The 411 Of Being An Expat

“I’ve been homesick for countries I’ve never been, and longed to be where I couldn’t be.” —John Cheever

When i first started out my blog i wanted to talk about integrating into another culture, being an expat and living away from your home country; the struggles and the joys.
This will be my first official post about being an expat.
So here are ten frequently asked questions i get daily.

1. What are you doing here? 

This is the biggest question i get asked, and quite frankly the rudest.
I always immediately lock up and become utterly defensive — wanting to respond with something witty and probably seeded with expletives.
But regardless of that — the simple answer to that question is that i’m living.

2. What made you want to come to America? 

When you’re foreigner or expat, unfortunately it automatically makes your life a public spectacle. People become nosey, and want to know everything about you. This can be incredible frustrating and i’m still finding my feet on how to handle questions that i don’t entirely want to answer. As i’ve said i’m a private person and my business is my business. In short i never wanted to come to America – i didn’t plan on it. I didn’t even want to go to America on holiday. I wanted to move back to Denmark and die there, but my plans clearly changed. I met a man i couldn’t even have dreamed of and i moved to be with him. Yes, long distance relationships are hard, but not impossible if they’re worth it and mine absolutely was. People are always quick to cast something aside when it gets tough, but thats not what life is about. Its about taking that bull by the horns and riding him out.

3. Don’t you miss you family?

Yes. Everyday. I think about them everyday. I wonder what they’re doing and if they’re happy. If they ever think of me and what i’m doing. I wonder what i’m missing out on. I picture what life could have been like if i’d moved to Denmark and been there with them 24 -7. And thats when i realise it never could have been me. Realistically i was born to discover and wander. And my family let me go like a free bird looking for warmer suns. I miss out on so many wonderful gatherings, and when i hear others around me talking about not wanting to visit grandma, how their mother was being a pain or their father wont buy them a car … i think to myself. How lucky you are to have your family down the road. Never forget how lucky you are, because there are days when it is torture and a very lonely way to live if you are 4000 miles away from them.

4. What was immigration like? 

Well, first off it cost more than a liver, set of kidneys and a prosthetic leg on the black market. But i will say, considering the cost, we had a relatively painless experience regarding immigration. The worst part was probably having to go to do medical things, which i hated but it wasn’t as terrible as i’d thought it was going to be. I thought i was going to have to drop my clothes and get man handled. I do not appreciate being at all trifled with so this was my worst nightmare. It was not as bad as all that. I just had my measurements, bio metrics and some injections done. Pretty painless, but i’d actually looked up a list of the medical things i needed before i left home and got my own doctor to give me most of the jabs i needed.

5. Do you get to go home very often?

Sadly not as often as i would wish. Its expensive and a very long trip. Its a night and a day. Its really enjoyable when theres two of us but thats even more expensive especially with an animal the needs constant attention at home. So no. Sometimes i’ll go alone for a few weeks which is nice but its hard to be away from one life to go to another. Theres also people who want to see you but don’t understand that you just don’t have time to see everyone inside of a short holiday — this can cause a lot of agro so i pretty much stick to just seeing family.
But i always miss Jack terribly. We’re two peas in a pod. And i don’t like being alone in a pod.

6. Weren’t you scared?

Nope. I wasn’t. I honestly never thought it was as big a deal as everyone made out to me. I was excited, but i wasn’t ever scared or in any doubt. I’d made my mind up to go and so i did. I looked back but only to see how far i’d come. Never in regret. I knew there would be things i would lose and be giving up, but life comes at you — you get up and you go.

7. What was it like to move such a long way?

It wasn’t until i’d been gone a year or so that i started to realise how hard the move was getting to be on me. My life ended up having to stop while i waited for immigration to be done. I couldn’t legally work, i couldn’t drive and it was Texas… there was nowhere to go that was in walking distance. Even if there had been — the heat would have killed me 20 steps in.
However, having been home all that time gave me months of working on interests and projects. I learned to knit, crochet, practice my photography, created art, learned to sew, exercised and practiced Shakespeare. I read as many books as physically possible and taught myself to cook. You have to make the best of the situations that suck. And it really wasn’t plain sailing. It was hard work. Nothing, and i mean nothing worth having is ever easy. Why would it be? You’d never appreciate it if it was. I suffered pretty severely from cabin fever but i got through it. Its a huge struggle that honestly cant truly be expressed in all its horrific-ness. You’ll know when you hit that wall, but remember. Just pursue the interests you’ve never had time for. Get excited about new bird species, sunrises and hailstones the size of your fists. Life is not all about 9 to 5 and paychecks. 

8. Was it hard to start working in another country?

It was nerve wracking, and sometimes it still is. Even after a few years i don’t entirely understand the American culture or the way people act with each other here. And obviously, with me it goes slower because i am a notorious recluse.  I don’t understand the rules, paperwork or the taxes. I’ve been lucky that i’ve had Jack to help me every step of the way, if i was alone it would have been a very arduous up hill battle. Working in another country never phased me till i tried it in the USA, the language is ever so slightly similar to English but don’t be fooled. Thats where the similarities end.
At least i’m still funny, witty and entertaining in every language. So i can always bring the laughs.

9. Does the magic of being an expat ever wear off?

Only if you let it. I don’t. I enjoy every car ride, every walk and every rain fall. Its another case of making the best of the opportunity you’ve been given. Yes, i just made myself sound like a Labrador but truly, if any animal treasures every day — its a dog. So there are worse things.
I will say that not every day is a bed of roses and full of unicorns, sometimes those unicorns leave giant turds and those roses have thorns. But you cannot expect everyday to be a holiday. Visiting a place for a holiday is VERY different to moving there and creating an entirely new life.  You still have to wake up to yourself every morning. This is something i CANNOT stress enough. I was lucky enough to know this from a very young age so i knew this when i moved to the USA. But those of you who don’t — think about it. I’ve met a few people who say things such as “I want to move to London, i had the best vacation for like a week,” or “I love Sweden is looks like so much fun in the snow!”
Stop. Right. There. 
London can be a rough area — like any/every capital city. A week with a friend is fun and all, but a lifetime and you could be letting yourself in to some serious problems not to mention dangerous situations if you think its all Mary Poppins and Bridget Jones’ high waisted underpants. Mr.Darcy isn’t that good looking or charming in real life.
Swedish winters are beautiful but you could also turn into an icicle if you don’t know the ropes or you could go insane due to the 6 months of constant sunlight/darkness.
I’m not saying don’t go, but i am saying be smart and remember that life is life — it will have downs just like it has ups. Can you survive Monday to Friday living where-ever you want to go? You be completely starting over and it can be very lonesome.

10. Its easy to integrate if you want to, isn it?

Sure it is for some, but others not. I think a lot of that depends on culture and the country someone is  moving to/from.
I don’t know that i’ve ever integrated anywhere, or ever wanted to. In England i was always the funny foreign kid but i still had a pretty great childhood, but i wouldn’t say i “integrated”. I’ve never changed, i’ve been the same person for a good while — i’m worldly, and though antisocial, i do mix pretty well with a lot of cultures and people. For the most part I believe in respecting a country for what it is and not asking it to fit YOU. Its you who must assimilate. The country does not owe you a damn thing. Remember that.
However, I quite enjoy being an outsider looking in. You experience more and get a better understanding of differences.
Your mind broadens.
That is a huge gift.

the secret kept by mountains

Do you have anything you want to ask or want to know about being an expat?
You can write a comment on this post, and i’ll try to answer as many as i can !

hooves n’ hammers

I’m not sure how many of you have been following my instagram stories and posts, probably not too many of you — however! That being said, i will fill you in. Recently i’ve decided to try my hand at a new trade but an old thought. My grandfather was a blackmith and my father IS a blacksmith. Having always toyed with the thought of doing the same thing i finally took the plunge. Theres nothing better than spending a day doing proper hard graft to feel like you’ve accomplished something. I’ve done theatre thing, the boat thing and so forth — i’ll keep mixin’ it up because thats what i’m all about! Now i want to add being a farrier to my repertoire; smithing and working with horses, sounds like bliss to me. I want to do something i love doing everyday — something that wont always feel like work and where i don’t necessarily have to answer to anyone but myself. In life, for me, the most important thing is feeling free and like i’m in charge of where i’m going & what i’m doing.
A desk job will never do that for me.
I want to be out there under the sun, the rain or rolling through a heavy swell.

About two weeks ago i was lucky enough to actually shadow a farrier for the day, ask questions and see if it was something i think i’d even enjoy. I didn’t get around to making a blog post because i was super busy around that time. But now that things are finally moving along and i have a few hours to do nothing this evening i wanted to share it all with you.

Next week i’ll be working hands-on with said farrier and I physically can’t wait. Im nervous but thats understandable. New things are big, scary and sometimes a little uncomfortable. Nevertheless i think it’ll be a great day i’m sure and i’ll get my foot in the door.

On a side note this has finally given me the proverbial kick up the kisser to start getting my driving license. A kick i’ve needed since i was 18, many many moons ago.. Right now i’m cycling 6 miles to work which i don’t mind all that — i’m a pretty dedicated individual, however as a farrier that just wont do.

Equipment

New Shoes and Pads

Valor

Valor Hooves

post come a’knocking

I just received this through the post today! I’ve been waiting for around a week and it came a few days early which was a nice surprise. I wasn’t all that excited about it until i saw how good it looked when it arrived. Its obviously all my photography and the book itself was designed by me.
So i’ve spent my self-designated lunch break today flipping through this short show of my photographic livelihood, drinking sun-brewed black cherry tea and listening to Basil snoring away. Now i feel inspired to keep going. Keep creating. Envisioning the world as i do whether its in colour or black and white. Its really given me a boost.
Recently i’ve been really into my writing which means i’ve yet again been neglecting my blog here, but when the writers block releases its clutches and you can carry on living through your works — you damn well take the bull by the balls and you live/write. I obliged.
Believe me when i say that if you don’t hear from me — thats usually a good thing.

Eliza Lee and a mast to match

Eliza Lee is one of my favourite shantys or “sea songs.”
It could also be considered a rolling railway song, but thats not entirely my point.
On the 26th i had my “golden year” birthday, a term i only learned about 23 minutes ago. That’s right. I’m getting on — like everyone else on the planet i grow older as the years roll by, and it sucks.
Sad really, but there it is.
Well i guess its not sad when its inevitable.

Anyway, for my birthday we drove to Boston to see the USS Constitution — something thats been on my bucket list for years and something Pat and i discussed once — ‘ how cool would it be to see Old Ironsides after having seen Victory!?” It’s something i frankly never expected to be able to do. How wrong i was. Damn, sometimes being wrong is the bee knees.
Believe you me! Everyone needs to be wrong — its ever so pleasant to be happily surprised!

Hyggjaa
In my minds eye there is nothing more freeing or beautiful than a tall ship, warship or anything with a sail or two. The history behind these old vessels is incredible and i feel ridiculously lucky to have seen the Constitution as well as the HMS Victory, one of the great loves of my life. In another life i would have been a big sea captain with a mighty brass coloured beard, a great crew and a bass voice that could shiver the timbers n’ panties off all the girls on shore.
Think on par with a redhead Captain Aubrey with a dash of Nelson, and a sliver of Cochrane.

Hyggjaa
Yep, in a dream of adventuring, hot suns and rough seas — this is where i would have spent every moment of everyday. Fixing ropes, giving the powder monkeys a hard time — they’re tough as old boots– those boys can take it and aching over charts like a mad scientist.

Hyggjaa
She may not be the HMS Victory, but she is a magnificent ship with a history of brilliance in tow; and the most beautiful ship i’ve seen in America to date. And having the pleasure of walking her deck, running my fingers over her lines and feeling the heave of her bosom over the small surge in tide, as i’ve done with so many others — it was magic. True magic.
One of the few things in this world that make me feel like a woman is the feel of a big ol’ship, because she breathes, yearns and sometimes creaks in her planking just the way a woman grows in life. She’s tough, keeps her crew and will rarely ever falter. She is the safe place a million miles from shore, and tugs at her anchor ready for the next adventure on the horizon. After all ships are not meant to sit out a storm in a harbour.
There is a reason a ship is a she.

Hyggjaa
I know i’m a giant contradiction of a person. I want to be the sailor i know i am, but i want to ride the desert with a good horse and have my farm one day. Its near impossible to do both, but so far i’ve somehow managed to keep them alive. The lights of possibility will never go out.
I will always wish to dive in deeper but for now i’ll do what i can to keep my head above the water.

Hyggjaa
Ultimately, I had an amazing start to a new year at a new age. New beginnings are around the corner, which i wont divulge until they are more concrete and new ideas are brewing on the stove as they always are.
I’m ticking things off my bucket list every year and i’m so many experiences richer than i could have ever been, had i stayed in England.
So i thank my nineteen year old self for making a hard decision in the space of a mili-second, and not really thinking it through — because it was the best darn choice ever made.

Hyggjaa

another heart on your sleeve

In someplace New Hampshire the sun finally sprung. Spring has begun to bloom and the snow that we had last week seems forever past. We had sunshine today. Birds were singing of summer nights to come and green buds are popping up between all the broken branches like little bulbs of hope.
Its not Texas anymore — so we don’t have 100 degrees in April and we’re definitely not drinking margaritas whilst getting bled dry by mosquitoes, but summer is officially on its way to New England.


Its no secret that New England is not the place that i’ll be buried. My life doesn’t match the culture here, but i’m proud to say that i tried it. In truth i believe its because it reminds me too much of why i wanted to leave England after all those years. I got the t-shirt so to speak, however, at least wherever i go the country is beautiful. There no denying that.
I always roam just out of reach because thats where life begins.

Jack and i are making note to walk as many of the trails as we can before we move on to our next adventure, to see as much of the nature of New Hampshire and Maine as we can. As i said it reminds me of old England with the stoney beaches, fresh green trees, hidden caves and slim country roads.
I’m hoping to come across a bear or a moose, as long as its not with the bonnet of the car or while we’re lost in the woods somewhere. I don’t fancy turning to scat before hit my prime…. if ever. I keep a log of the wildlife i see in America — and i’m always looking to add new fantastic beasts to add to my list. Its very Stephen Maturin of me — don’t know who he is? Look him up and read the books.
At some point i’ll dig out my list of American Animalia that i’ve come across. That could be interesting.


Theres nothing like adventuring with a Texas boy — he can find the country in anything. We drove with the windows down and country music crooning through our speakers. Living in some 80’s B movie.

I’m an old soul from a dusty old book forgotten on a dead actors bookshelf.
Jack says my hair is as red as the texas sunset – he says the best things to me. A man who single handedly changed my life and opened my eyes to living.
My heart was bound for the ocean, but i live dreaming ever onwards to somewhere i may never reach and now reaching anything doesn’t mean a damn thing. What matters is who i’m surrounded with on the way. Thats what makes travelling what it is — the freedom to live as free as a soul bound for somewhere with another’s heart on my sleeve. Cities and people aren’t my bag — i have my wolf-pack and the people that have changed my life but my game is in the rustling leaves, in the sap between the wrinkles of tree trunks, between the cloud where i fly, in the rock pools or in the nostrils of a bucking horse through monument valley. A caged bird wont sing.
I wont write if i don’t feel.

“Remain true to yourself, child. If you know your own heart, you will always have one friend who does not lie.”