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.

*In the UK, a TV licence is an annual tax that must be paid by any household that uses a TV to watch or record TV shows as they are being broadcast. The revenues are used to fund the BBC.

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?

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?