American Expat Living in Scotland - Interview with Michelle

Published: 13 Jun at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Scotland
Michelle is a travel/food writer raised in the American South, now living in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, who is a graphic designer and a musician. She has a background in archaeology, working in Israel and around the U.S. and ran an organic farm and baking business in Mississippi for ten years before moving to the UK. In addition to her freelance work, she hosts a radio program on Oban Fm called American Jukebox. Michelle's expat blog is called A Mississippi Expat in Scotland (see listing here)

Competing in the World Stone Skimming Championships, Easdale, Scotland
Competing in the World Stone Skimming Championships, Easdale, Scotland

Here's the interview with Michelle...

Where are you originally from?
I was raised mostly in Mississippi, but lived in Florida, Texas and Alberta, Canada as a child.

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

How long have you lived in Scotland and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived here one year and plan to stay indefinitely.

The Highlander and the Cowgirl- our wedding day
The Highlander and the Cowgirl- our wedding day
Why did you move to Scotland and what do you do?
I met a fellow from Scotland when he was visiting mutual friends in Mississippi. After three years of long distance romance, he popped the question. After a few months of adding up the pros and cons of each of us moving to the other's country, we decided it was most practical and cost effective for me to move to Scotland. I am a travel and food writer, so my ability to work freelance from anywhere helped motivate our decision.

Did you bring family with you?

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I've found adjusting to life in Scotland is not as difficult as I thought. Everyone here has been so welcoming and helpful, which has made my transition much easier.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
The people in Scotland are much like folks back home in Mississippi- warm, friendly and quick to offer me assistance as well as include me in their social lives. I have great neighbours and already have a circle of girlfriends to hang out with. I haven't met any Americans living here- I've only met three visiting Americans in a year. I think there are Europeans who have a fairly dim view of Americans in general, but I have never encountered this attitude. People tell me they love my Southern accent and are always keen to talk to me about America and how I like living here. It of course helps that my husband has a lot of lovely friends who have adopted me as one of their own.

Visiting Glastonbury's Tor
Visiting Glastonbury's Tor
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Scotland is a nature lover's dream. The west coastal Highlands where I live is just gorgeous, with endless outdoor opportunities, from hill walking to island hopping. And,as an archaeologist,I find the history fascinating- ancient buildings and monuments are everywhere. The food here, being the Seafood Capital of Scotland, is fabulous too.

What do you enjoy most about living in Scotland?
The best part of living in Scotland is the outdoor recreation. Every nice weekend finds me out hiking and wildlife watching. Also, the people are a treasure- funny, down to earth, smart and open.

How does the cost of living in Scotland compare to home?
I live in a resort town, so things tend to be more expensive than the rest of the UK-especially restaurants. That said, the cost of things like groceries and personal care items are roughly the same, maybe a bit higher here. Petrol is much more expensive.

Exploring the prehistoric
Exploring the prehistoric "Hill O Many Stanes" in Caithness, Scotland
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Scotland?
It does rain too much for my taste here and it's a lot colder than I'm used to, but on the up side, when it is not raining it is glorious, so in the balance it is worth it.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Scotland, what would it be?
Be open to new people and new experiences by immersing yourself in the local culture. You can't just recreate your old life, so enjoy creating a new one.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Getting used to driving- the other side of the road, the narrow streets and all the roundabouts. It took me a long time to get used to even looking the correct way when crossing the street. Also, the whole aspect of starting over-a bank account, new doctor and hairdresser-makes me feel like I'm 16 again. And while I love it here so much I'm not homesick for my old town, I do miss my family and friends. Thank goodness for Facebook and Skype!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think I will miss Scotland- the people, the scenery and the social vibe.

Castle Sween, Scotland
Castle Sween, Scotland
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Get involved in your new local community-volunteer, get a job, join a club or the gym.
  2. Learn to drive or use public transportation as soon as possible-don't be stuck at home.
  3. Keep in touch with your friends and family back home often-thanks to the Internet it's easy, it will make you feel less homesick and it will help them worry less about you.
  4. Adopt the local customs. Don't expect anyone in your new country to care how you did things "back home."
  5. Every time I feel overwhelmed, I remember what my good friend and neighbour said to me-"a year from now, you'll have forgotten what it's like to be new at all this."
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
A Mississippi Expat in Scotland: Adventures in the Mother Country and Beyond, is about my life as an expat, with advice for other expats, as well as articles about the travel, food and culture of bonnie Alba and Europe.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Contact me anytime via my blog or Twitter.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingMichelle is an American expat living in Scotland. Blog description: Adventures in the Mother Country and Beyond (by Michelle R. McAnally)
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