Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Expat Q & A August: The Basics

I've been an expat for over a year now, and when I think back to my arrival I realize how hard on myself I was. I thought a month would be more than enough time to adjust to life in the New World. In reality, it took almost that whole year for me to feel settled, and well, at home.

But now I know my way around (more or less) so here's my rundown of day-to-day life somewhere on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Be sure to check out the other expat Q & A's over at Belinda's blog too, to see how expat life compares across the world.

1. What is your favorite food store in your city and why? 
Okay, first things first - I don't live in the city.
Shock! If you thought I lived in Philly, I'm sorry. I live very close to Philly, but not quite.
So my favorite food store is hard to choose, because there's an excellent variety of family owned markets and supermarkets. One of the most fun to visit is Wegmans, which I talked about before here.

2. For your answer to number 1 is it ok to buy the store brand items or do you pay extra for a name brand?
Wegmans is a high brand store - a bit like Waitrose or M & S in the UK - and there's so much to choose. You can try their food in their restaurants or their take-out counters, get fresh deli counter produce, name brand goods and imported products (including Jaffa Cakes, Irn Bru, and Ribena for likes of me). They also sell beer which, for a supermarket in PA, is a pretty big deal.

3. What do you think is the best way to get about your city? i.e. bus, bike, car, etc
If you live on the train line, then the rail system isn't too bad. Otherwise, out here, you need to drive. No question about it. One funny observation is that the closer to the city people live, even if they have a car, the less far they're willing to drive. My husband and I are very used to driving all over our county and the neighboring counties to get to where we want. What we save by living away from the city we spend right back in gas, but thems the brakes, and we get to see some great scenery to boot.

4. Which store do you turn to for basics like toilet paper or cleaning supplies?
I'm not going to lie, it's Walmart. We prefer to go to other stores for most things, but I'd challenge any American resident to truthfully say they don't make several trips to Walmart a year.

5. Where do you think is the best place in your city to get a cup of coffee (or beverage you prefer) and catch up with friends? 
Like I said, we're happy to travel across the counties to see our friends, and there's no one place that we go to on a regular basis. A lot of the small towns and cities have cute independent coffee shops, and Philly has brilliant bars, but the numbers of times we just end up in chain restaurants out in the suburbs… I still haven't visited this place yet. Can you believe it?!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Six Things about Gladley

Did you catch me on HuffPost Live last week? Here it is if you want to take a peek! It was great fun, and who'd have thunk you could be on a live chat show panel in the comfort of your own home, just hours after breaking down in the middle of an expressway? It was a pleasure also to meet the inspiring Kelli and John from The Sustainable Couple.

On Monday the wonderful Bonnie Rose tagged me in a quick Q & A. This little blog meme is springing up all over the place, but I actually like these sweet things because it shows what blogging is all about. So without too much more of a fanfare, here are six (oops, seven) things about me.

1. Who or what inspires you?
The poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It's universal, and a wonderful guide to living life.

2. One goal you would like to achieve before 2014.
I would like to buy a car. In cash. Regular readers of this blog already know that new immigrants to the US leave their good credit scores behind in their home country, and I've been considering the pros and cons of using a car to build credit.

Will I get a fancy car if I save and pay in cash? Nuh uh. But it'll be mine. Who knows, I might even get a stick so none of my US family and friends can use it ;)

3. What is something you love about yourself?
It's hard to define, but what I truly love about myself is that I'm dynamic and curious. If I don't know something, or don't know how to do something, I'll learn it. I love to learn as much as I can about something so I know what I'm doing.

It's something I always try to pitch to new employers because it makes me a really useful person to have around, especially in marketing and digital roles. I taught myself CSS last year. I'm currently learning some new tools for work purposes.

And then, when I broke my husband's car last week, I read up as much as I could about car maintenance and the model of the car. I didn't fix it myself, but I felt much more confident about talking with the mechanic. Next time, maybe I'll fix it!

4. Who has been your role model?
Pretty much everyone on my Facebook friend list. That's a strange thing to say, but I really admire so many traits in my friends and family. Sam's tough and wise. Judith's bright and adventurous. Jamie's driven and purposeful. They are all great motivators, even if they don't realize it.

5. Which blog are you in love with that you only found out about recently?
Probably SillyGrrl.com - but I need to have an afternoon to myself to catch up on reading my favorite blogs, I've been on the go so much lately!

6. When you struggle in life, what keeps you going?
Blah blah blah, cliche, my husband. We keep each other driven, which is - to me - a great sign that we work well together.

7. What hobby would you love to pick up?
A couple of years ago I learned a few chords on the ukulele, and I'd love to do that again!

Now, I think everyone under the blogging sun has done this feature now, but if you haven't, and you're reading this - consider yourself tagged! And you should comment below to tell me so I can go read it.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Gladley's going live, HuffPost Live!

First things first, I'm going to be live on TV (kinda) … tonight! It's a panel discussion tonight on HuffPost Live, 7.30pm EST. We'll be discussing the many advantages of long distance relationships, so do feel free to tune in online!

You'll also be free to laugh at my accent. It's gotten ridiculous these days, Americans often ask me now "where are you from?" out of genuine confusion. Where am I from? Suburban PA? England-then-Scotland? Whatever works.

I'm looking forward to my HuffPo panel appearance, which is soon to be followed by plenty of other fun things that I have in the pipeline. Life certainly has sped up in the past couple of months, and I have a lot of expattery to tell you about, from my experience so far with US healthcare, the differences between UK and US driving tests, that other time I was kind of an expat (that I forget about), and more.

In the mean time. I lied a bit when I said that our Sunday puppy wouldn't pose for us. Behold, our awkward family photos, 2013.
These were taken the same day, and were the best of the lot, believe me.

Oh, and the George Washington quotation - that was on one of our table settings at our wedding.