About time for a wee blog update, isn’t it? Let’s fast forward from my month in Tokyo (we’ll come back to it, I promise) and jump all the way up to present day, where Scott and I are just your typical, everyday serial expats settling in after yet another international move. We’ve been in Edinburgh for about five weeks now, long enough to have most of the new-country administrata out of the way. The first few weeks of a new expat gig feel the same pretty much anywhere, even if the details are different. Register this, paperwork that. Sign up for a cell phone, figure out where all the various kinds of recycling go before the growing tower of vodka bottles in the kitchen falls over, that kind of thing. Continue reading
Greetings from Tokyo. I’ve been here for four days; so far I’ve spent most of my stay wandering around taking photos, sleeping at inappropriate times, and going out with friends. Continue reading
We’re more than a week into the hunt for a flat in Edinburgh, and it’s been quite the rollercoaster. We’ve seen some horrible places, and some less-horrible ones, but nothing that we’ve fallen in love with yet.
The main problem is our stuff. It’s always the stuff. When we moved from the US to Italy nine years ago, the agent had a hard time finding apartments for us to view because we were adamant about not wanting to buy a kitchen. In Milan (and Munich), the vast majority of rental flats come completely empty – no light fixtures, no window coverings; the kitchen is usually just an empty room with a water pipe coming out of the floor where the sink should be.
Happy new year! Now where was I? Oh yes, Assisi. After an inspiring artist’s residency in Italy, we headed back to Munich for a couple weeks of Christmas market season before hoping on a plane to the US to spend the holidays with family. Then back to Munich for a quick hello before finally making our first trip (first trip since deciding to move here, anyway) to Scotland. Continue reading
Because moving to a new country isn’t complicated enough, we decided to spice it up a little. OK, not decided exactly; things are just working out that way. While Scott is home in Munich watching the contents of our apartment get packed up, I’m in Assisi experiencing my first stint as an artist in residence. Continue reading
“Scotland? Cool! Have you seen that movie Waking Ned Devine?”
(Actually, that’s Irish.)
“But it’s so cold there!”
(Winters are a lot milder in Edinburgh than in Munich. We see that as a downside – we like snow.)
“Why would you want to do that?”
(This one comes mainly from Scottish people who live outside of Scotland.)
“Are you going to learn that kind of dancing where they only move their legs?”
(That’s Irish, too.)
“Do you like whisky?”
(Yes, very much. Can’t wait to visit Islay.)
“Have you found a place to live yet?” Continue reading
[This post gets a little long and technical. To sum up the juicy middle: we've recently come across some good solutions for watching blocked internet videos. If you're also an expat interested in watching British and American television online from other countries, read on. Otherwise, skip this post and go work on your Oktoberfest dance moves or something.]
As native English speakers who spend most of our time outside of the US and the UK, we are often looking for ways to watch American and British TV shows and movies on the internet. Unfortunately, most of the websites that work well in their home countries block visitors from abroad.
We have a VPN account that we can use to access these websites, but it isn’t always the best experience. Using a VPN will slow down all of your internet traffic, sometimes so much so that you can’t stream the video you were trying to watch. Continue reading
I recently met Saskia Akyil, a fellow American expat in Munich. She was giving a presentation on how she self-published a novel. Having had a mostly-finished novel living on my hard drive for years, I was impressed. Inspired, even. That book of mine just might see the light of day after all. One of these days.
I asked Saskia if she’d be interested in guest posting on this blog, and to my delight she was happy to share some of her wisdom about life as an expat writer. Here’s what she had to say:
I had always wanted to write a novel, so I did. Once it was (self) published, I started hearing from other expats who:
- Wanted to write a book.
- Were in the process of writing a book.
- Had written a book.
Upon further thought, I realized that there are some pros and also some cons to trying to make a career of writing as an expat. I think that so many expats (especially trailing spouses) write because in many ways, it does make sense. Continue reading
Warning: this post is going to gaze squarely at my navel. Like, even more than your average post on a personal blog. I apologize in advance.
As of this summer, I have spent ten years of my life in Europe – ten out of the last fifteen, with five international (plus a few domestic) moves in that time period. I’ve changed cities on average about every two years.
I feel like I should reflect on this milestone, about how I’ve chosen to live my adult life. But what is there to say? I like living in Europe. I’m OK with being a foreigner. I could try to say something deeper than that, but I’ve never been one for sentimentality. So I’ve spent most of my adult life as an outsider looking in. That’s not so odd, given I spent most of my childhood feeling foreign, too.
I’ve been a little bit foreign almost as long as I can remember. When I was a child our little nuclear family moved from New Jersey to the Deep South. My first indication that this was a bigger deal than our move from one street in the neighborhood to the other was on the airplane. It was an early-morning Delta flight, back when airlines still served food and Delta was still Southern. Breakfast consisted of biscuits smothered in white, gooey, gelatinous ickiness with little specks in it. I looked at my mother questioningly. Continue reading
Maybe it’s all the Mexican food we ate on our recent trip to the US, but I’ve had enough of the crappy salsa offerings in Germany. Standard German grocery stores tend to stock one brand of salsa, usually Old El Paso. My attempts to find alternatives have not been good. I once joyfully bought up several types of salsa from a small Mexican store near Pariser Platz, only to discover at home that every single one of the jars had expired. A long time ago. (I ate them anyway.) And then this, the last straw:
Don't buy this.