8 November 2016

Kalyn Franke - Expat in London, England

Kalyn Franke - Expat in London, England

We’ve had the chance to talk to Kalyn Franke, 24, an American expat who has moved to London with her fiancé. Ms. Franke who has been living there for almost four years, now works in International Education.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Orlando, Florida, USA.


Q: What made you move out of USA?

A: I initially moved as I was doing a study abroad program for a semester, but then I fell in love with my new city and kept coming back.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I’m living in London, England. I wanted international work experience in a country where I could speak the language, so I did an internship during a study abroad program and here I am!


Q: How long have you been living in England?

A: Almost four years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I live with my British fiancé, but no other Americans.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I do miss home and family, and it’s worse around holidays and birthdays. I try to keep in touch with Skype and sending e-mails back and forth, and luckily my family has been able to come out to visit me.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I love Brits! Londoners can be a bit cold (everyone has somewhere more important to be, it seems!) but in general I find the people very nice once you get to know them.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in England? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: It’s not easy for me to make friends or meet people, just because I’m so busy with other things that I tend to stick to people I’ve known for years. I have a few British friends I’ve made over the years, but mostly it’s either my fiancé and his family or other American expat friends.


Q: How does the cost of living in England compare to your home?

A: The cost of living here in London is very expensive compared to Florida, but I love going to America now with the pound being worth more than the dollar!


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in England?

A: You’ll want to make sure you have proof of address first, as well as a visa allowing you to stay more than six months. The main tip is that if one bank won’t open an account for you, move on to the next! They’ve all got different rules.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: It’s been incredibly stressful at times, but I’m now on a partner visa which allows me the freedom to work where I want, so I’m very grateful. While the UK system is pretty user-friendly, you do have to make sure you follow every rule exactly as you can be denied over the smallest technicality. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to gain a work permit over here at the moment, so many of my friends who do live here have only been able to do so because they fell in love with a Brit and got married or engaged.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in England is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: I think the NHS is great. Good service from my local doctor, and while they’re not always the fastest, it’s definitely reliable.  You have less time here to speak to a doctor, so come prepared with your questions and use all of your appointment time wisely.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in USA or England? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: All expats must pay the NHS immigration surcharge to get a visa, so we’re automatically covered by health insurance.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to England? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I moved, bit by bit. The most memorable part was cramming all of my belongings into a suitcase almost bigger than myself, and wearing plenty of layers of clothes on the plane because they wouldn’t fit in my bag!


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Overcoming culture shock has been the biggest challenge, and that’s happened over time. You almost think that it won’t happen to you, moving from the US to the UK, but the small differences start to become apparent and it takes some getting used to. I feel at home in both countries now, though.


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

A: Positive: Free healthcare, England has an incredible history and you’ve got access to amazing historic sites, and roast dinners!

Negative: The cost of living can be a bit much at times in the Southeast, house prices are shockingly expensive, and the weather isn’t always the best!


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: London is absolutely full of activities, there is no shortage of things to do. I love London’s parks, and the view from Primrose Hill is one of my favorites. Don’t miss the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the London Transport Museum for a fun afternoon.


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

A: I am permanently living in the UK and am about to buy a house here, so no plans to move back anytime soon.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Be open minded to the way the Brits do things—there’s a method to the madness! And if you don’t feel like you fit in at first, keep trying. The Brits can be a bit reserved and closed off at times, especially if you come from a more openly friendly country, but it just takes time.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about England?

A: Of course! My own! Girlgonelondon.com. Come say hi!