Friday, 22 July 2011

Guest Post Swap

Today I'm taking a break from my normal blogging to participate in something much more light hearted and fun. The lovely ladies over at BritMums have put together a guest post swap and I decided to take part. They have matched me with Erin from American Mom in England. So today she will be blogging here, and I will be blogging over there.

Hello, all! I’m Erin from American Mom in England and I’m going to sharing some of my experiences as an expat with you today.

Both Finding My New Normal and I signed up for a blog post swap through BritMums and amazingly we were matched up. I’m still slightly in shock that two Americans managed to be paired together. Needless to say as I share my experience living in England with you all here, Finding My New Normal will be sharing some of hers over on my blog.

I know the title of this blog wasn’t designed to apply to expat life, but in so many ways it does.

I’m American, my husband is British and our son is both. We met in the US. We got married in the US. We had our son in the US. Then when he was six months old we brought him over to England for Christmas to meet his British relatives. My husband who is a college lecturer applied for a couple of jobs while we were here for the holidays. He got one of them and shortly after the New Year I found myself flying back with just my son for company.

Next begin the UK spousal visa process and tying up loose ends. On March 28, 2007 we arrived back in the UK as residents. Initially it was a rather steep learning curve. We stayed with my husband’s parents while we searched for a house to buy. I met the local health visitor and a couple of other local Mums, but the differences were just too much to handle. Relatively new baby and new country did not mix well. I suspect it would have been different if the boy had been born over here, but I’ll never really know.

On May 13, 2007 the boy and I flew back to the US to stay with my parents. Although we had found a house to buy in the UK, the chain of buyers and sellers was hung up and not moving. I was having a very hard time coping and flying ‘home’ to Oregon seemed like the best option. The year that followed was rough. Hubby visited us as often as he could, but it’s not the same. My parents loved having us stay with them, but after awhile that started to become difficult as well. Sometime during the next couple of months we made the decision not to buy the little house we’d been waiting on.

Almost one year after we left the UK we arrived back again ready to have a second attempt at life on this side of the Atlantic. While staying with Hubby’s parents from May until we finally found a house to rent in October wasn’t easy, it was okay. We were all together and that was the most important thing. Thankfully we stuck it out and I’ve gradually found my footing here. I learned how to get around and where to buy this or that. I helped run a Netmums meetups group for local Mums. I began to feel a little more at ease.

About the time we moved into the little terraced house we rented, the property market in the UK began its downward spiral. In some ways we are very lucky we didn’t buy the little house we’d originally had our eye on. We eventually found a rather spacious 4 bedroom semi-detached house that’s now our home. I think we’re much happier having an office, a music room, a guest bedroom and a huge back garden (backyard) than we would have been in the other little house.

I gradually learned what normal was with regards to children in the UK. Nursery or Pre-School at 3, all day Reception class at 4, Year one at 5. In many ways this knowledge only illustrated how my little one is not like the typical British child. He’s just finished his year in Reception and he reads 4 to 5 years above his age. He’s on the gifted and talented register for reading/phonics, mathematics (I still can’t call it Maths without cringing) and his artwork. We’ve raised a capable independent little 5 year-old, which makes me proud as a parent who struggled living in this country when he was young.

This past year our life changed a bit more. We’ve lived here long enough that I was finally able to go to university here and pay the (much lower) home student fees. Last October I began studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. I think being a student again at this stage in my life would be a little difficult in either country. I know my course mates had a hard time accepting that a) I had a husband and a little boy and b) that I wasn’t their age. I suppose though, that at 18 I would have had a hard time relating to someone 11 years older than me too.

Anyways, if you ever have the chance to live abroad take it! (As long as you don’t have a child less than a year old – which makes it very, very challenging.) I’ve discovered things about myself that I never would have learned had we stayed in the US. Even though we tentatively plan on returning stateside once our son finishes primary school, part of me is beginning to believe that we’ll be too settled here by then to pick up and leave.

If you’d like to read about more of my life as an American Mom in England feel free to stop by my blog. (It’s where you’ll find Finding My New Normal’s expat story!) You can also contact me on twitter: @silentbeauty! I hope you all have a lovely Friday!


  1. I would loooove to go live abroad. My husband's workplace sends employees on long term assignments, and one of the places they send ppl is Scotland. The average contract there is 3 years, and I would be so excited to go there! He signed up for an opening but he hasn't gotten any word back. I'm still hoping that we may be able to go someday :)

  2. Happy ICLW! I am really glad to have had a chance to read this! I would love to have an opportunity to live abroad, and when my husband was in the Navy, I tried to get him to put in for Italy as his duty station, but he wanted to stay state side. I am glad that I got to read two blogs from this one. It really opend my eyes to what it would be like to live over there.

    ICLW #114