US Expat Living in Aberdeen, Scotland - Meet Alison

Published: 10 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Scotland
Alison Chino wants to live in a world where the adventures are new every day, the soups feed a crowd and the kids still play outside. She lives abroad with her husband, Taido and their four kids. Her travel musings, stories about expat life in Scotland and yummy recipes can be found several times a week at Alison's expat blog called Chino House (see listing here)

Meet Alison - US expat living in Aberdeen, Scotland
Meet Alison - US expat living in Aberdeen, Scotland

Here's the interview with Alison...

Where are you originally from?
North Little Rock, Arkansas

In which country and city are you living now?
Aberdeen, Scotland

How long have you lived in Scotland and how long are you planning to stay?
We moved to Scotland last summer for my husband to do a PhD at the University of Aberdeen, so we will be here for at least three years, as that is the length of his program.

Why did you move to Scotland and what do you do?
We moved, like I said, for my husband to pursue a PhD. I am a freelance writer and travel blogger, but I also spend a lot of time just being a mama.

Chino Family Heads To Scotland!
Chino Family Heads To Scotland!
Did you bring family with you?
Yes! We have four kiddos, ages 16, 14, 12 and 7.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I would say that we are definitely still in transition as expats. At first, everything was very exciting and new, then after a few weeks, it begin to sink in how far away we were from friends and family. Now I feel like we are on the upswing and are beginning to have a picture of what our life will be like in the day to day.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
The internet has made it so easy to meet expats! It is really amazing. We met several folks online before we ever arrived, which was a huge help with planning and packing for our move.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Aberdeen is situated with the North Sea to the east and the Cairngorn Mountains to the west. I love a day trip in either direction!

Chino Family Hiking In Scotland
Chino Family Hiking In Scotland
What do you enjoy most about living here?
We love the outdoors, so we have gone hiking in the Highlands a lot and we love it. It's so beautiful, but in a way that is different from other places we have lived. Also, we're pretty enchanted with the castles. Getting to experience a new country as a "slow" tourist is the highlight of being here for sure.

How does the cost of living in Scotland compare to the US?
The UK is very expensive, and Aberdeen in particular. They say the bus fare is higher here than in London, and the housing market is crazy since the oil industry is growing here so quickly. This has been a hard adjustment for us, since we did not come from an expensive city in the US.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
We are heading into winter and we are trying to adjust to the number of daylight hours this far north. The sun is setting as we get out of school and so the nights feel very long. We're making some new traditions like having tea before dinner and playing new games inside to get through the longer evenings.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
It will probably cost more than you anticipate, so save as much money as possible on the move. One way to do this is to not move your big stuff overseas. The apartments usually come furnished anyway.

Kids playing in the North Sea on our first night in Aberdeen
Kids playing in the North Sea on our first night in Aberdeen
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Watching my kids miss their friends and family has been harder than even missing people myself. No one wants their kids to be sad, but I know this will get easier as they make more friends here.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I am not certain, but one thing I do know. I think the six of us as a family will be closer for having this shared experience that no one else back home can understand. I think we will always remember the three years we spent doing this new thing together as a time that we depended more on each other.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Pack light! There are very few things you cannot get in the UK.
  2. Bring a few sentimental items. I wish I had brought our Christmas stockings and a couple more storybooks. It's hard to anticipate what you will really need, but I had not thought about having a few reminders of home. I did bring a few favorite kitchen items that made me feel more at home in my new kitchen.
  3. Meet the locals. One thing about connecting with other expats is that it can keep you from having time to make friends with people in the community. It takes longer to make friendships with people who have not moved around a lot (whereas expats can be fast friends), but I think it will be worth it.
  4. Get a local cookbook. It's cheaper to cook what is grown here, so I've been trying to eat locally and use local recipes instead of looking everywhere for the ingredients for the recipes I'm used to making. Get a scale and go ahead and make the switch to weighed measurements instead of what you are used to. The sooner you make those small adjustments, the easier it is to feel at home I think.
  5. Take walks. Walking everywhere is how I have made the most discoveries about my new home town. The perspective you get from walking and taking in the world at a slower pace makes such a difference as you are learning about a country.

Kings College where Taido studies
Kings College where Taido studies
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Chino House is a blog about our family, with an emphasis on travel, the outdoors and food. You can probably tell from my answers to the other questions that food is a big deal to me. I love trying new foods and finding new ways of preparing meals that are both healthy and delicious! Also, getting outside and seeing the world around us is a high value to our family, so we blog lots of local hikes and walks that we take in our local shire.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to message/friend me on Facebook if you want to know more!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingAlison is an American expat living in Scotland. Blog description: Chino House is a family travel and food blog about an American family living in Scotland. Adventures will abound.
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