Expat Experience: Expat Life Lessons

join link up 4

Welcome to the last instalment of the July 2014 Expat Experience link up where I have been sharing, along with other expat / travel / TCK bloggers, some great posts about life abroad. There is a theme to write under each week and if you are keen to find out more, click here.

Please do not forget to display the button (grab it here)  and tweet about joining using #ExpatLinkUp or #ExpatExperience!

the expat experience button

The theme this week | What I Learned About Being … …  Write about the top three (or more) things you have learned about being an expat / seasoned traveller / third culture kid. It can be what you learned about yourself, what has influenced you most or what are the best bits about living or travelling abroad. Offer some tips about how to make the most of these types of experiences.

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Becoming an expat has really been an eye-opener about what kind of person I am, releasing some hidden aspects of my personality that I was not really aware of. Here are a few of the things I have noticed …

No.3 | My natural shyness is far greater than I had thought. I realised that sometimes it would stop me from doing things (even back in the UK) and make me avoid certain situations. The odd thing about when I became an expat was that it simultaneously made the shyness worse but also considerably less … I think having to be out of my comfort zone on a daily basis has made me more aware of my shyness (thus making it feel/seem worse) but have to combat it more often (making it seem much less of an issue).

No.2 | I am overly opinionated. When you live in a different country and have formed opinions about the people, politics or culture of that place from a foreign perspective, you can think you understand those issues really well, and may even think you comprehend them fully. I have come to realise that unless you have lived in a place, and been immersed in its culture etc, you do not really get the understanding you need to make an informed opinion. I now ask more questions and read more around an issue to try and understand it better.

Has travel broadened your horizons? (source)

Has travel broadened your horizons? (source)

No.1 | A change really is as good as a rest. Moving abroad and experiencing all the differences that has to offer and finding new things to try really has invigorated me. I now feel a bit more energised by my life, maybe because I have realised that what happens to me and the choices about it really is down to me. I can make the best or worst of a situation. I have the power to change it for the better, and it is not as scary, or as difficult, as I first thought.

Here are my top tips for making the most of your expat life:

  1. get to know your new surroundings – ask questions, read about it and talk to people
  2. challenge yourself (in steps as big as you feel comfortable taking) to experience things out of your comfort zone
  3. be open about the new experiences you have – some will be good, some will be awful, some will be great

If you have joined in with my link-up, be sure to add your link below by clicking on the Inlinkz icon. I look forward to reading what you have written.

Thanks for joining in!

Blogging & Travel Bests №6

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For the previous Blogging Bests click here.

Blogging Bests |

Recently found Carolatic, a blog about a US gal in Japan sharing life and great vegan recipes. She is a US Marine who grew up in Mexico and has a great vibe! I had a look through her recipes, and loved the Homemade Granola.

Native of the North was another recent find, and I am so glad I did. I love the blogging section called The Local Lowdown which shares, as selected by locals, their top 10 places in their city. I enjoyed reading Asya on Muscat.

Travel Tempts |

I always enjoy the BBC website and found this article an interesting read -  Is this the best city for expats?

Also on the BBC … Living in Istanbul

Have you got any articles or blog posts that you think are worth reading?

Reading Romps |

The local library to me is still getting rebuilt so I have not had a chance to get out a new stack of books to read – so I am throwing this open to you – what books have you read recently and would recommend?

For more reading recommendations, follow my Pinterest board Books I’ve Read (2014)

The Move to America Around the Web |

My latest article for Easy Expat, How Much the Visa Process Costs, is online now!

Feel free to share, in a comment below, anything you have loved online!

My Kitchen Creations: Iced Tea & a Brie and Courgette Risotto Bake

brie & iced tea graphic

Since we moved into our own home at the beginning of July, I have been enjoying getting used to my kitchen and cooking more. I thought I would do a little update on what I have been trying out … if you like what you see and want to know how I made what is featured in this post, then feel free to contact me and I will email it to you!

I previously blogged about an idea I had for a British twist on an American classic – UK in the USA: Pimm’s Inspired Iced Tea – below are some photographs of the result (it was very refreshing and tasty) and pictures of a brie and courgette (zucchini) topped risotto bake (this was something my Mum would make and I just love it – mine was not as good as hers, but it was still super tasty)!

Enjoy!

pimms tea 1b

pimms tea 2b

pimms tea 3b

brie risotto 1b

brie risotto 2b

brie risotto 3b

 

Expat Experience: Food Favourites in Ohio

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Welcome to the third instalment of the July 2014 Expat Experience link up where I will share, along with other expat / travel / TCK bloggers, some great posts about life abroad. There is a theme to write under each week and if you are keen to find out more, click here.

Please do not forget to display the button (grab it here)  and tweet about joining using #ExpatLinkUp or #ExpatExperience!

the expat experience button

The theme this week | Food Favourites in … Write about the top three (or more) places you have eaten, or the top foods from where you live/have visited. Share the culinary delights of your local area, and if you can, offer some tips about eating out, dining or cooking there.

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The foods I am about to share are not necessarily Ohioan inventions or staples, as they may well have originated elsewhere in America, but the first time I ever tried (and loved) them was here in Ohio. So this list is rather a homage to new foods experienced in my new home state …

No.3 | Samoas (Girl Scout Cookies) | I had heard much about these types of cookies throughout the years from Hubby and other American friends. I finally got to try some of the coconut, caramel and chocolate ‘Samoas’ and promptly fell in love. People were not kidding when they said once you start to eat them, you crave more and more and can easily eat a whole box. This did indeed happen. Several times.

A samoa cookie

A samoa cookie

No.2 | BBQ Beef Brisket | This was my first real foray into trying BBQ food. Up until moving here I have had the usual burger, sausage, chicken breast etc, but never have I eaten a dry-rubbed, smoked piece of barbecued meat before. It was moist, juicy, crispy, flavourful and just damn good. Everytime I pass a BBQ place or a roadside smoker wafting the smell of beef, I break out into an altogether overjoyous meat sweat. Bring. It. On.

brisket close upNo.1 | Waffles | My favourite meal of the day is breakfast. I like to sit down and take my time and start the day with a fresh coffee and something tasty. I have yet to go beyond the store bought types, as I feel if I try to make them myself it would be all I would eat. I do not eat them everyday as I like to save them for the weekend, but I would. Oh, I would. They are available in the UK, but not in the variety or prevalence you get here. Thank you, America.

waffles w syrupHere are my top tips for trying new foods:

  1. be bold and try new things with an open mind
  2. ask locals for recommendations as to what/where is good to eat
  3. look for recipes to try making your own versions of new favourites … yes, waffles, I am looking at you …

If you have joined in with my link-up, be sure to add your link below by clicking on the Inlinkz icon. I look forward to reading what you have written.

Thanks for joining in!

Using International Money Transfers

This is a paid for post on behalf of Travelex – a way to transfer money internationally that offers many financial services online for those moving abroad or travelling. It includes one off payments, regular transfers, exchange rate information, travel insurance and many other services.

All experiences and opinions are my own and given honestly.

moneygram post
How We Transferred Money
During my time apart from Hubby, we needed to be able to send or receive money to and from the UK / USA regularly, and with as much ease as possible. We did a little bit of looking around and decided to use MoneyGram because we both had easy access to places that offered it. In the UK, I could go to my local post office, and in the US, there are several big name stores (and some smaller ‘carry-out’ establishments) that offered this service – plus it is available online.

Forms
When we needed to send money to each other, we would go to one of the places that offered MoneyGram services and fill out a form which required various details (name, address, date of birth of the sender and receiver, amount being sent, what country you are transferring to and what currency will be received etc). Once all the information from the form is put into the system by the teller, a unique reference number is generated which I would then text to Hubby (or vice versa) to collect the money.

When receiving the money, another form had to be filled out – which was similar to the one mentioned above and included the unique reference number – and ID had to be provided (in the US Hubby used his driver’s license and I would use my passport when in the UK). Once the information is checked, we would get our money.

Fees
There was a fee to be paid (either out of, or on top of, the money we were transferring) which was based on how much we were sending (and where it was going). Both Hubby and I found that the fee charged was fairly reasonable each time we used it, but it would affect how much we could send.

Ease
Filling out forms to send or receive money did not take too much time (it also meant I had someone face-to-face to talk to or check details with – which I do like), but it did require a trip out and that was not always convenient. I never got around to using the online option via MoneyGram, but if I have to transfer money again, I think I would consider doing it this way as it means I can do it from the comfort of my home at any time I need to.

My Top Tips:

  1. Never send money to someone you do not know or be persuaded to do so, it is almost always a scam
  2. Always shop around and check what fees are charged before you decide to use a particular company
  3. If sending larger amounts of money, check which company would best serve your needs
  4. Talk to people who have transferred money internationally to see what worked for them

Have you ever transferred money internationally? What tips would you give? How did you do it?

UK in the USA: Pimm’s Inspired Iced Tea

uk to usa pimm iced tea

I recently did a blog post about trying Southern Sweet Tea and it got me thinking about ways to take something American and add a British twist to it – after all, I am the English half of this Anglo-American household!

As summer is well and truly underway, I have been thinking about all my family gatherings in UK times past, and the beverage that always seemed to appear was Pimm’s – a gin based, fruit infused drink. I wondered if I could somehow incorporate this little bit of the UK into my new American life, and I came up with the idea of an iced tea (very popular over here) made in the style of a Pimm’s.

To make a traditional Pimm’s you put/mix in a jug:
⁃    lots of ice
⁃    Pimm’s and lemonade (1:3)
⁃    mint leaves, thin cucumber, orange and strawberry slices (as much as you like)

To make my UK to USA Pimm’s inspired iced tea I will try the following:
⁃    lots of ice
⁃    strong iced tea and lemonade (1:3)
⁃    mint leaves, thin cucumber and orange slices with raspberries

What do you think of my idea? Should I add anything else, or is there something truly American I could add or substitute for one of the ingredients?

I will be making it soon and sharing photos/thoughts on it (Hubby and I have not been able to get out and about much to do grocery shopping due to a rather horrible summer cold).