British Expat In Baltimore, USA - Expat Interview With Emma

Published: 5 Nov at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,USA
Emma Kaufmann was born in London and once she met her ideal frog 12 years ago hopped the pond to Baltimore, USA and spawned two frogettes. She is now pretty culturally assimilated apart from not really understanding the US electoral system or the rules for american football. She is a craftoholic who crochets, paints and sculpts in her spare time. She also speaks German as her mum is an Austrian, her dad a Brit - which makes her an Austrish. She has also written quite a few books including Cocktails at Naptime - A Woefully Inadequate Guide to Early Motherhood and blogs at Mommy Has A Headache (see listing here)

Mommy Has A Headache

Here's the interview with Emma...

Where are you originally from?
London, England

In which country and city are you living now?
Baltimore, USA

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here 12 years and will be here at least until the kids go off to college (10 years)

Why did you move and what do you do?
I originally came over on a mad whim when my boyfriend asked me to 'hop the pond' with him. He was studying for a PhD, I was six months pregnant. It was a memorable flight over on my own (to Baltimore from London) because a DC woman kept scaring me by saying 'oh you know, Baltimore is like the East End of London. Lots of poor people and riots.' It didn't turn out to be quite so bad! Thank goodness. I only recently got the green card and am currently job hunting - I'm looking for something to do with arts and crafts as that's very much my bag But for the last 12 years I've spent a lot of time being a SAHM doing fingerpainting and baking cookies as well as penning some books including Seductive Viennese Whirl, Her Ten Year Itch and the laugh out loud guide for Rookie Mums Cocktails at Naptime

Expat MommyDid you bring family with you?
Well I had one baby in vitro!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I found it difficult to adapt to Baltimore because everyone drives and I did not even have a drivers licence. In the end I learnt to drive age 32 when eight months preggers with bambino number 2. The driving instructor kept joking that he hoped he would not have to be a 'birth helper.' Luckily my second baby was not born during a driving lesson! Living in London I was used to plentiful if not especilly efficient public transport and Baltimore had some buses and that was it. It was difficult to get around Baltimore using public transportation. When I first moved here I just felt isolated and a bit strange and it took me about a year to make new chums.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I don't really socialize mainly with expats but I do have some British friends and it is fun to talk about ye olden days when we were kids and to drop cultural references like 'The Magic Roundabout', 'Blue Peter' 'Rainbow' 'Sherbert Dib-Dabs' and other important British institutions that Americans are clueless about. It was fairly easy to make friends because I had a baby shortly after arriving here and was quickly immersed in the world of playgroups, playdates, and competitive chat with other new mums about 'who had the worst birth.'

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
This blog post probably sums up the high points of Baltimore

Expat MommyWhat do you enjoy most about living here?
Well the weather is pretty fantastic. In the summer you can loll by the pool for at least three months of scorching weather. The fall has many red leaves and many evenings roasting marshmallows over a fire pit. The winter has tons of snow and you can laugh at people trying to drive in deep snow and getting stuck when really they should have stayed home!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is hard to compare because I lived in London which is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Definitely Baltimore has very reasonable house prices. The cost of gas is cheaper. Generally the cost of living is much cheaper than I was used to in the UK.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
I really don't like that it is such a car culture. No one walks anywhere unless they are 'speed walking' or 'jogging.' I walk a lot and often friends will pull up beside me and ask me if I want a lift - they can't for the life of them understand that I actually love to walk! Also Americans will jump in the car if so much as one raindrop falls from the sky - which would be madness in England where we are used to drizzle all year long. One other negative thing for me is maybe American Football (why?) – there’s only one point to football as far as I’m concerned and that’s ogling soccer players legs. With your American Football there don’t seem to be any hotties or if they are they are wearing those big helmets so you can’t tell. American Football is not much fun for the ladies is all I’m saying.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn to drive!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
It has not been difficult as I did not have to learn a foreign language.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started in 2006 when I had two little kids and was going a bit mad. I felt like an udder on legs, barely human, and I wanted to carve out a little niche for self expression. It’s been fun.

Expat MommyHow has your blog been beneficial?
I have met quite a few lovely people through my blog including Gillian ( a Scots lass, with whom I penned my book. And having the blog helped with getting the book Cocktails at Naptime published in Australia. An ebook version of the book is out now so everyone can read it, but we are still looking for a UK publisher so if you’re interested get in touch emmakcontact{at}yahoo-dot-com. I have met many writers via the blog and it is fun to keep up with them and see them published. As for my next book, I keep thinking about new ideas for books like Crone-ology – A guide to feeling great over 40...can you tell I’ve reached that dreaded period in life where wrinkles are starting to emerge and I’m wondering whether to laugh or cry. Well watch this space

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Drop me a line any time at emmakcontact{at}yahoo-dot-com and I will answer all your questions.

Emma has her expat blog called Mommy Has A Headache which is very worthy of a visit. She can be found on Twitter @emmakaufmann. Mommy Has A Headache has an listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Emma, please also drop her a quick note below.
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