Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Expat Tips

One of my best friends in the world is moving to Rome next spring. I'm so excited for her to be an expat! She will see a different side to travel than ever before. We met while working on cruise ships the summer of 2001. Christy, of The Departure Diaries, has been to 46 different countries and is by far the most seasoned traveler I know. Here is a little bit more about Christy:

"Hi. I'm Christy. I joined the crew of a Cruise Ship on my 21st birthday and that simple decision changed my life. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on boats, the ocean, photography and travel. These days I work on land as a Corporate Video Editor in order to pay for my travel addiction. My goal isn’t to visit every place on earth; I just don’t ever want to stop exploring.

Country Count: 46. Continents: 5.

Oh, and I’m moving to Rome in T-Minus 11 months. (April 2013.)"

Christy is planning her trip now and has a long list of to-do's waiting. I'm helping her along the way. I made a lot of mistakes when I came abroad and I'm hoping to save Christy the hassle. Each Wednesday Christy and I will be going over different aspects of moving--and living--abroad and the preparation it takes to make such a move. How is it done anyway? You are welcome to join us!

Stay tuned for more on my experiences and Christy's preparations with this new feature, The Departure Lounge! If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover please leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

10 Things to Love and Dislike Living in Scotland

I've been living in Scotland for over 4 yrs now. Time has flown by. With everything, there is good and bad and living in Scotland is no different. There is so much to love about living abroad but also much to get used to. I feel I can make a list of the pros and cons of living in Scotland.

EDIT: This post is from my point of view--an American in Scotland. It is meant just for fun. I hope you'll see it that way!

10 things I love about living in Scotland:
  1. The Scots average 4-6 weeks of paid vacation per year. They work to live not live to work. Everybody needs a good rest to perform at their best. The British are doing it right guys!
  2. Public transportation is amazing. I live a few blocks from our train station and I can easily pop into the city. I love this. Our bus system is also terrific. Everything is available to get to via public transportation. Coming from a country that doesn't have it readily available unless you live in a big city this is a big win for me.
  3. National Health Care. There, I said it. We've been blessed to have our medical needs met at minimal cost. We love our Dr and have only good things to say about the NHS {so far...}.
  4. Historical buildings cover this country. They don't tear anything down. It is preserved. The Scots have a powerful sense of self. They know where they came from and it is important to not forget. Not to mention that makes for pretty scenery! I love old buildings.
  5. I love sausage rolls! The sausage is wrapped in a buttery flakey pastry that melts in your mouth. America, you need to get on board with this.
  6. Travel is cheap. It better be since we have all those vacation days to use! Because we are so close to mainland Europe there are always a plethora of flights available on the cheap. We flew to Paris for 4p (7 cents). No hidden taxes or charges. We also flew to Spain for £20 ($32). Love that!
  7. We have castles!! Real castles! 
  8. It is beautiful here. It is so green and almost fairytale-ish at times. 
  9. The weather. We stay pretty mild. Not too cold and not too hot.
  10. Deep Fried Haggis. Give me all of it! YUM!
10 things I dislike about living in Scotland:
  1. The weather. While the amount of rain really isn't the problem, the lack of sunshine is. When you aren't used to one day of sunshine per month your body goes through a physical shock. A lot of expats experience seasonal affective disorder. It's taken a long time to get used to.
  2. Lack of family and friends close by. This is an obvious one but still. When you move abroad you are the one that needs to keep relationships going. You'd be surprised how much too.
  3. Convenience is a thing of the past. Stores close early, tumble dryer's take forever, and not having a car makes quick trips a things of the past. 
  4. The weather. I'm adding this one again for emphasis. I don't care if you love the cold, rain and fog. It will be an adjustment. It is different than anything you've experienced before.
  5. Cultural differences are hard to get used to. You find yourself always having to change to accommodate your new country and the people in it. You must or you couldn't function in another country. It is hard to change the way you've always done things and see things a different way. This is also an adjustment period.
  6. Real estate is expensive. Not to mention the size of property you get is...let's just say miniature.
  7. The NHS. This one is on both lists. There is always a waiting list. For everything.
  8. Everything is smaller here. The flats, cars, washing machine, and even our refrigerator!
  9. Petrol (gas) is $10 a gallon. This is why public transport is a must. 
  10. Lack of Mexican food. I guess they're too far from 'the border' to know what it is. This is a travesty. 
{You can see more Things to Love and Dislike posts here}