21 July 2016

Jen B. - Expat in London, The United Kingdom

Jen B. - Expat in London, The United Kingdom

Jen B. is a Marketing Manager for U.S. based Software Company who currently lives in London, in the United Kingdom. Originally from Salem, USA, Jen decided to relocate after the company she worked for offered her a similar position in the UK. “I immediately jumped at the opportunity and was fortunate to have the support of my employer and manager to help me relocate to London for a year and a half to help build our international business,” Jen said. Jen has been living in London for 14 months now.

 

Jen states that her most difficult experience as an expat had to do with adjusting to life in London. “After the honeymoon “London is amazing!” phase of my London life I started to notice all the little differences and compared to my hometown back in the USA,” she said, adding that she was lonely and homesick when thinking about all that she missed. “Ultimately, I came through it and realized I couldn’t compare and contrast forever,” Jen said. She also noted that the culture and politeness of the British made it difficult for her to befriend any locals aside from her coworkers. To cope, Jen said she joined several clubs and meet-up groups for Americans in London. “There is no shortage of opportunities to meet people in a city where so many foreigners live,” Jen added.

 

Like Jen’s experiences, it is common for expats to find it a challenge to befriend locals due to differences in language, culture and habits. Expatriates looking for alternative ways to meet people outside of work may want to consider joining several clubs and associations around the area they live in and get to know locals and other expats who share similar interests. Furthermore, expats who may be going through some culture shock and homesickness while overseas may find some support in their local embassies.

 

Find out more about Jen’s experiences in London in her full interview below.

 

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Salem, OR USA

 

Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: The company I worked for in Seattle was expanding internationally and had an opportunity for a similar position to mine in London.  I immediately jumped at the opportunity and was fortunate to have the support of my employer and manager to help me relocate to London for a year and a half to help build our international business.

 

Q: Where are you living now?

A: London, England

 

Q: How long have you been living in the United Kingdom?

A: 14 months.

 

Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in the UK?

A: Any move is a major life change, but moving internationally is the extreme life change. After the honeymoon “London is amazing!” phase of my London life I started to notice all the little differences and compared to my hometown back in the USA.  I became quite bitter and lonely for a few months and was really homesick thinking about all the things and people I missed in America.  Ultimately, I came through it and realized I couldn’t compare and contrast forever, and since then I’ve been enjoying London for the unique place it is and am grateful I have this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience life in one of the world’s biggest and most well-known cities.

 

Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in the UK? What was your experience with these?

A:  Fortunately I had the support of my employer to sort out visa and relocation logistics, but I’ve heard from other American expats here that it’s difficult to move to the UK without a work or student visa.

 

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I live in a flatshare (a house) with 2 other expats, one from the USA and one from Australia. It’s been so fun to live like college students again in my thirties.

 

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in the United Kingdom? How did you manage to find a social circle in the United Kingdom?

A: The majority of my friends here are expats as well. Having this experience of living in and adjusting to life in a foreign country together is incredibly bonding.  Londoners are welcoming but the British etiquette and politeness in my experience has made it difficult to really befriend any Londoners outside of my coworkers.  I’ve joined meet-up groups for Americans in London and running clubs – there is no shortage of opportunities to meet people in a city where so many foreigners live.

 

Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: I write up all my fun adventures on my blog http://www.ladyrelocated.com and have a London life series that outlined my first year abroad.  There are so many options for activities in London from markets, museums, musicals, theatre, shopping, parks, wandering new neighborhoods, or taking train trips to other destinations around the UK or flights to Europe. You’ll never have an excuse to be bored in this town.

 

Q: How does the cost of living in the United Kingdom compared to your home?

A:  A cup of coffee costs 2 GBP, a meal n an inexpensive restaurant costs 10 GBP while a meal in an expensive restaurant costs 15-25 GBP. I’m not sure about the cost of a bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes.

 

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in the United Kingdom?

A:  Pros: So many activities to keep you busy, diversity of languages and ethnicities,  learning about British culture, expanding your world view, learning the history of Great Britain and Europe, cheap flights to destinations in Europe, exploring the UK by train, public transportation that runs on time and goes everywhere you need, and meeting people from all over the world. Cons: it’s big, crowded, expensive, fast-paced city.

 

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Of course I miss my family and friends. However, whenever I get homesick I try and remember all the reasons I decided to move here. This experience is temporary for me so I want to make the most of it and embrace London life rather than dwell on everything and everyone I’m missing back home.  I will be back with them soon!

 

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A:  I’ll move back to the US this Spring after living in London 18 months.  I’m more nervous about moving back than I was about moving here. It’s a scary thought to leave behind all the excitement and adventure of London! Every chapter in life has wonderful aspects though, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store back in the USA after this.

 

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about the UK?

A: http://www.thewanderblogger.com/p/things-to-do-in-london.html, http://www.timeout.com/london and http://londonist.com/.