Paula. From Florida to England.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I met a wonderful man and we decided to take the plunge and get married. I always saw myself living in another country and everything seemed to be lining up to make it happen so I made the move.
2. How do you make a living?
I was very fortunate to be able to use some recent contacts I had in the music industry and land a job 2 weeks after I moved. I wasn't planning on it happening so soon, but it did! I work at some of the biggest music festivals in the UK as well as help run a vintage vinyl shop in the heart of Liverpool. Pretty much my dream job.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Every day in some way or another. I use google voice or Skype to call my family and friends back home. Plus with emails, Imessage, chats, facebook, etc., I always feel connected. The time difference can be tricky. People forget and text me and it's the middle of the night, but I never care. If I pop up in their mind, I always want to know, regardless of the time. I love how I can Facetime with a friend in California and because of the 8 hour difference, she is just waking up and I'm getting ready to make dinner. It helps make the distance seem to disappear for a moment.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Liverpool?
The completely new experience. I lived in Florida my whole life and this northern English port town is as different as can be. The architecture stands out the most for me. Florida is pastels and stucco, Liverpool is red brick and coloured doors. I love peeking at people's home fronts and seeing their experimentation with colours. I like being an observer and seeing how people interact with each other, as absurd as it is sometimes.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Liverpool?
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't the weather. Even though I came from the Sunshine State, I made that promise to myself before I moved, that I couldn't let the weather get me down. It's funny though cause when it does "warm" up, by Florida standards it is still very cold, but I'll still throw on some sandals and eat ice cream like I was at the beach. I can already see myself adjusting even though I miss the heat.
6. What do you miss most?
My dog! I'm sending for her in a few months. Coming from Florida, Latin food and Publix subs. Black beans and rice has always been a comfort food for me, and the beans I have found here are just not the same. It goes without saying, my friends and family. The worst is that I will see only some of them maybe once a year when I come back to visit. It's hard to imagine having as deep a friendship here as with those I left behind.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Luckily starting work right away helped me settle very quickly. I was going into town on my own, learning bus routes, meeting people in the shop and starting to carve a social calendar.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Coming from the States I've just become used to shops being open later. Even mom and pop stores would stay open later to cater to the working class. Not here. I had an incident the first week I was here where I wanted to buy fish from the counter at the local big supermarket. It was Sunday and they close at 4. I walk up at 3:30, and they have already put all the fish away! I was a little surprised, since the fish monger was not willing to help me. I'm not saying people aren't nice here, cause they certainly are, but my co-workers at the shop laugh at me when I tell a customer to "Have a nice day"
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That the food sucks. That is rains all the time. That people are reserved. That everyone lives in London. When I would share with people that I was moving to England so many would assume it was London. Sadly, it is probably because they couldn't name any other cities. The night I met my husband, he actually quizzed me on how many cities I knew.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It seems to compare to where I was living previously in Florida. Food prices and entertainment are the same. I don't drive anymore so I don't have that added cost. I do see that housing prices are still higher, but that probably had to do with so many Florida homes being sold very cheap because of foreclosures.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Do it! Go out of your comfort zone. Engage with the people around you and be nice and pleasant. You are living in another country and I think a certain level of respect needs to come with that. Even though I am England, we are still separated by a common language. I sometimes feel like an ambassador for my native country and it's up to me to keep international relations at peace and set a good example. Ha!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I was asked to from friends back home as a way to let them know what I was up to. I think it's important to remember how far you have come. I've had blogs before, so this time around I wanted to focus on the story and not on gaining followers. I'm using tumblr since a lot of what I post is visual and I wanted to use a simple platform. I do need to write more, but sometimes I think the pictures I post speak volumes.
Paula's blog, American. A broad.
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