Expat Musings

Advice to My Pre-Expat Self {Expat Q&A}

Well, hello my little kittens and welcome to another installment of Expat to Expat Q&A with the ever wonderful Bailie and I.  I have to tell you, and I know that each month I say this, but boy oh boy do I love the Expat to Expat Q&A. Each month, I feel like a group of wonderful expats get together and  have a big coffee chat all about life in a new cultural environment.  Do you feel the same? It is oh so lovely, right?

I also have to tell you that we are having a fab time with my sister, showing her my expat life in the UK. It has been awesome and eye opening to have someone from the States be here, I am seeing things so differently. That my dear love bugs is a post that is due shortly!

 But what is a post without a picture? I snapped this picture as we drove through the lovely Snowdonia National Park. I hope you find it as stunning as I do.

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With that, let’s tackle this month’s questions…shall we?

Q1: What advice would you give to your pre-expat self?   Woo, this question is a big one, right?  If I could give my pre-expat self any advice I would tell myself to cut myself some slack.  I am way too much of a perfectionist, and I can be too hard on myself when things don’t go the way that I anticipate or plan. I would tell my pre-expat self to be more patient and realize that failures will happen every once in a while, it is okay.  I remember the first few months after moving to Wales I would get frustrated over the smallest things like doing laundry or figuring out new grocery brands. It was exhausting, because I was starting all over.   I wish I had known the emotional investment it would take to become adjusted, slowly but surely.

Q2: How do you reconcile what you thought life would be like in your new home and it is in actuality? i.e. did you think you would be fluent in your new language and your are struggling with the basics.   I will be really honest here.  Before I moved to the UK, I imagined romantic and far flung weekends in France, Italy or Germany because why not? Well, that is wonderful in the movies but it isn’t real life.  Real life is paying off moving expenses and a wedding, finding a job, paying for flights to America and handling grownup stuff like fixing a cooker. I have reconciled this very realistic life, rather than the romantic ideals of far flung weekends away, by enjoying the moments we have in Wales. There are so many wonderful adventures to have right here in the UK, perfect for weekends away.  Sure, I want to travel more around Europe and I know we will. But, for the time being I am appreciating big and small adventures.

Before we all linkup our expat stories, let’s meet a fellow expat…the lovely Chelsea from Lost in Travels.


Blog // Twitter // BlogLovin// Facebook

Chelsea, tell me about yourself: After getting hitched to my man, we discovered that we both wanted something different, something exciting, something adventurous. So we did the only logical thing; sold all of our belongings and moved half way around the world to teach English in South Korea. Makes sense right? A blog once used just to make our families feel at peace about us being half way around the world, it has turned into a place where I document our world adventures, our daily lives as expat and share tips on how to travel well and on a budget! Follow along on our world travel adventures as we try to figure out newlywed expat life in the land of kimchi and rice

Now, what makes your heart sing? Ok this may seem obvious but traveling! My husband and I were recently in Japan, in the most crowded intersection of the world and that’s when I realized how fulfilled and happy I feel when traveling. Even though we are out of our comfort zone, experiencing a culture that is different from our own, where we don’t recognize the street signs, eating foods unfamiliar to us, trying to have conversations with people through broken English and charades; this is when I feel most at peace in my life.

Give me five words to describe yourself: adventurous, spontaneous, hospitable, curious, introvert

I have to be honest, Chelsea is a blogger that I truly admire and adore. She has an adventurous spirit, a kind heart and her blog is filled with travel stories.  Chelsea focuses some of her blog on sharing her real life travel budgets and tips, super practical and worth reading if you are heading to Asia. Oh, and her blog is packed with STUNNING photography, like these from the tempes in Angkor, Cambodia. {Even better? Her husband shoots all of the photography, making her blog a team effort!}  Since she is an expat like myself, she has plenty of stories about life in South Korea.   Not only are we kindred expat spirits, we are both veterans of long distance relationships. And like myself, Chelsea found some benefits and lessons from a LDR.

Make sure to hop on over and introduce yourself to the lovely Chelsea!  Now, what about you my honey bunny bears? Do you have a few thoughts to share for this month’s Q&A? Well, join in! Bailie and I welcome you to join us for the linkup! Don’t be shy, we are a friendly bunch and I love reading everyone’s answers!


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  • I’m so excited to join this linkup for the first time! I agree that cutting yourself slack is key… everything that used to feel small and meaningless is a BIG DEAL when you’re an adjusting expat. I found myself in tears over grocery shopping more than once in our first months in Taiwan. but you adjust eventually… for the most part!

    • So excited to have you too Jamie! It’s a fun way to get to have a chat with fellow expats on the same topic… 🙂

      I have lost it over brown paper bags, and not being able to find any. Embarrassing, but it was such a small and silly moment..who knew?

  • I might try and do this for tomorrow or thursday! I’m so crap and remembering link ups I want to do haha. I’m such a control freak as well, so give yourself some slack is some definite advice.

    • Join whenever you can! I normally forget about linkups too (unless I am hosting them, ha!) so it is open for two weeks! Tweet when you post it so we can share it with others. But cutting slack? Big time learning lesson for myself! Whew.

  • I think cutting yourself some slack is hard when you move abroad – like you say, you’re starting over, and the learning curve can really throw you. When you’re used to feeling in control, learning “simple” things like using the washing machine can suddenly become overwhelming when you just want to do it NOW. I wasn’t so easy on myself with a lot of those little things, too.

  • Casey

    That photo is seriously stunning!!!

  • Wow, that photo really is stunning! I had a lot more realistic view of our new life, with two kids in tow I didn’t have any fantasies about romantic weekends away and knew perfectly well I would still be doing boring things like laundry and the school run!
    Like you I haven’t travel about quite as much as I thought we would but then why would we when there are amazing places to discover right on our doorstep 🙂

  • Amazing photo and absolutely 100% agree with the cutting yourself some slack! I so need to do that. Also, finally got out of my blog (and general head) fuzz thanks to this Q&A this week!

  • yeah I thought we would be traveling and jetsetting all over Europe when we moved here. Then realised that it would take us quite a while to have the funds to do all that traveling with a family of four. But I am looking forward to our next out of country trip once we get our passports back from the visa office.

  • Oh wow, I wish I’d thought of that one about romanticising the location! I do this one aaaaaalllll the time. For example, in France I assumed I would be hanging out with frenchies, eating baguette all the time and drinking wine. I pretty much did do that actually but without the french people… not quite the same though is it! 😉

  • That photo is gorgeous!

    I really resonate with what you wrote about romanticising the location. God knows I did that with London SO MUCH before I moved here. I think now I do the same about Sydney.

  • that picture is gorgeous! and i agree with you, i was so hard on myself to get adjusted RIGHT AWAY. it takes time…duh 😉

  • You took both the answers right out of my mouth! I was definitely way too hard on myself in the beginning, and put so much pressure on “fitting in” right away. I think I’ve come to the realization that no, I’m not French and I never will be French, and that’s perfectly okay! I don’t have to understand the language 100% or follow all the fashion trends or whatever else, to find my comfort zone here. It’s a lot about what perspective you CHOOSE to have as an expat 🙂

  • Happyeverafter_Bride

    I loove this week’s question. am gonna hop all the linkups and call it research for what I will be going through in 3 months!

  • I love these questions and they had such good timing! Thank you!