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The other day Swedish expat Sandra, who is adjusting to life in Boston after a big move from Zurich, tagged me in a post about expat stories. Sandra writes some funny and thought-provoking stuff about life in the US at her beautiful blog Going American, and asked other expats to answer 10 questions about their experiences.
- Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
I was born in Sydney, Australia back when fluro tracksuits were cool and ALF was on TV. I loved that little alien dude. I grew up in that same house in western Sydney, apart from a stint spent in Malta with my Dad’s family – learning about the important things like fireworks, how to eat copious amounts of bread and driving a go-kart the length of the roof and back.
- What made you leave your home country?
My first expat experience was to London – it’s almost a rite of passage for Australians (or it was in my day). I wanted to broaden my horizons and experience living in a completely different country on the other side of the world. Mission accomplished.
Moving to San Francisco was about my career and love of travel. I’d spent a lot of time traversing Europe and now it’s time to do the same in the US.
- What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?
Americans tend to love Australians. I’m not sure why. I get a lot of “crikey”s and questions about deadly animals. Sometimes they just ask me which part of Australia I’m from and let me continue on my merry way.
Other times I get a rendition of their best Aussie accents. To this day I get a visit from a colleague once a week to regale me with his awful accent. It’s British. The more I tell him that it’s British, the more he assaults me with it.
- What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?
The hardest part in the US is all of the paperwork. Setting up bank accounts, phones, internet, utilities and buying a car all require a credit history – and of course us expats don’t have a history here. It can be a total pain in the butt.
The easiest part for me was making new friends at work. I find lots of people to be really friendly in the US, as opposed to my experience in the UK, which wasn’t as rosy on the friend-front.
- Images, word or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.
Super: The descriptor used by every Californian about anything.
Store: Stores not shops.
- Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?
That’s so tough. I love all foods and I really am loath to pick a favourite. However, I guess Mexican food has become my new favourite over here. It’s really difficult to do it badly and a lot of places in California do it so freaking well.
I’ve also discovered Moscow Mules here – and that’s a big feat considering I’m really not much of a drinker at all.
- What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?
No, seriously. I’d never eat it in Australia – wouldn’t even look at it. But then we went to Maui and I tasted some. Now I can’t get enough of pineapple.
- Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?
Hmm. It’s all pretty mild over in San Francisco. I honestly can’t think of anything that really annoys me. I know some places are harder to adjust to than others, but I’ve been very lucky with California.
- What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?
Exploring and hiking are my two favourite things to do here. It seems that people here are big on the outdoors aspect of life, which suits me fine.
I grew up on a farm on the outskirts of the Sydney suburbs and I’m used to wide open spaces and working outside all day. So having so many well-maintained trails to explore is heaven for me.
- Do you think you will ever move home for good?
This is the third time I’ve been asked that question this week. The short answer? I have no idea. I mean the plan was always to go home, and in some ways it still is. But who knows what life will bring? I’m not a big planner, I like to see what happens. And this will hopefully be the same.Are you an expat or a repat? Feel free to answer any (or all) of these questions in the comments or in your own blog!