My Expat Story

The other day Swedish expat Sandra, who is adjusting to life in Boston after a big move from Zurich, tagged me in a post about expat stories. Sandra writes some funny and thought-provoking stuff about life in the US at her beautiful blog Going American, and asked other expats to answer 10 questions about their experiences.

Since we’re all expats here (some in spirit), I thought I’d share my answers with all of you, and hopefully hear some of your stories in response! 
  1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
    I was born in Sydney, Australia back when fluro tracksuits were cool and ALF was on TV. I loved that little alien dude. I grew up in that same house in western Sydney, apart from a stint spent in Malta with my Dad’s family – learning about the important things like fireworks, how to eat copious amounts of bread and driving a go-kart the length of the roof and back.
  2. What made you leave your home country?
    My first expat experience was to London – it’s almost a rite of passage for Australians (or it was in my day). I wanted to broaden my horizons and experience living in a completely different country on the other side of the world. Mission accomplished.
    Moving to San Francisco was about my career and love of travel. I’d spent a lot of time traversing Europe and now it’s time to do the same in the US.
  3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?
    Americans tend to love Australians. I’m not sure why. I get a lot of “crikey”s and questions about deadly animals. Sometimes they just ask me which part of Australia I’m from and let me continue on my merry way.
    Other times I get a rendition of their best Aussie accents. To this day I get a visit from a colleague once a week to regale me with his awful accent. It’s British. The more I tell him that it’s British, the more he assaults me with it.
  4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?
    The hardest part in the US is all of the paperwork. Setting up bank accounts, phones, internet, utilities and buying a car all require a credit history – and of course us expats don’t have a history here. It can be a total pain in the butt.
    The easiest part for me was making new friends at work. I find lots of people to be really friendly in the US, as opposed to my experience in the UK, which wasn’t as rosy on the friend-front.
  5. Images, word or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.
    Super: The descriptor used by every Californian about anything.
    Store: Stores not shops.


  1. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?
    That’s so tough. I love all foods and I really am loath to pick a favourite. However, I guess Mexican food has become my new favourite over here. It’s really difficult to do it badly and a lot of places in California do it so freaking well.
    I’ve also discovered Moscow Mules here – and that’s a big feat considering I’m really not much of a drinker at all.
  2. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?
    No, seriously. I’d never eat it in Australia – wouldn’t even look at it. But then we went to Maui and I tasted some. Now I can’t get enough of pineapple.
  3. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?
    Hmm. It’s all pretty mild over in San Francisco. I honestly can’t think of anything that really annoys me. I know some places are harder to adjust to than others, but I’ve been very lucky with California.
  4. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?
    Exploring and hiking are my two favourite things to do here. It seems that people here are big on the outdoors aspect of life, which suits me fine.
    I grew up on a farm on the outskirts of the Sydney suburbs and I’m used to wide open spaces and working outside all day. So having so many well-maintained trails to explore is heaven for me.
  5. Do you think you will ever move home for good?
    This is the third time I’ve been asked that question this week. The short answer? I have no idea. I mean the plan was always to go home, and in some ways it still is. But who knows what life will bring? I’m not a big planner, I like to see what happens. And this will hopefully be the same.Are you an expat or a repat? Feel free to answer any (or all) of these questions in the comments or in your own blog!

    Linking up with The Ultimate Rabbit Hole.

36 thoughts on “My Expat Story

  1. Apart from the paperwork, I could totally live in San Fran, it's kind of like Sydney but bigger. And don't get me started on the Mexican food! So much yum! Oh this is so fun! I'm definitely going to try this on my own blog.Thanks for the inspo!

  2. I left my heart in San Francisco, I truly did, such an awesome place and I totally agree it is a lot like Sydney. Loved reading about your expat stories, enjoy your weekend xxx

  3. It was really good to learn more about you and your motivation for what you have done and are doing. Sounds like your choices are working out well for you in your now "not so new city' too. Good on you! Denyse

  4. It's great to get to know you better Kat. You sound like an adventurous spirit and that is a wonderful quality. I enjoyed my visit to San Francisco in 2012 immensely. I could return here any day. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  5. I think that European towns can be tough to move to, especially if you've been away for a long time. My parents are from Malta, and even though I've been there (soooo) many times, I don't think I'd really ever be accepted or fit in if I moved there. All the best to you Mary!

  6. You're very lucky to have lived in the UK and now the US. I've only ever lived in Australia and always in Queensland (mostly Brisbane). My sister was in San Francisco recently and had a fabulous visit! #TeamLovinLife

  7. While I love travelling, I've never had the opportunity to live in another country for an extended period of time… although I would certainly consider it if the circumstances were right. I do love San Francisco too 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  8. My niece is doing her trip/work in the UK where she has also found love. Very happy for her…now all the paperwork trail starts for staying in UK via grandfather born and living in Hungary 🙂
    Great article

  9. I love reading all about expat stories. I was an expat kid and I really wanted to give my kids that experience but neither my husband or I had jobs that leant themselves towards moving overseas.

  10. I'm so pleased to have found your blog after you stopped by crestingthehill. I am in awe of your ability to have completely pulled up stumps and moved to the other side of the world! Really interesting to read what you find easy and what's different.

  11. Oh, that's so lovely of you Leanne, thank you! I think moving overseas gets more daunting as you get older and have more stuff to store or take with you? I'm lucky that I have a room at my dad's place in Sydney to keep things. It's a great adventure though 🙂

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