1 August 2016

Meghan Fenn - Expat in Worthing, The United Kingdom

Meghan Fenn - Expat in Worthing, The United Kingdom

Meghan Fenn is a 42-year-old Graphic designer and owner of White Ochre Design Ltd. She currently lives in the seaside town of Worthing, West Sussex, United Kingdom. Originally from the United States of America, Mrs. Fenn moved to the UK after meeting and marrying a British man. Presently, she has been living in the United Kingdom since 1998.

Although Mrs. Fenn cites that the easy opportunity to visit London and the walking culture to be some of the best things about living in the United Kingdom, she noted that the biggest challenge she encountered as an expatriate involved befriending the locals. “The ‘getting to know you’ stage can go on for years in England. British people are friendly, but they are very reserved and it takes a long time for them to open up and also let you open up to them,” she observed, adding that town locals are friendly, but tend to keep themselves to themselves. While Mrs. Fenn had no problems with the relocation procedure from the U.S. to the UK, she said that the rules have changed now. “I’ve heard it’s much more difficult,” she said, advising other expats to look into what is required when it comes to getting a visa or permanent resident status.

When it comes to relocating overseas, it can help greatly to have some preparation beforehand when it comes to the moving process. Expats may want to consider getting assistance in the form of professional relocation services which can handle every relocation need, from packing to getting a visa or resident status. Additionally, expats who struggle with making friends overseas can benefit from visiting their nearest embassies to meet fellow expatriates and countrymen while abroad.

Find out more about Meghan Fenn’s experiences in the United Kingdom in her full interview below.

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I’m from the USA.

 

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

A: Right after college, I had accepted a job teaching English at the University of Prague. So that’s why I left the States. But at that time, it was my intention to return to the US after one year to complete my Masters or to find full time employment.

Q: Where are you living now?

A: I live in Worthing, West Sussex UK.

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

A: Since Christmas time 1998.

 

Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: It chose me! I married a British man and followed him to his home country.

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

A: Feeling lonely and making friends. It’s taken a very long time to make friends and to feel like England is my home.

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

A: For me it wasn’t difficult at all. I just had to apply for permanent residency. However, now the rules have changed and I’ve heard it’s much more difficult. So I would advise people to look into what is required and how to go about getting a visa or permanent resident status because they may need to prove certain things. But now, I’m looking into getting my British passport because I found out that I can keep my US citizenship and also hold a British passport which will enable easier travel to the EU. My husband’s parents live in Spain so we go there every year.

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I live with my British husband and our three children. All of them were born in the UK.

 

Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: It took quite a few years to adjust! But now, this is my home away from home. I’m still learning things and I spend a lot of time advising and supporting others who are experiencing expat life in the UK for the first time.

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: Here in Britain, mainly in England I’m talking about, it’s easy to meet people (especially if you have children) but it takes a long time to make friends - to go from the school gate acquaintance to the actual friend friendship state. The ‘getting to know you’ stage can go on for years in England. British people are friendly, BUT they are very reserved and it takes a long time for them to open up and also let you open up to them. I have some very good friends here now, all British. I do have a few American friends too but in my area, it’s not very international. I think in London, it would be very different and there would be more opportunities to meet other expats. I found my social circle through setting up and running my own company. One of my good friends actually called me up to ask if I would hire her as a graphic designer. Years later and we are great friends - rather than work colleagues. Another good friend was a client first and now has become a friend rather than a client. I’ve also met some great people who are friends through networking for my business.

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

A: We are near Brighton and about 1 hour and a half away from London by train. They are both amazing cities. I also recommend the South Downs for walking. I love the countryside here. We also live near the beach and there are some beautiful pebbly beaches in Sussex.

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

A: The cost of a cup of coffee depends on where you go! It can cost anywhere from £1.50 to £3.50 and up. A meal in an inexpensive restaurant for a family of 5, costs about £45. For a family of 5, a meal in an expensive restaurant can cost over £100. A bottle of wine can cost £5 for a cheap bottle, £8 to £12 for a nice one. No idea about cigarettes because I don’t smoke but I’d say they are expensive - around £6 per pack?

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Town locals are friendly but keep themselves to themselves. Most of our neighbours are OK but they are simply neighbours, who are polite, but just want to be neighbourly and nothing more. The British people I know are lovely people. Kind and generous. But as I said, it does take a long time to get to know people. Of course there are always the not so pleasant people, but you get those types in all different countries.

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

A: Positives - you don’t have to travel very far to get anywhere different. London is very accessible. Love the walking culture. Negatives - the weather, the attitudes some people have towards each other (keep themselves to themselves), the low expectations people have in general. Things move more slowly here, people are less proactive and less self-reliant.

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Yes, every day!

Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: There’s not much I can do apart from write about things on my Bringing Up Brits blog that can be supportive to others in a similar position and talk to my children about family in the States so they feel a connection too.

 

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

A: Not right now. But you never know.... 

 

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: Yes! Of course my own - www.bringingupbrits.co.uk/blog 

I also follow a few others:

http://lifeofanexpatparent.com/

http://www.wanderingsheila.com/                                                                                 

http://californianmuminlondon.com/

http://lifewithadoublebuggy.blogspot.co.uk/ (this one is by a British mother who lives in NL)