1 August 2016

Stephanie Sadler - Expat in London, United Kingdom

Stephanie Sadler - Expat in London, United Kingdom

Ms. Stephanie Sadler is an American expat living in London, UK. Ms. Sadler is originally from North Tonawanda, New York, and has been living in London for about 9 years. She studied in London initially before deciding to settle down in the city permanently. She now lives with her husband who she also met in London.

Ms. Sadler did not have much problems when it came to visas, as her father is from the UK, so she was able to get BUNAC until she got her British Passport. Ms. Sadler has adjusted to life in the UK very well as she had a British father and there are several cultural similarities between the UK and the US. Her most difficult experiences are simply the most common things that expats have trouble with when they move to a new country. Ms. Sadler said her most difficult experience as an expat is “Everything you would expect really: the logistics of finding a flat and a job, setting up a bank account, building a social network.”

Read more about Ms. Sadler and her experiences in her personal blog http://www.littleobservationist.com and through her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: North Tonawanda, New York.


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

A: Curiosity, wanderlust, a sense of adventure.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: London, UK


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

A: I studied abroad in London during university and have traveled to the UK on various family vacations throughout my childhood. I’ve always been inspired by the city, its diversity and the freedom it offered. I moved back two weeks after graduation.


Q: How long have you been living in the UK?

A: Excluding six months I lived in Colombia and including the four months I studied abroad, it’s been about nine years that I’ve lived in London.


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

A: Everything you would expect really: the logistics of finding a flat and a job, setting up a bank account, building a social network.


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: I didn’t have to worry much about this as my dad is British so I was able to come to the UK with BUNAC on a 6-month work visa to hold me over while I applied for my British passport. I know many struggle with this; I’m one of the lucky ones!


Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: With my husband (who I met here in the UK). He’s from Spain and has also been an expat for quite a few years also, so we’re both well-adjusted to the lifestyle by now.


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

A: It wasn’t too difficult. I had used a few expat websites before I left for the UK to start making contacts. I also held a night out for readers of my blog during my first few days in London and I’m still close to some of the people I met that evening. Through my job I was able to create another circle of friends. I also have my dad’s family here who helped me out a lot when I was getting my feet on the ground. I have a good mix of British and international friends in the UK. At first, though, it is definitely easier to meet the expats as you have an instant connection of not knowing anyone else.  


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

A: My best advice is to explore. Don’t get stuck in a bubble of central London. I writemy blog Little Observationist mainly about places I’ve discovered just by wandering around with my camera, poking my nose into interesting looking shops, walking through parks and gardens and venturing into neighbourhoods I’d either never heard of or been to before.


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

A: It’s much more expensive than home, but I come from a suburb and London is one of the most expensive cities in the world so it was expected.

a/ how much is a cup of coffee?
I don’t drink coffee, but I pay £1.85 for my morning tea from Paul.

b/ how much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
I’ve paid less than £10 for a meal, but you have to search reviews, look for online deals and be ready to take your chances!

c/ how much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
In London, you can go as crazy as you want, really. One of the Michelin star restaurants we reviewed for my blog came to a total of nearly £400 (and that’s only with one bottle of wine).

d/ how much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes? A bottle of wine, again, can be as cheap as a £5 or as expensive as a few hundred. It depends on your taste and budget. I have no idea about cigarettes.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in the UK?

A: I love the British culture (and the fact that you can actually find a great cup of tea here) or I wouldn’t have lived here for so long. It’s a city full of a wonderful array of people. You see people of all religions, races and educational backgrounds, people from just about every country around the world. It’s a beautiful, messy, extraordinary place to live.


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

A: The positives are the energy, the diversity, the fact that there is always something going on, the art scene (especially the street art), the brilliant variety of foods from around the world, the bustling markets, the unabashed street style, the job opportunities, the open-mindedness, the creativity and ambition of people you meet, listening to over 300 languages being spoken on the streets, an excellent network of public transportation, and the ease in which you can travel throughout Europe.

The negatives are the high cost of rent (not to mention the impossibility of buying a house), the terraced houses which mean you can hear everything your neighbours get up to if you’re unlucky, and the public transportation which can sometimes be a nightmare with crowds, delays and weekend engineering works.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Of course.


Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I’ve been lucky enough lately to be able to go home a couple times a year and they visit me as well. We’re also much more connected these days with Whatsapp, Facebook, etc than we were when I studied abroad.


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

A: Not back home, but since I have a Spanish husband who is also a travel-loving, adventurous serial expat, who knows what the future will hold? For now, we’re happy in London, so we’re staying put.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: The beginning was definitely the hardest. Getting my feet on the ground for the first time and fully supporting myself financially for the first time and right out of university with student debt on top of it was a challenge.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: On the escalators, always stand on the right so people can walk past on the left. Seek out the local instead of spending money in the chains (eg – kick the Starbucks habit) whenever you can. London is also a great place to explore other cultures beyond British since you can find many of them wrapped up in the city. For example, I’ve gone to Diwali in Southall, eaten authentic Sri Lankan food in street marketsand have beeninvited to the homes of friends from places like Colombia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Uganda, Pakistan and Spain who cooked traditional meals. Keep an open mind and you won’t regret it.


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

A: Londonist, Now. Here. This (Time Out London’s blog)The LondonerUrban PixxelsLondon LivingSpitalfields LifeInspiring City. I could go on…