US Expat Living In England - Interview With Meghan

Published: 23 Nov at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Meghan Fenn is an American expat, entrepreneur and mother and has lived in England since 1999. After graduating from university with a BA in English and Art, she became an English teacher and lived and worked in Prague (where she met her British husband) for two years and then in Tokyo for two and a half years. She moved to England to complete her Masters degree in Design Studies and then worked as a web designer at a company in Nottinghamshire. After being made redundant whilst pregnant with her 2nd child, she set up her own web and graphic design company, White Ochre Design Ltd. She is the author of a book called Bringing Up Brits: Expat Parents Raising Cross-Cultural Kids in Britain. Meghan is also an expat mummy blogger (see listing here) and writes a blog about life as a parent in the UK. She currently lives in Worthing, England with her British husband and their three young children.

Bringing Up Brits

Here's the interview with Meghan...


Where are you originally from?
I was born in Korea but grew up, from the age of 8 months, in the USA.

In which country and city are you living now?
Worthing, England

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
Since 1999 and planning to stay indefinitely, however if we have the opportunity to move to the States, we would do that.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I married to a British man. I run my own design company and I am an author and blogger.

Did you bring family with you?
No, at the time I did not have children. I now have 3 children, all born in the UK

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I had already been living abroad for several years. However, I found moving to England to be the hardest adjustment. I had imagined it would be the easiest since my first language is English and it felt like I was coming home to the West (I had been living in Tokyo) so I was incredibly shocked to discover it was really difficult to fit in, to make friends, to understand the culture. I was very unhappy at first and because it was so unexpected, it made things even more challenging. It took me about 3 years to really start to enjoy living in the UK.

Bringing Up BritsWas it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It was very difficult to make friends and to fit in. The social culture here is very different and people are much more closed off and private. I didn't know anyone at all apart from my husband when we first moved to the UK together. Now, I socialise with mostly British people. The one expat friend I had has now moved back to Canada. Making friends has been the most difficult thing for me.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
In Worthing, the best thing is the beach and the proximity to Brighton and London. I recommend day trips to Brighton and also to London. Worthing is a small town. It's a nice town, but for expats, there is nothing spectacular to do. It's great for raising a family though - the schools are great and the beach is a bonus.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Being near the beach and being so close to London.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I feel it is higher. We have to pay for things like TV license, Car MOT, parking permits (to park in front of our house!), and council tax which is very high. I know the cost of food is going up in America, but it's still cheaper than here. I spend over £400 a month on groceries and that's just for every day normal food. Eating out is also quite expensive. Days out for children is probably about the same as in the States, but I'm not 100% sure about that. A day out at a zoo would be around £85 for a family of 4. For us, it's a bit more because there are 5 of us.

Bringing Up BritsWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
There are not many negatives, apart from the fact that I don't know any other Americans here or very many other expats.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Join some type of club or group and get involved so you can meet people and get to know your new environment.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Lack of good friends for the first few years and being so far away from my parents when my children were born.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
If I return home, I think I will adapt very well. Of course I will miss many things I love about living here and the many friends I've made during the past few years. It will also be hard to give up my company here. I've worked incredibly hard to build up my company from scratch and it would be a struggle to start all over again. It will also be a challenge helping my children to adapt. They would probably find it very difficult being British children and suddenly living and growing up in a different country and culture.

Bringing Up BritsWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Don't give up trying to make friends - join a group or club (it's easier if you work as that's a great place to make friends)
  2. Use social media to connect with family and friends back home and also to make new connections.
  3. Join Internations.org - a great expat community with active groups in London and Brighton and other places in the UK and USA.
  4. If you have children, get them involved with school clubs and activities. It will help them to make friends and feel a part of their new school.
  5. Research the area you want to move to. There are some really great places to live in the UK.


Bringing Up BritsTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is about raising cross-cultural kids, parenting in Britain when you are from a different country, finding mum friends, the things I don't know but soon learn about English culture and parenting in England. It is a blog for parents to participate in and share their story and to offer support. It's also a blog for any parent who has an interest in different cultures and family customs.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Email me at meg{at}bringingupbrits.co.uk and via Twitter: @bringingupbrits

Meghan blogs at http://www.bringingupbrits.co.uk/blog/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Bringing Up Brits has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Meghan, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Susan Stearns wrote 10 months ago:

I have known Meghan since she was adopted and watched her grow in to a beautiful woman and mother. I love to read her blog. It keeps me up to date with her.

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