Moving Away: making the first new friends and the glow that comes with it

yankeebeanI’ve noticed my constant use of titles with colons included (:)  I think it’s something I’m going to just going to run with – let’s not over-analyse this…

All that aside, I want to start with a single statement…

Moving is hard.

I don’t mean hard because you have to transfer all your bills, or pack up all your stuff, or make a lot of phone calls, or find a new job (although all that stuff is huge pain in the arse).  I mean hard in a quieter way.  Hard after all that admin-crap is over with.

The ACT of moving is actually incredibly exciting (yes yes, stressful, too) but really freakin’ exciting.  There’s SO much to do, so much to think about, so much that you have to get done.  And SO MUCH GLORIOUS POSSIBILITY.  What there ISN’T a lot of is ‘time to think’.  What will it actually be like when we get there?  How will I meet new people?  How will I fill my time when I don’t know where anything is?  How will I deal with the inevitable loneliness?  How will I keep in touch with everyone that I’m leaving back in town #1?

THESE, my awesome peeps, are the issue that I DIDN’T think about when I was wrapping drinking glasses in last week’s newspapers and wondering if my broadband is going to be up and running in time in my new digs.

Well, tonight I jumped one of the post-moving hurdles – The First New Friends.

It’s been 6 months since we picked up and moved down south from the gorgeous York-iness, and I’ve been through the standard moving phases (another blog on my extensive history of moving later).  I’m familiar with the standard rate of meeting the first real friends after about 6 months – and today (6 months and 16 days after the move – 14 of which I spent out of the country), VIOLA!!  I think I’ve made the first real friends!!

I’m flippin’ GLOWING – Mr. Nice Guy and I just got back from having drinks with another couple and we had a GREAT time.  No awkward moments, no weird looks, just all laughing and all chatting all the time.

It’s one of the big moving hurdles that I’m feeling relieved to have completed – AND they’re successfully invited to my annual UK Thanksgiving extravaganza on 26th November.  Shameless friend-making… HUZZAH!!!

Causing A Scene: The ultimate weapon

yankeebeanAs Americans in Britain we have the ultimate weapon at our disposal…  the ability to cause a scene.  Grown men fear it, children run in terror.

I am, obviously, exaggerating wildly (one of my favourite things!) – but there’s definitely something to be said for this.  Many English people I know will put up with discomfort, incorrect orders, and social awkwardness to avoid causing a scene.  I’ve heard mums say in a hushed whisper to their kids, “Be quite this INSTANT, you’re causing a scene”.  I’ve heard people utter it as an intense threat or warning (yes, seriously), “You’d better do as I ask or I’ll cause a scene”

I’ve had this blog rolling around in my head for aaaaaages, now, but it’s never become fully formed enough to write.  That is, until this weekend (cue suspenseful music).

Let me set the scene for you:

I was in Oxford with Mr Nice Guy, we were visiting some friends and staying with them in their gorgeous mid-terrace just outside of Oxford city centre.  We’d just had an awesome dinner and were standing around in the kitchen, leaning on the counter tops,  sipping wine and chatting.  This kitchen is bee-YOO-tiful (I mean movie-style-instant-tourist-making European perfection).  Antique wood furnishings with large cracked ceramic handles, double french doors that open into the perfect wild garden, exposed wood floors that look ancient in-a-good-way.  You get the idea…

Anyway, so we’re all standing around and I notice Mr Nice Guy is shuffling his feet around.  Not in a way anyone would notice, it wasn’t like James Brown or anything, just a little shuffle…

I glance down at his feet and see what looks like a fried onion on top of his right foot.

I look at him and smile cos I thought he’d dropped some onion on his sock during dinner and didn’t know what to do about it – but I was met by his alarming expression.  As if he was trying to wordlessly say to me, ‘Oh my God, what should I do??’

The conversation goes on as normal for a few seconds while I’m glancing at Mr Nice Guys foot and trying to figure out what the hell is going on.  Mr NG still continues to chat with us all, but glances back at me again with the same wordless appeal for help.

No one else has noticed this mini-silent-exchange…

So I bend down mid-chat (no big deal) to take the onion of his foot, intending to throw it in the bin – when the onion moved…

It was a slug!  A SLUG!!

I

died

laughing

Mr Nice Guy had had a slug on his foot for God knows how long and had just continued to chat.

Why, you ask?

When I asked him later before we went to bed he said that he “didn’t want to cause a scene”. :D

Bless him…

Being an American in Britain makes you accidentally sexy

yankeebeanDon’t deny it – whatever you’re accent weakness is, you know it’s there (you minx, you)

For many many many (freakin’ MANY) Americans, their weakness is the English accent.  And rightly so, might I add – English people can say almost ANYTHING and it sounds good.  ‘Bastard’ and ‘asshole’ are prime examples (pardon my not-french).  Not the friendliest or most pleasant of words, but said in a posh English accent it’s instant class… ok, maybe not class – but you get what I mean…

Bizarrely, this attraction can be the same in reverse – I’ve met countless English people that seem to think the American accent is the equivalent of a chocolate covered strawberry.

Now I’m about as ‘taken’ as they come – I’m hitched to an awesome Brit who’s the best ever.  As  a result, I think I tend to radiate ‘unavailable’ like it’s stamped, glowing across my forehead.  Everyone that knows me knows that I’m uber-taken, and that I’m crazy about Mr. Nice Guy.  I wonder if that’s why people feel comfortable enough to tell me when they think my accent is cute… although I always feel weird when it happens.  (To be fair, I think everyone involved does – it usually temporarily kills the conversation and causes some shuffling)

Here’s a list of some of the words that have caused said-shuffling:

  • Capo (American = KAY-poh / English = CAH-poh)
  • Tofurkey
  • Compost (American = KAAHM-post / English = COHM-pohst)
  • Capillary (American = CAA-pill-air-ee / English = cuh-PILL-ery
  • Route (American = RAOWt / English = ROOt
  • Tune (American = TOOn / English = CHEWn
  • Semi (American = SEH-my / English = SEH-mee)
  • Strawberry (American = STRAHW-beh-ree / English = STROO-bree)

I’m always surprised when someone thinks the American accent is particularly attractive.  I don’ think it’s bad or anything – it just seems so ordinary to me (for obvious reasons).

So, if you’re American and you want to be sexier, try moving to England.  All you have to do is chat and your accent will take care of the rest :)

Your negativity is eating my brain… stop it, I NEED my brain

yankeebeanRecently we had another cracking comment from one of my fave readers, ‘I Love This Blog’ (don’t worry ILTB, you’re not the one eating my brain, more on that later).  On our post ‘My English man and our long distance relationship‘ She said:

I was just wondering how your loved ones reacted to your moving overseas for love? Not that it’s really affecting my decisions, but most, nay-ALL, of my closest friends are 100% against the idea and think I will either have my heart broken or be sorely disappointed.. The only ones who support my decision are the ones who are completely right-brained, completely romantic, and have no grasp of common sense or logic (so, it’s a little disheartening..)

How did you do it? Did you find a job first, or did you just up and move? I’m a little nervous!

So many memories (good/bad/ugly) flooded in when I read this comment.  When it came to hopping-the-pond for love, my heart and my head were pretty much always in agreement.  It was my FRIENDS of all freakin’ things that made me wanna panic, unpack, and apply to work in the nearest global food chain.

There was no shortage of negativity – it came pelting in from all angles.  Even my best friend showed her disapproval just by keeping her mouth shut about it (y’know, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say’, yada yada yada).  Sometimes I felt like their negative monologues were actually burrowing into my brain… gross… too much information.

Negativity isn’t exactly what you NEED when you’re about to cram all of your belongings into two giant suitcases, say good-bye to your parents, hurtle through the air in a giant metal tube (I hate flying…), and stumble, bleary and unkempt, into the wonderful arms of ‘the reason for all this’.

I really de-railed a couple of times pre-move when my friends would launch in to a ‘This is never going to work and when it all comes crashing down you’ll be alone and penniless in a foreign country’ speeches.  SHUT UP, for God’s sake!!  I need SUPPORT right now!!  I’m about to move to a country that doesn’t even have a written form of their constitution!!  Can you freakin’ BACK ME UP for a minute here??  (That’s the sound of me derailing… sorry about the constitution snipe)

At the end of the day (to use a most-excellent English expression), none of it ultimately stopped me from boarding the giant metal tube… I mean plane.  I tried to apply an ‘I’m rubber and you’re glue’ attitude to the whole friend-negativity-eat-my-brain mutiny.  Did it work?  I have no idea, but here I am!  And it’s good… it’s REALLY good…

Oh yeah, about the job hunting – I did look before I arrived, but I didn’t actually land a job until I’d turned up.  I’m sure you’ll find just the thing!  And if you need a shoulder for leaning or an ear for bending, we’re here!

Meeting People – Finally choosing to be fearless…

yankeebeanI started to write a comment in response to Lisa’s comment on the About page – but it was so long that I thought maybe it should be a post.  Lisa was talking about the possible frustration of trying to fit in and wondering how long it should take?  And if we should ever throw in the towel and head back home…

My heart goes out to you, Lisa, because I know how hard it can be to make friends.  I currently have a new theory that I’m testing and it’s based on another reader’s comment on a previous blog.  Basically I’ve decided to not give up… and it comes in two stages.

Stage One

First I have to find people… and this won’t happen if I’m sitting at home. So I’m doing the following things to make sure that I see groups of people regularly:

1) Going to lots of networking events related to my job.

It may be workworkwork, but they’re still human and I always try to get people talking about their hobbies or their families instead of their business.  How knows, maybe I’ll meet someone cool?  If you don’t know about any networking events near you just search for “networking [your location]” in Google and you’ll find something.

2) Joining my local Weight Watchers.

I’ve been a ‘Weight Watcher’ for about 3 years now and I’m still at my goal weight.  This means I don’t have to go to meetings anymore, but I’ve decided to join up again just to try and meet some lovely ladies.  WW meeting always involve laughter and chatting so it seems like it could be a good way to meet people. (And get support, too!)

3) Going to my local church

Of course, pick the faith that fits, but then check out your local service.  I just found a church near me that has a tea and coffee hour after the service and everyone mills around and chats.  Last week I stood on my own for about 3 minutes and then someone walked right up to me for a chat.  I’m gonna have another go this week :)

4) Looking for hobby-related groups that meet up.

Previously a reader suggested meeting up with people you have things in common with (other than just being American) – Once I read it it seemed so obvious that I couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t tried it before.   DUH!  So I’m going to look for a casual band to join up with (although music is my business, it’s also my hobby).  And I’m going to check for a local crochet/knitting group and see if there’s room for one more.  Hopefully it’ll lead to some coffee-based-friendship. :)

Stage Two

The second stage is just as important… I’m going to try and meet up with every human person that I come into contact with (without seeming stalker-ish) and see what happens.   If we sit and drink an awkward cup of tea for half an hour, that’s fine, I just won’t invite ‘em over again.   If we laugh a little and only talk over each other half the time, maybe I’ll text them and we’ll have another cuppa sometime.  My new mantra is to ‘go with the flow’ and to not try to force any square pegs into round holes.

If English women seem stand-offish, I’m going to take it at face value and not read too much into it.  If I feel ‘too American’ sometimes, I’m going to let myself feel a little silly and laugh at myself… and then GET ON with it and see what happens.  This is my new plan… I’ll keep you posted on progress!!

A Reader in London Ponders a Return Back to her Native Texas

yahooavatar15Us three ladies on this blog get to know many of your worries. We’re glad that you can trust us enough to share your thoughts and troubles-we get many stories about your experiences in the UK. Believe us, we love it and don’t mind if you need a place to vent (see our strap line above for verification!). In our short 6 months of blogging we have 6,000 readers a month now come visit us and some leave us stories (we’re chuffed!). From your worries about UK visa approval, to your British partner’s hygiene, to your homesickness, to your long-distance trans- Atlantic relationships, to being broke and not having enough to eat, to not being able to get a job, to not making friends in the UK, to moving your child here, to the bad weather, to ranting about Bed and Breakfast etiquette (oh wait, that last one was just me)— WE’VE READ IT ALL!

From our About page Lisa writes:

“hi, I’m glad I found this site too! I’m an american who has lived in Greater London for 9 years now (married a brit). In all this time, I still haven’t met any good friends (keep in mind, we have a 6yo daughter so I’ve been and done all the baby/toddler group mingling as well). I’ve got 1 friend, if you can call her that, whom I go shopping with occasionally and that is it…and she only calls me when her man isn’t busy spending time/money with her. The “aloofness” of UK girls is REALLY getting to me…I want to find some girlfriends who will just open up and chat, chat, chat! Because I feel isolated, I often find myself wanting to uproot and take my daughter back to Texas so I can see my parents and friends again. It is so hard b/c financially, my husband and I are better here. We have an age gap and he would find it too difficult/expensive in TX. So if I did move, he’d stay here. That would NOT be good for our daughter….so I’m feeling very torn right now. Any tips how to get over all this??”

Lisa, I completely understand your feelings! In fact, we have posted about some of these situations ourselves. Just know you are NOT ALONE! You might find some of our posts helpful:

So, in closing and as we grow in readership I want to ask the sassy-brilliant-and-smart-as -a-whip-She’s Not From Yorkshire community what would you answer to Lisa in London?

First impressions of living in the South

yankeebeanI’ve now lived in the South of England for about 2 glorious-sun-filled-but-lonely-for-my-York-people weeks.  Now that the ‘moving’ exhaustion, muscle strain and caffeine/sugar coma have subsided – I think it’s starting to sink in that I live here now.  That’s good… because I do…

So what are the differences that I’ve noticed so far?

  1. More sun! – I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact that we just left a York Winter for a Southern Spring, but statistically we’re living in the sunniest city in England and it’s FREAKING HEAVEN!!  Almost every day we wake up to the sun – or if we wake up to the rain, half the time it burns off to a sunny afternoon.  It is, in a word, AWESOME…
  2. Bzzzzzzzzzz – The buzz here rocks my world.  It feels like there’s so much going on and, even if I decide to stay home and read, I can still FEEL the buzz (in a good way – not in a distracting way).
  3. Neutral territory – My husband, Mr. Nice Guy, and I had the ‘where should we live’ debate when we were coming to the end of our long-distance relationship.  I move to York initially because that’s where he lived and it was easier for me to go through the immigration process here than vice-versa.  But it was tricky moving into ‘his world’ where he already knew his way around and also had an established set of friends that I had to ‘slot into’.  It took a long time for me to feel comfortable there.  But the South means a clean slate for the both of us and it’s ‘our place’ instead of just his or mine.  It’s been awesome exploring a new place with Mr. Nice Guy and I can already feel that it was the right thing for us.  Woop!
  4. There is no place, there’s only people – My biggest complaint about the South is that all the people that I love didn’t move here, too.  Despite all my campaigning and coercing, not one single person packed up their stuff and piled into the moving van with us.  I’m definitely missing everyone already – especially my fellow American ladies – and I keep reading the ‘meeting new people‘ blog entry to motivate myself to ‘get out there’ and get started.

These are just the initial thoughts about the South vs. North from my POV – oh and I think I prefer the Yorkshire accent :)

I don't live in Yorkshire anymore…

yankeebeanAlthough I don’t usually post personal stuff, this will be relevant with regards to future  blog posts – so here goes!

As of yesterday, me and Mr Nice Guy packed up all of our stuff and hit the road.  We drove away from Yorkshire and headed down South to find our fortunes!

Why?

  • Closer to Mr Nice Guy’s family
  • Good for web design
  • Good for music
  • Closer to everything

How’d it go?

  • The move went like clock-work
  • I discovered muscles upon muscles that I didn’t know I had
  • I ate a lot of sugar and caffeine
  • At the end of it all we arrived in a big city down South and collapsed in an exhaustion-and-white-wine induced heap…

What next?

Well, now, I don’t know… now we arrange the new apartment to our liking, find new restaurants, try to meet new people (I’m going to try out first-hand the suggestions we’ve had about meeting new people), miss the people we got to know and love in York (and try to convice them all to move south, too – this means you, peacfulyorkshire!!), and generally just ‘go with the flow’

What about the blog?

I think us three girls always knew that our lives would take us in different directions, but this won’t effect the blog or the blog title in anyway.  Although I don’t live in Yorkshire anymore, my personal adventures of being an American in Britain will continue!  If anything, our blog will become more diverse with one ‘correspondent’ in the North, one in the South, and one back at ‘home base’ in America – I’m looking forward to seeing the different perspectives already!

But right now I’m writing this surrounded by boxes and dust so I’d better get started trying to sort it all out…  here we go!

How do you find people in Britain who make you happy when you've just moved?

yahooavatar15“Wordgoddess”,  wrote us on our about page last week about being new to Skipton:

“To wit, it seems to be easy to make acquaintances BUT, it’s much harder to make friends. I’m not working so I have no co-workers, I only see my fellow students once a week and I spend most of my time alone. I’ve gone to my local – but people there are already in couples or groups. Since, I’m in my mid-50s, hanging out at a club to meet people isn’t really a viable option. (Not without looking like a cougar in search of young meat – which I’m not.)” I am writing about Wordgoddess because her situation is not a new one for any expat.

There is a really cool blog called Zen Habits, have you seen it? This post (you can see it on his blog here) caught my eye because it seemed really apt to living in a foreign country– the blog’s author Leo writes:

“How do you find amazing people who will make you happy, when you’re in a new city and don’t know anyone?

Recently reader Ting asked:

“I’ve been studying in a new city for about 6 months now, and I’m considering finding a job after my studies are over. I have this conflict, that I can’t seem to resolve in my heart.

I truly believe that the people around you, make your life worth living. I haven’t met the type of people I’d like to in this city, yet. And I’m afraid I won’t after I’ve committed to a job. I want to be able to be okay with myself, without having to depend on friends/people to be happy. I love this city. But I haven’t found the people that I love.

Should I try to stick it out, work towards separating happiness from friends? (Maybe I just haven’t been going the right places?) Or, should I go somewhere else and try something new?”

I was contemplating this reader’s question, trying to think of what I’ve done in my life that has worked. But then I thought, ‘I bet my readers can come up with many more answers, more intelligent answers, than I can.’ And so I’d like to leave this question to you, my wonderful and wise (and incredibly attractive) readers: How would you answer Ting’s question?

—-

Here at She’s not From Yorkshire we had a really caring reader comment on moving to Australia,  and I liked one of her ideas to meet friends. “Happy”, an English expat in Australia writes that she ” invited round practically everyone I met (they must have thought I was mad!)”.

So in keeping to the spirit of Leo’s blog, What are your ideas?

An Englishman, an American and a German walk into a pub…

yankeebeanLast night I went to the pub with Mr Nice Guy and a very good friend of ours that’s visiting from Germany.  It wasn’t your average Friday-night-pub-jaunt, and I actually thought it was really amazing and eye-opening experience.

I’ll call our German friend Anna, and she’s an amazing person that’s very comfortable with herself and likes to have a good debate.  But when chatting with her, there’s never even a hint of conflict.  She has an amazing gift to talk about potentially irk-some things without ever sounding accusatory.  It’s an art… she’s a genius…

Over three hours we discussed a handful of wars – WWII, the Cold War, the American Revolution – we discussed the effects of the Berlin Wall, Barack Obama (and the election process), and more and more and more and more…  Oh, and we also talked about other less meaningful topics like mixing electronica with music from the 1930′s and crochet (it wasn’t just a giant history-fest)

And while discussing politics (and a little bit of religion), never once did the atmosphere congeal into discomfort.  No one was ever offended or upset by what was said.

One of the main reasons, I believe, is that none of the criticism was directed at ‘you’.  I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have replaced the word ‘America’ with ‘you’ when we’re talking politics – ESPECIALLY when talking about the war in Iraq.  And I wonder (although I didn’t ask) if the same ever happened to Anna while she was living in another country.

But there was no accusation, no arguing, no tension… just talking, debating and learning.  It was AWESOME…