30 August 2014

Expats Takeover: A Quick Guide to Edinburgh

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hi everyone! I’m Camila, I’m a writer/blogger who shares her stories over at The Things I am Crazy For
.  I write about my life as an expat in Scotland, my different travels and any other life related things that inspire me. 

Today, however, I’m so happy to be taking over Caity’s blog as she’s settling into her new home!
I love Caity’s guides to London, so I thought I would be inspired by her and make a guide to Edinburgh for anyone interested in travelling there. 
I know Caity has posted about Scotland before, but I thought that as an expat in Scotland I could bring an interesting insight. 
Of course, I’m not a local so if you see anything to add, feel free to share! I’m sure I won’t be the only one appreciating the new ideas and recommendations!

  quick guide edinburgh

I would definitely recommend staying in a central location when you visit Edinburgh. Most of the attractions and historic sites are located in the heart of the city and so you’d be missing a big part of it by staying further out of the town centre!
The one time I stayed in Edinburgh (I was based just across the Firth, in St Andrews), I stayed in a hotel near the Haymarket train station. 
It was great and I highly recommend the area because it was very quiet and yet within 15-minute walk from the centre. It's also right by the main Airlink route, if you're coming from the airport!

I have to be totally honest with you that every time I head to Edinburgh I try to satiate my sushi cravings (which St Andrews lacks immensely). I once tried 3 different sushi restaurants in less than a month. 
So if you are looking for sushi recommendation, I’m your girl! 
 Apart from that, there are cafes, pubs and restaurants everywhere in Edinburgh and the choice really is yours! 
 For breakfast, I recommend stopping in any of the cafes on the Royal Mile or Cockburn Street (I know it’s an unfortunate name). When I’m on the go (and on a budget), I usually stop at Tesco to grab a chocolate croissant from their bakery – delicious and cheap! Even better yet, grab free breakfast at your hotel/hostel! 
 For lunch and dinner, your best option is probably a pub. You can’t go to Scotland without experiencing the pub culture! They are everywhere so you won’t be on the lookout for long. 
Grassmarket is an especially cool place to go grab a bite at one of the pubs surrounding this cute cobbled square. 
You can also stop by The Elephant House for a nice warm lunch. If you’re a massive Harry Potter nerd like me, you’ll be in heaven! 
If you’re in need of a dessert/treat, stop by Bibi’s Bakery! They have the best cupcakes in town!  
For a fancy experience you can head over to The Castle Terrace, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant and is, as the name states, right near the castle.

The best way to get a quick view of Edinburgh is to take a tour! 
The first time I visited, I was with a friend and we both decided on the Sandemans New Edinburgh Free Tour. It was definitely worth it! It’s a two-hour walking tour and it was so much fun! 
When my mother came to visit with a friend, they took a bus tour (hop on/hop off), which went around the whole city and gave them a great first look. It also passed by all the interesting sites so they could stop along the way. 
 Here are (only a few of) the must-sees of the city: 
 - Edinburgh Castle stands atop a hill that overlooks the entire town. Not only does it give a great view over the city, but you can also use it to orient yourself around the city by looking up the mountain and spotting the castle. It is absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth a visit! Are you intrigued by the stone of destiny? You might catch a glimpse of it there!
Palace of Holyroodhouse (& Queen’s Gallery) stands at the other end of the Royal Mile and it is the royal family's home when they come into town. I never visited the palace myself, but went into the Queen's Gallery and it was a remarkable visit! We also got a glimpse of the palace and it was gorgeous!
- The Royal Mile is the street that connects the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. It is also the street with the most character I've probably seen in my life. You will see many museums, tartan shops, bagpipers, and historic sites along the walk down from the Castle toward the Palace. It's a sight to behold! 
If you're in need of some luck, you might want to stop along the way to rub the toe of the David Humes statue or spit on the Heart of Midlothian!
Princes Street is the high street of Edinburgh. If you need to do any shopping, it's the place to do so! In a way it is also the separation between the Old Town and the New Town. You can also access the Princes Street Gardens from there. It's one of the many green spaces of Edinburgh, where many to go lounge in the sunny summer days, catch some mulled wine at the Christmas market and dance the night away on Hogmanay!
Scott Monument is perhaps the second site, right after the castle, that you should definitely visit/see while in Edinburgh! Did you know it's the largest monument erected to a writer in the world? The gothic structure commemorates Sir Walter Scott, an Edinburgh-born writer, and was inaugurated in the 19th century. It's 60 meters high - 287 steps to walk up to be accurate - so be warned before starting your climb!

Edinburgh is an amazing city full of amazing things to see and experience. While I don't have time to discuss them all, here are a few things you might look forward to experiencing when visiting Edinburgh.
Attend a summer festival: The month of August is very busy in Edinburgh because there are countless festivals happening at the same time. Whether you want to head to the Foodies festival, witness the Military Tattoo or catch a glimpse of your favourite author at the International Book Festival, the city is in full effervescence all month long. 
Go to a football or rugby match : While their teams haven't been doing the best in recent years, I hear the atmosphere is extraordinary in the stadiums. I know my boyfriend (a Scot himself) can't wait to bring me to witness his favourite clubs in action, and I know that what I look forward to the most is having a crowd of excited Scots singing Loch Lomond at the top of their lungs! 
Climb Arthur’s Seat: Could you believe I've never done the hike up Arthur's Seat? The old volcano is about 250m high and apparently gives a splendid view over the city. It will be at the top of my list for next time I'm there!
All of the museums: Edinburgh has so many amazing museums and did you know that most (I'm always afraid to say 'all') museums are free in the UK? So you should definitely go out there and take advantage of that! 
 That's it for today! 
Hope that you will find this useful and, again, if you think I forgot something important, please don't hesitate to let me know! 
I'm looking to relocate to Edinburgh in the coming weeks and am always looking for new recommendations and activities to try out! 
Thank you, Caity, for having me over today!xx

Camila @ The Things I Am Crazy For

Find Camila here --> Blog | Bloglovin | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

29 August 2014

Expats Takeover: Top Three in Paris

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hi everyone! I'm Jess and I blog at Stamp in my Passport. I'm a recent college grad living in Florida and I write about travel, cooking for one, books and decorating my first apartment.

I was fortunate enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Paris. It was such an amazing experience. Croissants and café au lait every morning and afternoon strolls through the park. A lot of friends were studying abroad across Europe at the same time and when they came to Paris on their free travel, they always asked where I suggested they should visit.

If you should ever find yourself in Paris here are the three places that should be at the top of your list (in my opinion):

Photo Credit: Lauren Knight, Harding in Paris Director
The D'Orsay
If you love the muted colors and soft lines of Degas, Renoir, and Monet, then you will want to make a beeline for the D'Orsay for an hour or two. In my opinion, if you can only make it to one museum on your trip, this should be it. Forget the Louvre and Mona Lisa.

Home to the street artists, young people and Sacre Coeur, this neighborhood is worth the long metro ride. The views of the city below are beautiful and there are lots of cafes and shops to visit. At any given moment you'll also find street performers and can enjoy the free (or cheap, if you are nice and leave a tip) concert.

If you would have a little extra time and need to get outside of the city limits, hop on the RER (commuter rail line) to Versailles to be transported back in time to the height of French royal glamour. If the weather is nice and you want to avoid lots of people, opt for the tour of the grounds over the inside.
And don't forget to wander off to visit Petit Trinanon. 

 A list of all of the foods I suggest you try as well, would take up a whole post unto itself. 
Let’s just say I would suggest that you make room for second lunches and second dinners just to fit all of them in.
And don’t forget to pack a few muumuus to conceal your growing waistline.

 Find Jess here --> Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Bloglovin | Pinterest

28 August 2014

Expats Takeover: My English Bucket List

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hello readers of Where The Heart Is! As you know Caity is very busy with some incredible life changes right now (mainly moving across the Atlantic), so she asked me to write a guest post for her. I was delighted to! My name's Amanda and I blog over at Rhyme & Ribbons. I'm originally from the US but I've been living in London on and off for almost 4 years.

In honor of Caity's big move I've put together an "English Bucket List". I've tried to skip over the biggies; like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye just to give you an idea of what else is out there. In fact, I've tried to make this list as non-London-centric as possible because London gets more press than anywhere else in England really. Some of these I've accomplished and some I've yet to do!

(A view on a blustery day visiting friends  in the countryside.) 

My English Bucket List

1. See a show in the West End.

2. Climb Scafell Pike in the Lake District.

3. Go on a pub crawl.

4. Stay at a traditional English B&B.

5. Go to the Farne Islands off of the Northumberland coast and play with the baby seals.

6. See Durham Castle.

7. Visit Whitby Abbey.

8. See where Shakespeare lived (Stratford-upon-Avon) and catch a show at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) while you are there. (I lived in Stratford for a little while so I can make many suggestions specific to the town for you.)

9. Attend a service at Westminster Abbey, London (it's free).

10. Eat afternoon tea.

11. Visit Oxford and the Bridge of Sighs.

12. See a Premier League football game.

13. Take a stroll along Brighton Pier.

14. Take a tour of Windsor Castle.

15. Go to Beachy Head.

16. Enjoy a soak at the Thermae Bath Spa.

17. Take a walk in the bluebell woods (early spring only!)

18. Tour the Tower of London.

19. Have tea at Cornwall's Tregothnan Tea Estate.

20. See Hadrian's Wall.

21. Take a ghost tour of York. (England's most haunted town.)

22. Listen to Evensong at King's College, Cambridge. 

23. Go surfing in Cornwall. 

I look forward to meeting Caity in person soon!

Find Amanda here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'

26 August 2014

Expats Takeover: My 10 favourite things to do in Stockholm

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hey! I’m Van, a German girl living and travelling through Scandinavia. 
I blog over at Snow in Tromso and while Caity is moving to London and getting settled,
I’d like to take you on a trip to Scandinavia, namely to Stockholm in Sweden!

I spend one month in this city this year to do a Swedish course and used my free time to explore the city and its surroundings. There are a lot of things to see and do in Stockholm and it’s easy to get lost in the selection process. Whether you are a shopping, museum or nature enthusiast, this city has got it covered.

 So to help you get the most out of your stay in Sweden’s capital, I thought I’d present you today my 10 favourite things to do in Stockholm!

Globen is a newly built event hall where you can either attend a Mando Dio concert or watch an innebandy game (for everyone who is not familiar with innebandy: it is the Swedish version of hockey). 
However that’s not all. 
The area around Globen was remodelled a few years ago and you can now shop till you drop in the nearby shopping mall. Don’t forget to eat an ice-cream at Ben&Jerry’s while you are there and if that is not adventurous enough for you, then how about Skyview? 
You can get to the top of the Globe Arena with a special gondola made of glass and enjoy a view on Stockholm from above!

Östermalm is a neighbourhood in the East of Stockholm that offers you everything from French restaurants, Gucci stores, theatres and a lively boulevard where you can occasionally meet members of the Royal Family on their shopping trips. 
But that is not all!
If you are looking for French cuisine, fresh exotic fruits, Swedish reindeer meat or Italian wine then you have to visit Östermalm's Saluhall, the oldest and most beautiful market hall in Stockholm. 
After you had a feast there, you have to burn the calories of course and what is better than a promenade along the pier or even better, in the woods? 
You can do both in Östermalm.
Just stroll along the boulevard at the waterside and then go and explore the island of Djurgarden. Djurgarden is connected to Östermalm by a bridge and after crossing it, you can either enjoy one of the many museums that are situated on the island or you just hike through the woods where encounters with the Royal Family walking their dogs are not unlikely.

The Vasa Museum is the home of the biggest preserved item of the world: The Vasa ship. It was built in the 17th century and sunk on its maiden voyage. 
Construction mistakes and an excessive load of bombs lead to the disaster and about 30 people died. 
The Vasa is the only ship that still exists of that century and was rescued in the 1960s. You can see the whole original ship in the museum plus a few exhibitions on life on board, naval warfare in the 1600s and the preservation work of course. 
There are 7 floors so that you can see the ship from every possible angle and you can also watch a film about it that is shown in 16 languages. 
And let’s be honest, when was the last time you saw an item that was that old?

Södermalm, or Söder as Stockholmers call it, is a young and hip neighbourhood in the south of Stockholm. 
It is a former working class district that is now popular among young families and hipsters. You can still see some working class apartment houses there but also some cute, little, typical Swedish houses. 
If you are into fashion then this is your must-see “sight”. Get some inspiration on the street or go on the hunt for cute vintage items in one of the many second hand boutiques. 
If you get hungry, try some kebab or a falafel at a snack stand that you can find at every corner. 
And if you are not into shopping, watch a movie at the Victoria Cinema that was built in the 1930s and has not lost any of its 30s charm.

If you want to know what Stockholm looks like from above, visit Kaknästornet.
 It is the TV tower of Stockholm and also the highest building in Sweden. For an entrance fee of 6€ you have access to the elevator that brings you to the top of the tower. 
There you have a stunning view on Stockholm and its surroundings. 
After you took dozens of pictures, have lunch or a cup of tea in the restaurant where you can enjoy the view while you’re eating.

This is the biggest archipelago of Scandinavia and consists of 30000 islands. How amazing is that? 
The islands themselves consist of bare rocks and woods and while most of them are uninhabited most of the time, there are also quite a few people who live in the archipelago all year round. 
In winter these people use hovercrafts and in summer ferries to do grocery shopping or take their kids to school. 
It is an adventurous life out in the Baltic Sea and while you’re staying in Stockholm, you can easily do a day trip to one of the many islands. 
Just take the ferry and enjoy a day of sunbathing and pick-nicking - 2 hours away from the buzz of the big city.

This is where the King and Queen of Sweden live. 
The castle is situated outside the city centre of Stockholm, about 10km further west in a little village called Bromma. It is surrounded by a beautiful park and Lake Mälaren which makes it the perfect destination for a sunny summer day. 
You can walk through the park for hours and enjoy the little pond, the little Chinese castle and of course the beautiful landscape. 
The main castle is open to the public so you can enjoy the beautifully decorated rooms in there as well. 
And after a few hours exploring and walking through the area, how about some marzipan cake, or princess cake as it is called in Swedish, and a cup of strawberry tea?

Skansen is an open-air museum on Djurgarden, the island in Östermalm that I have already mentioned. 
You can get to know Swedish architecture, Swedish animals, Swedish traditions and handcraft, Swedish food and life in 19th century Sweden here. 
You can easily spend a whole day in this museum taking pictures of cute little Swedish houses, watching how Swedish handcraft is made or what life in former times was like, trying Swedish food at the market place or just sitting at the fire on colder days. 
In summer you can catch a glimpse of a bear and of reindeers, wolves and elks all year round. You can also inform yourself about the Sami, the indigenous people living in Lapland. 
And at the end of the day, try a traditional Swedish “smörgas” (sandwich) or some meatballs. Skansen is Sweden in a nutshell and therefore one of the top things to do when visiting Stockholm.

Gamla Stan is the Old Town of Stockholm. 
It is located in the heart of the city and characterized by dark alleyways, three ancient churches, a shopping mile where you can buy Swedish souvenirs or handcraft, and many cafes and restaurants. 
Gamla Stan is also the home of the Royal Palace, the workplace of the Swedish King. You can see him there on several occasions and I was lucky to see the Crown Princess there on my last visit to Stockholm. 
But even if you are not able to see a member of the Swedish Royal Family, the change of the guards every day at noon also is worth a visit. 
You can of course explore the Palace’s magnificent rooms too and the ticket also includes a visit to the Crown Jewels. 
And the best place in Gamla Stan is the little island Riddarholmen, the knight’s isle. 
Sitting at the waterside on a sunny day and looking over to Stadshuset, the town hall, was just my favourite thing to do on Sundays. 
But you have to see that for yourself!

This is my favourite place in Stockholm. Located in Södermalm, this hill offers you a free and absolutely wonderful view on the city centre. 
It is where Stockholmers go to on summer evenings to drink, barbecue and just have a good time. It also is a hidden gem that most tourists simply don’t know of. 
So if you are on a budget, this is the place to go! Apart from the hill, there are also a few footpaths nearby where you can enjoy the woods and a view on the waterside that is just stunning!
I hope I could give you some useful tips to make the most out of your stay in Stockholm. It is a wonderful city and I can only recommend you to visit it one day!

Find Van here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'

25 August 2014

Expats Takeover: Southwest English Towns You Should Visit

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hello lovely readers! I’m Sara from Bristol In My Pocket!
Born and raised a Texas girl, I moved to England a year ago to pursue a masters degree as well as make this wonderful country my home.
Sound familiar, right?
As a fellow American expat living in England, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite cities in the Southwest. No, not the American Southwest. The Southwest of England, aka my adopted home.
 England has so much to offer, and one of my favorite hobbies is to explore my own backyard.  

  I’m pretty biased when it comes to Bristol. Bristol is home now, and without a doubt I could not be happier. 
I moved here having never visited, which was kind of crazy but oh so worth it. Bristol has the small town feel with all the conveniences of a big city. 
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote, one that describes Bristol perfectly. 
“I love Bristol because it knows who it is. It's cool and cosmopolitan and it doesn't compete with other cities. Bristol is happy dancing to the beat of its own drum."- Stephen Merchant

  Stepping off the train in Bath is like stepping through a time machine.
Instantly you feel as if you are in a Jane Austen novel. Bath is England’s most romantic city.
It happens to be the home to some of England’s oldest history as well. Visit the Roman Baths, then Bath Cathedral just a few steps away.

The smallest city in all of England, Wells is the setting for the hilarious movie “Hot Fuzz”.
Although small, Wells is home to my favorite cathedral in England as well as a beautiful medieval palace.

Home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, Salisbury is located 20 minutes south of Stonehenge.
It’s local markets and impressive cathedral are must sees on a visit to this medieval city.

Just 8 miles southeast of Bath, this tiny town is commonly nicknamed “Little Bath”.
While the architecture is similar, the atmosphere of Bradford-on-Avon is completely different.
Off the beaten track, this town is perfect for capturing true English village life.

Find Sara here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'

24 August 2014

I'm Back!

... Well, only for today.

I've had some amazing bloggers taking over my page for the past week,
and I've got a few more coming this next one as well.

London has been amazing, but London has been stressful.
I actually thought the workload would have lightened once I actually got here.
Cute. I know.
So I'm off doing that for the next week as well, while you get some more amazing things to read about - England bucket lists, Arctic adventures, Paris, Scotland - it's all too much. Enjoy!

So anyways, quick update:


The flight was long - you'd think I was used to it with traveling, but I couldn't sleep at all.
Not because I was excited, but because it was so. damn. small.
I'm not very jet-lagged though - I feel I've mastered that art, which I'm probably overly-proud of.

We've been exploring and re-exploring the places we miss and love, while also situating our lives.
So for you, I have pictures!

Will be back after this week with more regularly scheduled posts, but enjoy my guests these next few days - they are a great bunch! 

And while you're here, why not check out the amazing expats I've had guest posting this past week?

Taylor from Due East on Extended Layovers

Sammy from To The Days Like This on Why Moving to London is a Good Idea

Anna from Anna in Wonderland on English Expectations vs. Reality

and Darci from Freedom of Excess on East London Fun

Thanks again girls!

23 August 2014

Expats Takeover: Five Best Things To Do in East London

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hello friends! I’m Darci, and I blog over at Freedom of Excess. I write about travel, figuring out life in this crazy post-college world, and a whole lot of Olympics.
I’m taking over for Caity today as she’s getting settled in London, and I’m SO excited both to be here and to hear about Caity’s adventures!
Coincidentally, we both studied abroad in London during the same semester, and left with the same obsessive love for the city. 
However, while Caity called central London home, my digs were in a slightly seedier part of town: East London.


Here’s a quick London-in-a-nutshell history lesson: London was initially built in the west, and grew eastward. So all those big, nice, pretty buildings that people associate with London are primarily in the western and central part of the city. 
The East End developed when the city started expanding and the lower class needed places to live. It was lots of slum housing, disease, violence, prostitution… you know the drill. I actually read in a book once that the East End wasn’t a place, it was a mindset. Yowza.

Things have greatly improved in the East End since the end of World War II, and it’s really become a multicultural hub of the city. I attended a fabulous university there and can’t say enough good things about life in the neighborhood with a little bit of a gritty edge. 

So for those of you in London or planning a visit, here are my top recommendations for things to do out east!

1. Learn about Jack the Ripper.
This is an obvious number one! Jack the Ripper was a brutal serial killer that committed his murders near Whitechapel, and perfectly embodies the East End’s dark, disturbing past. There are TONS of tour options that’ll take you around Jack’s London (seriously, just Google it!), including the sites of his murders. But be warned – if you’re easily creeped out, you might want to sit this one out!

Heck yeah, the East End hosted the London 2012 Olympic Games! Olympic Park is absolutely beautiful and contains a ton of green space, a bunch of remaining Olympic venues, the Orbit Tower, a handful of eateries, and more. The Olympic aquatic center is open to the public nowadays, so go take a dip in the Olympic pool! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Westfield Stratford City, the brand new shopping center built right next to the park. Rumor has it that it’s the largest mall in all of Europe.

3. Explore Victoria and Mile End Parks.
Far from the perfectly manicured parks of central London, these two neighboring parks have an absolutely incredible history. The East End was heavily bombed during the blitz of World War II, and instead of rebuilding on some of the bombed-out areas, the city of London decided to create park space instead. Is that not amazing?! These beauties run along Regent’s Canal and are seriously perfect for a long, leisurely stroll along the water.

4. Go to the markets.
The East End might not have Borough, Camden or Portobello Markets, but don’t count east London out! The Columbia Road Flower Market is absolutely beautiful and tucked in amongst some adorable and quirky vintage shops and tearooms. Brick Lane Market is located in the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community, and it’s artsy and chaotic and always a good time. Old Spitalfields Market is absolutely legendary – there has been a market on that site for 350 years! – and it’s known for its fashion finds.

This is one of the most unique museums I’ve ever been to. It’s set in a house in Spitalfields, and is described as a “still-life drama.” It depicts life in Spitalfields as it would’ve been in the 18th century, and it’s full of faint sounds, authentic smells, candlelight, bits of intriguing text and little details that give clues to the life of the family that once lived there. Tours are self-guided and conducted in complete silence, and either photography isn’t allowed or I was just so completely zonked by the whole thing that I forgot to take a single photo. It’s simultaneously incredibly cool, incredibly weird, fascinating and confusing. It’s like stepping into a painting. Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? The Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Museum of Childhood are also definitely worth visiting!

Enjoy – and don’t forget to grab some curry to eat before you leave! ;)

Find Darci here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'

22 August 2014

Expats Takeover: England - Expectation vs. Reality

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


I moved to England, just like our lovely Caity is going to do, in September 2012.
I had already previously lived abroad in Hungary and The Netherlands,
therefore the differences between America and the UK seemed very small in comparison to Hungary and the US (where the differences are vast).

When I first moved to the UK, I had visited quite a few times, due to an ill-fated fling with a British guy who turned out to be vile (but that is a story best left to the personal).
My view of England before him or having any close relationship with British people, had been reduced to something between Prince Harry and Billy Elliot.

I knew enough to know that not everyone was posh, but I didn’t know much about the average British person’s daily life until I began to make friends with locals. I had already made a few British friends in Hungary and The Netherlands, which made it a bit easier to ease into and understand the culture.
I felt like I had already had a crash course in English culture and food from dating Mr. Horrible and having British friends in my social circle in the UK.
To that end, the culture shock was virtually non-existent for me.

There are a few big differences I notice every now and then, such as the fact that children seem to be less sheltered here than in the US and the fact that people tend to marry their childhood sweethearts a lot more often.
Sometimes, though, the differences creep up on me in the middle of my everyday life, and I think the more time I spend here, the more subtleties will reveal themselves (such as there being no such thing as a refillable drink—except in the restaurant chains Nando’s and Harvester—and ice not really being a thing in drinks).

Other small subtleties include the fact that stores close exactly on time (at least in smaller cities) and all customers are kicked out 5-10 minutes before. Often, restaurants and bars won’t serve you less than 30 minutes prior to closing (with fast food chains being an exception).

When making friends with “the locals,” I’ve found British people to be far more open than Hungarians or the Dutch.
While Hungarians were more open to making friends than the Dutch, Brits have welcomed me with open arms.
The common language may well have something to do with it, but as an American, my accent always breaks the ice.

Just as in the US if a person from Australia or England came to visit and we’d marvel at their accent, the American accent seems to go down the same.
I’m not sure if it is the fact that our countries are so politically close, but it is the one country I’ve been to where I’ve actually never had someone rant about American politics to me as though I’m personally responsible.

What surprised me most were the expectations of my American friends when I came back to visit, or the image they had of Britain in their heads.
 Here is a common conversation when I go home:

Friend: So, where are you in London?

Me: I don’t live in London, I live just a little north of London.

Friend: So, is it the greater London area?

Me: No.

Friend: So, when you go back home to London…..

Me: *facepalm*

 Other expectations of people at home are that everyone has a “cute” accent. Honestly, they should hear some of the accents that come out of people’s mouths.
Before I really communed with British people, I had no idea about the sheer number of accents that exist in such a tiny country.
I knew about Yorkshire accents from my literary fascinations as a child, but Geordie, Essex, London, Cockney, Brummie, etc., were all foreign to me.
Luckily, I’ve gotten a quick course in that from my current (British) boyfriend of a year who often does hilarious impressions of different British accents.
Trust me, they’re not all cute!

 Often, there is this weird thought in the United States that Europeans in general are more cultured than Americans.
For a while, I thought that myself (before I began traveling). Honestly, being uncultured is hardly an American phenomenon and it is pervasive all over the world.
Being uncultured is honestly just a trait of some people rather than by nationality, although some countries have more of a reputation of it than others.
People in Europe are generally more politically liberal than Americans and are more up-to-date on world politics (though I wouldn’t say they’re all extremely well-versed), but that’s about it.

The last expectation about Britain I’ll speak about is the idea that they love a good cup of tea (or a cuppa).
I always thought this was an exaggerated stereotype until I realized it is literally no joke.
My boyfriend downs 4-5 cups a day. He gave it up for Lent and was actually struggling.
Personally, I’ve only been a tea drinker of the odd Lipton on a cold night or during the cold and flu season, but since I’ve come to the UK, I’ve been awakened to the glory of flavoured tea.
My favourite is either raspberry or black tea with vanilla.
Seriously, do yourself a favour and Google Ahmed Tea or purchase some sachets from Fortnum and Mason. YUM.

I will leave you with a few British words that I’ve learned during my stay here (these are more general as opposed to regional):

Cashpoint/Hole in the wall-ATM

Can’t be arsed- Can’t be bothered

Walkies- Taking a dog on a walk

Bird- Young woman

Lad- Young man

Give me/us a bell/ring- Call me (Some British people say “us” for the singular “me”)

Queue up- Line up

You alright?- How are you? (As a greeting, not a genuine question)

Alright, mate?- Hey there

Hiya- Hello

Old Bill- the police

Brew/Cuppa- Tea

Stropy- Moody

Getting pissed- Getting drunk

Up the duff- Pregnant

Pet hate- Pet peeve

Brilliant- Amazing/Awesome

Bits and bobs- Odds and ends

And Bob’s your uncle- “…And that’s it” as in “To turn the lights on, flip the switch and Bob’s your uncle!”

Beer o’clock, babes o’clock, anything o’clock

Confused dot com (or anything dot com)

Find Anna here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'

21 August 2014

Expats Takeover: Why Moving To London Is A Good Idea

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that a move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over. While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


 Oh hey, friends! My name is Sammy and Caity has been kind enough to let me take over her blog while she is busy moving over and settling into London town. I blog over at To The Days Like This about my crazy travel adventures and my experiences as living as an expat in London.

London itself is a crazy adventure.
One minute you will be gazing at Big Ben wondering how the hell you got so lucky and the next you may be walking in a crowd of people, feeling incredibly lonely. 
It is a city of ups and downs, a city of endless opportunities and a city that you will never want to leave.

The Tube
This may not be on the top of everyone’s list when it comes to moving to London and to be honest, most of the time if I’m not talking about Katy Perry, I am talking about how much I hate the tube. 
The thing is, people who live in London just love to moan about it, but we couldn’t live without it. 
It is an ingenious, intricate underground network that connects the whole of London together. Gone are the days when you had to watch how much you drank because you had to drive home, the tube does it for you!

The mind-boggling history
London was and still is, one of the most influential cities in the world. It has survived plague, the Great Fire, bombings and terrorist attacks, yet has still come out on top. 
The City is full of museums that paint its history beautifully, buildings that take you back in time and landmarks that are recognised all over the world. 
My favourite, The Tower of London, was built around 1078 and within its walls has seen so many pieces of important and gruesome parts of history unfold, including the beheading of Anne Boleyn and the torture of Guy Fawkes.

You can eat anywhere in the world without leaving the city
London boasts some of the world’s best restaurants, amazing food markets and to die for street food.
You want the best curry of your life? Come to London.
A tender steak? London. Mexican? London.
Seafood? London.
If you are a food lover, London is the city for you. One thing is for sure, you will never run out of places to try.

The opportunity to travel
If you love to travel, London is the perfect place to base yourself. With airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet flying out of the budget airports many times a day, traveling around Europe is at your fingertips. 
I have scored flights to countries like Denmark for under £30!
Coming from Australia, it is still such a novelty to me that I could be in another country in an hour. The lifestyle you are can live here is unbelievable. 
Fancy a weekend away in Rome? Why the hell not.

The interesting people
London has a bad reputation for grooming miserable people and I would be lying if I tried to deny that, BUT there are some damn interesting people in this city.
The other night I was on the tube home and a man sat opposite me and proceeded to sketch my portrait all the way home. 
There is a man that stands outside my tube stop every morning selling the Big Issue and he always has a smile on this face (a big feat when angry commuters are walking past you).
 I was sitting in the park once when a man approached me and offered up two cans of unopened beer they couldn’t finish. 
It may be a city known for miserable people, but look a little closer and you will find London is home to some of the best. 

Plus, I live here and I’m awesome.

There are of course many more reasons why moving to London is a good idea, but if I didn't stop there, we would be here all day.

Find Sammy here --> Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bloglovin'


Where The Heart Is - An American in the UK. Theme by STS.