Entries Tagged as 'Other Musings'

The longer you stay an expat…



Belem, Portugal // JessOnThames

The longer you stay an expat and the more you travel, I like to think…

…the more your curiosity grows.

…the more your grammar might suffer (am I speaking French French? Belgian French? Swiss French? England English?)

…you may realise, in the hierarchy of being able to dish out wit, Americans are not the highest ranking nationality on the planet.

…you will have sudden waves of homesickness.

…you laugh differently. But that’s not a bad thing.

…you keep making mistakes. Of the directional, linguistical, cultural, or other variety. But it builds character.

…you will have sudden urges to jump on a plane and go somewhere new.

…you’ll have moments where seeing something for the first time literally stops you in your tracks (and not only on safari when its natural…)

…your priorities will probably change.

…you will get overwhelmed.

…you will probably find perspective.

…you won’t take as much for granted.

…you will have eye-opening-perhaps-slightly-drunken conversations at 11pm in the middle of a dinner party where you try to defend the fact that you do not own a kettle, despite the fact that you live in England.

…you will then be shocked to discover others find this truly shocking…

…you may then, no less than 30 minutes later, learn some distant nationalities didn’t think chipmunks are real.

…you create your own versions of holidays which may just trump the usual ones (coming soon: a glimpse into #SinterThanksgiving)

…you learn new things. And you ask questions.

…you’ll look at home in a different way and both appreciate it and critique it more than you did before.

Either way, with all of its ups and downs, I can only come to one conclusion: expat life is a good thing.

This rather old-person-y reflective post kindly brought to you by a lovely weekend spent in the company of expats.

Photo taken in Belem, Portugal (JessOnThames)

The trials and tribulations of an expat Minnesotan in winter



Aurora Borealis in Alaska // US Air Force

London, I’m a bit upset with you.

You are so darn photogenic – do you have any idea how beautiful you would look with some snowfall?

These are views that some may find crazy but I’d like to think they are the natural thoughts of a Minnesotan-turned-expat.

When you live in Minnesota, you love the first snowfall. Because its usually more than a simple flurry that disappears overnight. (If its just a little flurry it doesn’t even count.) You wake up to a winter wonderland. You wake up to air that’s lost its noise. Everything’s muffled or crunchy when you walk on it. You see little tracks where critters have run across the back yard and you watch birds poke through the snow to get at pickings on the ground. You watch steam come out of chimneys across the neighborhood. And you brace yourself for a long winter.

Because that feeling quickly wears off after you’ve shoveled the driveway a few thousand times and you realise you’re still wearing a parka in early May.

Once you leave Minnesota, however, everything changes and you want nothing more than snow all the time. The air starts to cool, Thanksgiving is over and you are pulling out the Christmas lights… And that brings the challenges out for the Minnesotan expat.

Exhibit A: In which the Minnesotan believes its snowing on Oxford Street on December 1st

True story. Coming out of a quick work meeting around Bond Street, I was strolling down Oxford Street, passing the HMV, when I SAW THEM. Little specks of white floating gently in the light of a street lamp. Pretty sure I gasped out loud, jerked around wildly looking to see if anyone else was seeing what I was (thankfully, they were…) and immediately scribbled a text message to a work colleague (in all capital letters) proclaiming that it was SNOWING IN LONDON.

I wanted to declare a school day, heck – call a national holiday and think about sledding down Primrose Hill. (Side note, Brits, the word “sledging” just sounds wrong, sorry)

And that’s when I realised stupid Boots pharmacy had a really realistic snow machine going…

Exhibit B: Above manifestations of excitement about the potential of snowfall will inevitably lead an expat Minnesotan to wax lyrical stories about winters which will have all non-Minnesotans picturing scenes like the above.

Which is actually Alaska.

Minnesota is beautiful. But its not “Alaska beautiful”. And its pretty tough to see the Northern Lights except when they are extremely active up North.

Exhibit C: You find out its even snowing in Brussels of all places on December 2nd

And then you just feel life is unfair.

I jest of course (well, I wish I was joking about the Oxford Street incident), but it has struck me how years away from Minnesota has left me pining for a proper snowfall for the holidays. One that preferably doesn’t involve me launching myself down an Alp on skis. Just a good old, wake-up-in-your-own-home snow to watch over a cup of coffee in your pajamas. Snow to turn on some Christmas tunes to and decorate your Christmas tree.

COME ON London, do a girl a favor. Please :)

This post is part of the always fun travel link up hosted by Kelly, Emma, Rebecca and Sam – with this month’s theme being celebrating the holidays. I have not so much talked about celebrating holidays as I have ranted about snow… but aren’t holidays better with snow?

Photo credit: United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang

On blogging insecurity and inspiration




I’m sure I’m not alone in this but every once in a while I stop and wonder if I’m going about this whole blogging thing right.

One day I feel 100% inspired and the next I’m not sure what to write next. One day I’m incredibly proud of a photo I’ve taken and the next I’m annoyed because I just didn’t capture something the way I wanted to. I wish I was someone who has built the time in to blog everyday but I still haven’t found a way to do that, dedicate myself to my day job the way I want to and still have a social life. And make progress through my ever-growing reading list… ok, and catch Strictly every weekend…

I’m nervous about changing the blog but at the same time, I’m really tempted to kick it up a notch. I don’t want to lose what its always been up until now – a journal/project I’ve loved working on and a nice creative outlet away from work. But at the same time, I recognize with a little investment (of time and focus and organisation, let’s be honest, not money), this could actually become “something”.

There is so much I’ve done just since summer that I still haven’t blogged about yet that I sometimes have to ask myself what I’m waiting for: Our vacation in Cornwall, exploring English countryside mansions, more from long weekends in Lisbon and Amsterdam, a hilarious afternoon tea on a double decker bus and let’s not forget my newest love, Seville.

Either way, I know I’m not the only one who gets these little moments of blogger “folie*”. I like to think its these little moments when our brains run around in circles that something great happens in bloggerland. I’m working on some refresh ideas and some restructuring. I’m giving the blog a true identity and finally ordering business cards. Its exciting. And scary. And nerve-wracking. And fun.

At times, inspiration comes easily and then there are days when I need to shift my focus elsewhere and think about other things. Let my mind rest and discover new things and then come back refreshed.

I’ve been listening to the incredible storytelling on The Moth this weekend while I cooked my Thanksgiving turkey. The Moth is a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to storytellling, originally from New York. Speakers have to tell a story live without any notes. Some of the storytellers are famous like Ethan Hawke or Adam Gopnik or Philip Caputo. Many aren’t. These are stories that break your heart, that encourage you, that are empowering and sad, touching and funny. Most of them are incredibly brave. They are my favorite finds of November.

Listen to this story of a fishing trip gone wrong, or this one of a mysterious email or this one about finding family in Korea. Or my favorite one on stuttering and jaguars. (Just have tissues ready… they are all lovely in their own ways.)

So anyway, I’m rambling now. But I wanted to say: if sometimes this blog goes quiet for a few days, fear not.

I’m still here… just trying to figure out where to go next.

*folie – French for madness; as seen in some Parisian graffiti back in October

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