“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
— Judith Thurman
I first met Sarah Elizabeth Wensel through Facebook. I quickly became obsessed with following her daily adventures. She is always out an about. Always exploring and living life to the fullest. As an European living in America, I know how hard and exhilarating it is to live in a strange place. To feel right at home in a country that we never knew before. I have never personally been to London, so I quickly became fascinated by Sarah's pictures. Dreaming about what it would be like to live there. That is when I asked Sarah if she would be willing to do a Guest Blog Post. I asked her a few questions on what it's like to live in England and would love to share it with you. You'll be instantly drawn in and captivated by her English experiences.
- Why did you move to the UK?
The Utah based company that my husband works for, asked him to help open up their new office in England/ Europe.
- How was it to get accustomed to a different culture? Was it a big shock? Did you get used to it quickly?
Honestly the main thing that I had to adjust to was the different lifestyle, I went from working full-time to being a housewife without kids! I didn't know what to do with all of my free time I suddenly had. There are definitely cultural differences but I think that the UK is probably the most Americanized country in the world. The language is the same for one at least once you get used to the different accents and terminology.
When I first got here people kept asking me if I was alright, I probably had some weird reactions, I was wondering if I just had a confused look all the time and people were concerned about me haha, apparently the phrase "Are you alright?" is kind of like saying "What's up?" or "How are you?". Other than those kinds of things I would say the main difference is how much I walk here vs how much I did in the States. We don't have a car here but even if we did we would probably still walk everywhere because the traffic here is the worst and it's generally just more convenient to walk. Luckily we live pretty close to our town center and train station.
- Any fun facts about moving abroad?
Moving abroad definitely has its challenges, but setting those aside, there are a lot of great perks as well! To me the best thing about living abroad (or in my case Europe) is the easy access to travel. Having your home base be a major city in Europe makes it easy/cheap to travel to so many other countries. Another fun fact is that you can get your groceries delivered to your door! I know they have this in big cities in the states as well, but it is so common here and has definitely been a life saver for me.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you faced once you moved to England?
A funny challenge that I had to get over quickly was adjusting to such little closet spaces. Actually there's really no closets here at all, just wardrobe type things. I was used to having an entire (American sized) closet to myself and now I have to share a wardrobe with my husband haha! We ended up getting a few clothing storage units from Amazon otherwise I don't know what I would have done.
Silly closet issues aside, one of my biggest challenges since moving here has definitely been the visa/immigration process. Getting all of the documents and dorms etc. together before we came was a nightmare. We came over on 1 year US Visa, but they extended my husband's position to longer than that and that's when it became complicated. It's not all fun and games when you are dealing with the government I will tell you that!
- What were some of your biggest fears of moving abroad?
I really didn't have many fears about moving abroad. I knew it would be hard but I think I was just so excited that I didn't really even think about any fears. If I had to say one thing though I should have feared was being lonely. I've learned to manage and make some friends here but it has difinitely not been the social life that I was used to back home.
- How long will you stay in England for?
We will be here for a total of 18 months.
- What have you learned about yourself that you didn't know prior to moving abroad?
I've learned that I do pretty well traveling on my own, and that I even enjoy it. When we went to Barcelona, Spain, (besides navigating London) that was the first time I really got to know a city completely on my own. My husband came with me but we were there for a work conference of his so I had 3 full days to explore on my own. I loved figuring our the Metro, finding the beach, and going to the attractions by myself, it really gives you a sense of confidence!
- What other countries have you visited while living in England?
Wales, Scotland, France, Hungary, Spain and Italy.
- What does your typical day in England look like?
A typical day for me starts with making my husband breakfast before he foes to work. The I may or may not go back to sleep for an hour or two :) When I wake up I try to get to the gym as soon as I can otherwise I just avoid it all day. My gym is about half a mile away and right in town so afterwards I will usually run some errands, maybe have a quick lunch with my husband on his lunch break while I'm already in Town. I have a friend that lives next door whose Husband works with mine so I hang out with her and her two kids a lot. By the time my Husband gets home from work I usually have some kind of simple dinner made, I've read some of whatever book I'm reading, and have cleaned up the house, and done laundry, etc. I'm basically like a stay at home mom minus the mom part haha! About once a week or so I will take the train into London (about 25 minutes) and just explore, take pictures and find new places to eat!
- What is your favorite food in England?
Hmm... Honestly England isn't my favorite as far as food goes. My problem with it is that there are not a lot of quick healthy options. I normally will just cook my own meals. I do have to say that England has some of the best Indian food I've ever had, at least they've got that right!
- How was the process of moving?
It wasn't too bad. We rented in Utah so we didn't have a mortgage wo worry about which was nice. We got a small unit to put our stuff in and we were on our way... with 9 large suitcases. :)
- What do you miss the most about the United States, besides family and friends?
I miss the little conveniences of everyday life. The washer AND dryer (we only have one machine that basically doesn't dry). I miss having a car, and I miss American grocery stores with so much variety. Something I didn't even realize I would miss are American accents, whenever I hear someone with one I get so excited.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. A little different from usual. I loved learning about what living in England is like and I even could picture it in my mind.
A special THANKS to Sarah for taking the time to answer the questions and share her life with us.