Expat Interview With Belinda - American Expat in Wales

Published: 25 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Wales
Belinda met her British guy Neal in the fall of 2010 in a New York City. From there, the rest is history. After being in a long distance relationship for 18 months, the two were married May 2012 with an immediate move across the pond to Wales Neal’s home country. Belinda blogs about living the life of an expat in a small town in Northern Wales, where sheep dot the landscape. (Big change for a city slicker.) From travels throughout Europe to handling everyday mishaps, her blog attempts to cover it all. Belinda's expat blog is called Found Love... Now What? (see listing here)

Meet Belinda - American Expat Living in Wales
Meet Belinda - American Expat Living in Wales

Here's the interview with Belinda...

Where are you originally from?
Seattle, Washington

In which country and city are you living now?
Wrexham, Wales

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have been here since June 2012, and it looks like I will be here for the immediate future at least 3-5 years.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I moved to the UK to be with my new husband who resides in Wales. After reviewing both the US and UK visa process, we decided for me to pull up my roots and to move to the UK. I am in the UK on a spousal visa, allowing me authorization to work. I am currently working in a marketing agency, which fits my previous background.

Neal and I cheering on Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics
Neal and I cheering on Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics
Did you bring family with you?
I came to the UK with my husband Neal.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I have been here for 8 months, and my save grace has been that I have my husband (who knows the ins and outs of UK like) to support me through the transition. Even with him, and the language is the same, it has been a challenging transition, with a million little differences that you can't put your finger on.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Here in Northern Wales, I have yet to meet a fellow expat! It is tough finding others who are in similar situations, since the towns and villages here are much (much) smaller than London or Manchester. I work 40 hours per week, so I have been able to get out of the house and interact with "locals" rather than expats. This has been so invaluable about learning all about the UK culture.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
One of the first things that Neal and I did when I moved to the UK, was to signup for a CADW membership. CADW protects historical environments like castles, abbeys, roman ruins and more. If you are looking to absorb much of the history that Wales has to offer, a CADW membership is a great way to go! Just in our area, we are near at least 10-15 fantastic sites that we have been to many times over!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the history and the beautiful landscape. Living in Northern Wales is much different than living in a large American city, the fields are full of sheep and rolling green pastures. I love the pace of life here. Everything is just a bit more slower. And there seems to be a good social balance between work and life, much different than in America.

Greetings from Caernarfon Castle
Greetings from Caernarfon Castle
How does the cost of living compare to home?
Day-to-day expenses, like grocery shopping, petrol for car, clothing are generally more expensive here in America. But you get used to it and start budgeting accordingly.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The toughest part about living in Northern Wales would have to be not being connected to fellow Americans or expats. Sometimes it can feel lonely, and tough to stay connected to America.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Prior to moving, I was lulled into a false sense of security about living in the United Kingdom. Since the languages and cultures are so similar, I didn’t think I would have a tough time adjusting. (Especially considering that there are expats who adjust to living in countries with huge language barriers just fine and dandy.) This false sense of security would knock me over at the slightest difference or homesick moment, primarily because I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. My first six months in the UK I would find myself riding waves of homesickness because I wasn’t aware or ready for emotional outbursts caused by change. Now, I think I have a better handle on it.... but trust me, I am not perfect.

A walk in the local country park
A walk in the local country park
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be patient, and be willing to be flexible in learning a new culture.
  2. If you have work authorization, sign up for multiple temp agencies to get your foot in the door. They will help you to get used to the job application process, potential companies or industries that could be a fit , plus reviewing resumes to fit the UK.
  3. Since Neal already had a bank account in the UK, setting up a joint account was very simple. For a new expat, the process may take time (2-3 weeks) so you will need access to funds to set up your life. (Cash or accessing your American account via Paypal)
  4. My passport and my visa are in my maiden name, so when I travel across the boarder I carry our marriage license. Do I need to? Probably not, but I am paranoid that I won't be let back into the UK.
  5. Don't get caught up in all of the weird Welsh pronunciations. 90% of the residents speak English, and many of them cannot pronounce some of the trickier words!

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is all about how I have traded in my high heels for wellies here in the United Kingdom. From being a new wife to exploring Wales, this blog covers it all. My husband and I have plans to travel Europe, and this blog will be where we share our adventures. I try to tell our story with humor, honesty and a bit of grace.

A stunning Welsh view
A stunning Welsh view
How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
All of my contact information is available on my blog!

Belinda blogs at http://foundlovenowwhat.com/wp/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Found Love... Now What? has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Belinda, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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Comments » There is 1 comment

Expat Mum wrote 11 years ago:

I would definitely carry your marriage certificate when traveling as you never know when some official person is going to get funny. When I got married, I had about 8 years left on my passport and decided not to change it. Although I carried my marriage license with me all the time when traveling, I got so fed up with check in clerks telling me that I needed to change it, (I didn't) that I finally coughed up the money and had it changed.

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