Top things my 7 year old loves about living in America

By: Clare Gosling

When I first saw this competition come up, my initial thought was 'Yay, I can list the favorite things I love about living in South Carolina’.  But then I realized I do this all the time.

So I thought I would take a slightly different approach.  I sat my 7 year old, Oliver, down over lunch out one day and asked him what his favorite things about living here were.  I was quite surprised by some of the answers.

Shopping - “I like going in the big stores, as they have lots of toys to look at.”

Seriously?  My 7 year old boy likes shopping?!!  Ok, they like the big stores like Target, Kmart and Walmart.  We tend to start in the kids sections, as it keeps them quiet.  We are also awfully good at saying no.  Has come from years of practice!  When we first moved here, we chose to leave a lot of our life back in the UK and went a bit nuts on buying a whole new house.  The boys did not enjoy shopping then.  Something about furniture stores that sends them a bit batty.....

Downtown Greenville has some lovely little unique shops, the boys aren't as keen on these, but they do enjoy the toy shop and the restaurants/ cafés.

Which leads me to...

Eating out – “I like trying all the different restaurants”

Ok, so the culture regarding eating out is very different here, particularly if you have kids.  From since we first moved here, right to this day, we eat out.  Usually it is about once a week, more often if we have visitors, or it is a holiday.  There is something very lovely about sitting down for a meal, I think it has to do with not having to cook, clear or wash up.  We have eaten at all sorts of different restaurants.  Fast food, counter service, diners, and occasionally more up-market places (when we get to leave the kids at home).  We have tried a few different cuisine types: European, American, Mexican, Greek.  We are not overly keen on seafood, which is a shame as one of the specialties of South Carolina is shrimp and grits.  Typically the kids love fast food. Oliver’s favorite is Pizza Inn (he had his baseball dinner there), Isaac's is Chic-fil-a, “it's really tasty” apparently. Sebastian's is probably McDonald’s, he loves their ice cream and play areas, he has even got good at eating everything.

Paul and I do prefer the restaurants.  We enjoy the major chains like Chilies, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Buffalo Wild Wings.  We even like some of the smaller chains and independents

All in, dining out in South Carolina is a nice feeling.  The kids are catered for, which makes it easier and more relaxing for the adults.  The food is generally good, only a couple of bad experiences so far.  The service is usually as you would expect.  Not too over the top (this has happened, but never with the kids), with a nice sprinkling of southern hospitality, and a very agreeable atmosphere.

Food in general – “I like the different foods I have tried”

This may take some explaining.... My children have never been overly fussy, but they know what they like.  When we first came here, they would always have the same things when we ate out - chicken tenders and fries.  In the 14 months we have been here, things have changed.  Oliver now loves pizza, particularly with mushrooms, we don't know where this has come from, Paul and I hate mushrooms.  He also loves bacon, different bread and hamburger’s. He is willing to try new things.  He doesn't always like them, but he will nearly always try.  Isaac (5 years old) is in that stubborn food phase.  He will often only eat his fries when we are out, but always with ketchup and mayo.  He loves bread, and candy.  When we are home he always has a set lunch of sandwich (cream cheese or jam), strawberries, crisps (have to be hickory BBQ, not BBQ, or Cheetos puffs) then dessert.  Living in a fast food nation, Sebastian (2 years old) is turning into a fruit monkey.  He eats at least 2 apples a day, a banana and usually some melon too.  He has recently started tucking into everything on his plate, particularly at restaurants.  

I am still not overly keen on the bacon, or the bread.  I got a bread maker for Christmas last year, which enables me to make lovely crusty loaves.  I do this at least twice a week.   I still cook the same kind of things I made back home, but with subtle changes in the ingredients (I can only get my beloved Oxo cubes online or from friends in the UK).  The convenience food has grown on me, particularly with 3 growing boys!!!

Traveling – “I like all the places we have been particularly the mountains and Martinsville” 

We have been very fortunate to see a bit of the country since we have lived here.  First off we went to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg for my birthday in February.  We got lucky with a lovely 3 bedroom cabin in the middle of nowhere right in between the 2 towns.  It had the bonus facilities of a pool table and hot tub.  The boys loved the hot tub!  Exploring the area was nice too.  We love Gatlinburg and Uber Gatlinburg.  It was cold, and there was even snow in Uber Gatlinburg.  It was a nice break, driving through the Smoky Mountains.  We even bought some moonshine, which we enjoyed with Paul's brother when he came over.

Next we went to Tybee Island in Georgia with my mum at Easter.  What a beautiful place.  It wasn't exactly beach weather, a bit windy, but warm all the same.  This was the first place we saw dolphins.  We were on the beach, and they were literally 50 meters off the shore.  So amazing.  Tybee is a place of contrasts.  As we had my mum with us, Paul and I were able to go out for the evening. Surprisingly, the place was dead by 10pm!!!  A beautiful small island, and we got to see it before the summer season kicked in.

Our next trip was to the South Carolina coast.  We stayed in a small village called McClellanville, about half way between Charleston and Myrtle Beach.  We went with some friends and shared an amazing house, right on one of the many coastal inlets.  The house was perfect, and though we both did different things in the day we all had a good time.  We visited Myrtle Beach one day.  It was lovely, despite the biker convention going on.  Reminded me a little of a seaside town in the UK.  A lovely place, and one I wouldn't mind going back to.  On another day we went to Charleston.  Again, another beautiful place, but in a different way.  Many old buildings, which if the boys had been a bit older, we may have had a better chance to look around.  We did visit the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned US aircraft carrier which is moored there. The boys loved this, as did Paul and I.  It is huge, and well worth a visit.

We had to take the boys to Florida to do Disney.  We did this in the summer as our main holiday.  We drove, it took us all day.  The house we rented was slightly out of the way, on a subdivision with its own pool.  The first week, when we had our Disney tickets, it rained a lot.  It did not stop us though.  The boys loved Legoland, and still talk about it.  It has inspired Oliver that he wants to be a Lego designer or a NASCAR racer (more on that shortly).  We also did Seaworld, which the boys loved, though it felt very busy.  But the house made it for us.  The joy of having a pool at your back door made it very worthwhile.

Our most recent trip was to a small (and I mean small) town in Virginia.  Fries is situated on the banks of the New River, and grew up around a textile mill.  This mill is now redundant, though the building has been changed into a hydro-electric processing plant.  Good use of an old facility.  The river, and surrounding area is beautiful.  The reason we went?  We had tickets to the NASCAR at Martinsville, about 80 miles away.   Bit of a trek, but again the house and the scenery made it worthwhile.  The mountains in the fall look amazing.  The NASCAR was awesome, so loud and intense.  Didn't stop Sebastian falling asleep though!  We drove the scenic route home from Fries and saw the beautiful mountains though Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Well worth the extra 2 hours!

We are heading back to the UK for Christmas, and have our summer holidays for next year planned (back to Europe), but we have plans afoot for more Stateside travelling.

Watch this space.....

Weather – “I like it!”

This is no UK weather!  Saying that, we just had snow recently.  We are on the same latitude as North Africa, so get sub tropical weather most of the time.  Right now, it has got cold, like, very cold, but that could change again in a week.  I think Oliver likes the fact he doesn't have to worry about having a coat, and has lived in shorts for 10 out of the last 14 months.  Oliver played the spring and fall seasons of Little League baseball.  The spring started cool, but got hot very quick.  And the summer was hot.  Apparently there were not as many thunderstorms as usual.  But while we were in Florida, it rained here.  A lot.   So much so, that Greenville is already over it record rainfall for the year, and the year isn’t over yet!  The fall season of baseball started very warm, but the last few weeks of games led to very chilly evenings.  I packed Oliver off in at least 3 layers for his last game!

Isaac hates the heat, and is loving the cooler air.  Sebastian shows no preference, though it is nice to not have him going bright pink at the slightest time outside.  The heat gets up very quickly in the summer, to the point where you don't want to be outside from 10am to 4pm.  It's no wonder the shops open early and close late.  I don't mind.  I am not the biggest fan of the cold (I hate it!) and thoroughly enjoyed the warmer weather in the summer.  We have had a fair amount of weather warnings.  There is a very good early warning system here.  So far we have had ice storm warnings and tornado warnings.  Luckily neither has come to much.  South Carolina is overdue a hurricane to make devastating landfall.  Hopefully it won't happen while we are here.....

So these are the favorite things of my seven year old about living in South Carolina. As adults, we know we are exceptionally lucky to be spending some time living in a foreign country. You can never be completely sure how a child feels about something.  I am beginning to think that maybe Oliver understands how lucky he is...

About the author

Expat Blog ListingClare Gosling is a British expat living in USA. Blog description: We left the UK for the USA last year. That would be myself, my husband, 3 boys under 7 and a cat. The cat loves it in South Carolina.....
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Contest Comments » There are 27 comments

Louisa wrote 10 years ago:

As an expat Brit myself, I love reading Clare's posts on her experiences in South Carolina. This post is a great example of the accessible perspectives she shares on living in a 'strange new world'. It's must-read material for any families considering doing the expat thing.

Faye Murphy wrote 10 years ago:

What an insightful little boy, I love how he talks about the weather too - so English lol.

Anne Lee wrote 10 years ago:

What a wonderful experience you are all having-as close to 'living the dream' in this day and age as an ordinary young couple with small children can get! You have clearly immersed yourselves in the American culture even down to adopting some of their spellings-ahem! Your posts always make very interesting reading and I appreciate them most when I manage to read them just before heading out to work at the 'chalkface'. Keep them coming, please.

Liene wrote 10 years ago:

Sounds like y'all have got The South figured out - food, heat and NASCAR! I enjoy your blog Clare, it reminds me of our expat time in France. Good luck in the competition!

Paul Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

This is a really nice insight into the mindset of young expatriate. A fun read.

Leanne Ferns wrote 10 years ago:

Wonderfully insightful post. I Love reading about all the adventures across the pond. It's great to hear what the children think of it all as well. Thanks for blogging!

Nicola Tatum wrote 10 years ago:

I love reading Clare's blog - most of the time that is, as sometimes reading about the amazing weather and scenery make me jealous we have to stay in the (lovely, of course, but not the same) UK! It's a great way to keep in touch with what they're all doing so it won't take a million years to catch up when they visit over Christmas. Having said that, I'm not impressed with the Americanisms creeping in to the spelling and language - and it happened so quickly too!!!!

Richard Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

My 6 year olds comment the other day during a blisteringly sunny Sydney day "Dad, where you grew up in England the weather was always broken wasn't it?" Kids are great observers

Zoe wrote 10 years ago:

I love reading Clare's blog. We have children the same age and its great seeing her families experiences in a different country and culture. I look forward to reading the next chapter.

Kelly wrote 10 years ago:

Makes me wish I could go out there!! Very well written and full of personality :)

Vicki Wright wrote 10 years ago:

This is a must read for anyone considering moving to a foreign country. It is wonderful to read about the day to day practicalities as well as the big adventures. It should inspire people to grab an opportunity like this when its given. Great work, Clare!

Anna wrote 10 years ago:

Another top blog. Clare's shared experience has helped many British Expats, and informed those considering the position. Sharing Oliver's thoughts was an inspired idea. Us expats really do come in all shapes and sizes!! Well done Oliver for sharing.

Laura Bensusan wrote 10 years ago:

A fantastic blog Clare. It's great to hear about your life out there from Oli's point of view. So pleased he loves life in the States x

Emma Raven wrote 10 years ago:

Interesting read. Clare's blogs always are. It's nice to read about how things are going and how life has changed since leaving the UK. Invaluable for families that intend to do the same.ngreat job Clare.

Jenny Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

I always like reading Clare's blogs, they keep me in touch with what's going on with my family stateside! Sounds like you've been to some great places and done some great things since you've been out there, be hard competition coming back to not so sunny England! J x

Chris Millard wrote 10 years ago:

It makes really good reading from a "normal" persons point of view. Travel books etc don't give a families point of view of living abroad. It's always a fun and interesting read!

Chloe Ramsbottom-Hill wrote 10 years ago:

I love reading Clare's blogs. Reading about the fantastic journey she and her family are on. This one is fab as you get to see things from a child's point of view and sometimes we tend to forget about the little people in our lives and how they might be feeling about life changing experiences.

Tony Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

Gotta love those Clare blogs, great hearing from my family across the pond and can't wait to see u guys at Xmas

Claire Blake wrote 10 years ago:

Very interesting to hear about the US from a British ex-pat - especially a seven year old one! As mother to a ten year old, I know kids have amazingly brilliant views of the world - well done Oliver (and Mum!) :0)

Rachel Withers wrote 10 years ago:

I loved reading this. As an expat myself, it is nice to hear things from a child's perspective. My children are still on the young side and would not be able to articulate their likes about SC as well as Oliver has here. It gives me hope that my children are just as happy here.

David Griffin wrote 10 years ago:

I guess there is just something cool about the thought of living elsewhere, somewhere unfamiliar with different attitudes and ways of life. We have two lads, slightly younger than Clare's clan but it's always interesting to see how they are adapting to the adventure that the family are part of. Always a good read and an opportunity to see that taking risks often leads to good times and what will undoubtably be lifetime memories. Cheers Clare

Keith Gosling wrote 10 years ago:

Brilliant insight of what the kids of expats go through. Well done and see you all soon

Emma wrote 10 years ago:

Fantastic blog love seeing what they get up to over in the us and have adapted to life over there xx

Michael Scholz wrote 10 years ago:

Nicely written! I find it very important to listen to your "expat children" as a move to a foreign country is often very hard on them.

Rachel Page wrote 10 years ago:

A great read and lovely to read something from a childs view on life and change

Hope wrote 10 years ago:

Great to see the US through a child's eyes. He seems to be making the cultural adjustment really well! I wonder what he'll think when he comes home for a visit? Glad all are having fun and enjoying the experience. :)

Carol Morley wrote 10 years ago:

I love reading Claire's blogs and to hear what the children think is great

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