside by the fire with your favourite people.

I often get emails about where to find authentic Scottish gifts. I know most of what's out there is cheap and overly produced so you aren't getting something truly unique. Montbard only makes a limited collection of these tumblers and they are something you would be proud to give away as a gift or to use yourself. I love them and can't wait to get my dad a set for Christmas!

I'm going to let Montbard tell you more about their Flower of Scotland tumblers::

"These luxurious and massive whisky tumblers are divided into five facets, each with a deeply cut Scottish Thistle flower between two Saint Andrew's crosses adorned with delicately cut lace, and their impressive massive bottoms feature ten deep cuts. Classic double old fashioned shape. The set comes in a solid and elegant satin-lined presentation box. A perfect gift and memento of a great year for Scotland and all of us Scots worldwide.

Each glass is hand picked, thoroughly inspected and hand-polished before it is laid in the presentation box and packed in highly protective packaging."

It is a special day because Montbard is giving away one set of these gorgeous Flower of Scotland tumblers to a lucky reader! And here is even a promo code for 10% off: mylifeinscotland

This giveaway is worldwide.

ps. I received my own set of tumblers from Montbard as well and I love them! All in the name of disclosure!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Looking for Adventure

Yo! Luis was off all last week and it was good. Real good. We had good weather and good family time. We spent all morning in our pyjama's and I took a nap everyday. What is it about afternoon naps anyway? They are so rejuvenating and I was literally part of my bed. I can't tell you how much I needed it. I'm really going to miss those naps this week.

We took off on Thursday for a little family adventure. We hopped in the car with no destination in mind, we just drove. The sun was shining for most of the day and we had the windows rolled down. Whether it was the salty sea air or the smell of sweet grass and flowers, the air smelled amazing. For the most part we stayed along the coastline--passing sheep and highland cows along the way. I just can't get enough of the North Sea. We were driving up by Cruden Bay where the coastline is all rocky and glorious. The water is this beautiful shade of clear aqua and I was practically willing a little puffin to make an appearance.

We first pulled over in Stirling Village at Buchan Ness Lighthouse {aka Boddam Lighthouse}. Isn't it charming?! I think it's the red stripe. It is the easterly most point in Scotland. A bit of useless trivia for you. On the rocks in the distance were seagulls by the masses. I imagine they were just enjoying the sunshine and being with their friends. It looked like a hangout spot or something. The air smelled sweet and salty all at once.

As we were driving I told Luis about an old ruined castle I was sure was in the area. Luis turned onto an obscure road and in the distance was Slain's Castle. Doesn't it look creepy?! Legend says that author Bram Stoker stayed a night here and used this castle as inspiration for his novel Dracula.

The long road to the castle is paved with broken seashells. I can't help but wonder how old they are! It added to the eerie vibe of the place.

When we finally got to the castle there were signs everywhere to keep out. It wasn't safe anymore to go inside. I'd read that people have plummeted to their deaths off the cliff's the castle sits on. I stayed safely on the outside of the castle but around every corner I felt a story brewing. Tales of forbidden love, corrupt priests and ghosts roaming the halls. Oh and the dresses. I could see the dresses in all their glory. Yards and yards of silk and lace. This castle has so much drama. I could feel it.


Along this rocky coastline are several sea caves where the seal and puffin seek refuge from the wild sea. They make their home here during the summer months. The next nice weekend will have us seeking out those caves I assure you!

^^We took a walk on the sandy beach of Cruden Bay. The village is quaint and I think I need to spend more time here. Bram Stoker later used this very village as the setting for The Mystery of the Sea. It is also the setting for The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley which I have heard is very good. I think I'm going to need to read these books.

The day was a success and I'm looking forward to the next!

The end.