From New Zealand to London: A few thoughts of an expat

Do you ever have those moments when you act like a starlet of yesteryear, and look fleetingly over your shoulder? Metaphorically I mean. (Not literally as the chance of tripping is high – though there is posing for Instagram to think of…) 

Having recently visited my family in New Zealand, thoughts of home are close, so when I was tagged by the lovely Wandermust Family in a a short expat expose, I couldn’t resist but joining in.

I love reading these types of post, as the art of being an expat is both terrifying and wonderful. You immerse yourself into a culture that is either strangely similar or obliquely different in a myriad of infinitesimal ways. Each is a challenge to navigate – and throws up queries that would never occur to you when living in your native culture. Where do you buy clothing hangers? How do you make friends as an adult? Why are mushed peas served with fish & chips?

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I was born in New Zealand and lived there until I was 20, but I really feel like I have grown up in London. I have spent most of my adult life here and I feel like it has inexorably shaped my personality and view of the world. 

2. What made you leave your home country?

A sense of curiosity, a yearning to touch history and a keening to see the world. I was only meant to stay temporarily, but I was lucky enough to meet an Englishman who stole my heart (and knew me well enough to ask me to marry him a second time when I panicked initially) and a decade later I still find myself here.

3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

Well, honestly, 98% of people simply think I’m British. My accent betrays the time I’ve been living here and I usually feel honour bound to point out that I’m from the other side of the world – it’s only fair to give them warning. People then usually either go “why do you live here? New Zealand is breathtaking?” or “New Zealand is the most amazing country we have ever explored” or “I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand” which bamboozles me as it is SO very far away. Lord of the Rings has inspired millions.

4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?

Honestly, it was so long ago now that I can’t really remember. I do remember feeling strangely settled when I first came to the UK and the hardest aspect is always missing my family. That said, we probably speak more now than we did when we lived in the same country – thank goodness for video messaging. 

5. Images, words or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.

How about an entire blog instead?

6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

Well, there are so many options – but my heart really settles on two simple things – M&S Jam Cream biscuits with a cup of tea, or a cracking curry at the end of a long week. The UK doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to gourmet cuisine, but I can first handedly confirm that it is getting better, and better with every passing month.

7. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?

Nearly everything I’ve done via this here blog. Moving away from home definitely changed how I see the world – and a few situations convinced me to live life to the full – there is no time for regrets.

8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?

The lack of decent roadsigns (though Googlemaps does help a little bit) has always driven me a little bit crazy – but it’s weird travelling around the world and realising all of the cultural norms I now take for granted. Genteel queueing practices, good manners, racial opinion filters and excellent coffee spots.

9. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?

Exploring. I hope I’ll never lose my abiding love for my adopted home – I never want to take it for granted. Hence m friends calling me a permatourist. England isn’t perfect, and London certainly isn’t – but not streets are actually paved with gold, and the imperfections make this diamond unique.

10. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

Honestly, this is my home. Never say never, but…

In the spirit of an 80’s chain letter, I’m going to tag a few of my favourite expat bloggers in return – Rebecca @ Runaway Kiwi, Sarah @ The Wanderblogger, Nano at Travels by Nano B, Catherine @ Lux Life Blog, Rachel @ A Nesting Nomad, Binny at Binny’s Kitchen & Travel Diaries and Amanda @ Rhyme and Ribbons.

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