Today’s Expat interview is Michelle Garrett, an American writer who has lived 19 years in the UK and now calls this previously foreign country ‘home’.
- Name: Michelle Garrett
- Occupation: Writer
- Current Location: Chelmsford, UK
- Originally From: USA
- Expat Locations: United Kingdom
- Website: michelloui.blogspot.com
- Twitter: @Michelloui
How did you become an expat, and why?
During university I moved to Britain to study for six months. I lived in a castle in Northumberland. I was enchanted by the beautiful countryside, I enjoyed learning the differences in the people compared to back home, and I became accustomed to the world view of the Britons. I fell in love with a local lad, and after returning briefly to the States to finish my degree I married my English boyfriend and we moved to London. We always thought we would move back to the States… but then I began to develop a life in Britain and now I call it home.
Where else have you been an expat?
I have only been an expat in Britain.
Best piece of expat advice you’ve received?
A woman I worked with briefly, a backpacker from New Zealand told me once, ‘Imagine yourself old, very old and imagine your old self speaking to yourself of today. What advice would you give?’ That’s usually the advice I take; it’s often different to what I originally thought I should do.
Best piece of expat advice you’d give?
You’ll never regret it if you try living abroad, but you’ll always wonder if you don’t.
Favorite expat related web sites?
- For excellent writing I enjoy reading, one English expat’s experiences in France: http://drowninginfrance.blogspot.com/
- For a really interesting, well constructed site for expat mum’s I enjoy: http://www.expatmumsblog.com/
Are you planning or dreaming of a move? Are you going home instead? Where to and why?
My husband is an Intensive Care hospital doctor and one day we would like to take a break of six months to two years from his regular work and go to India to help set up an Intensive Care Unit.
Why India? It’s different to anywhere I have lived. We stayed in India briefly a few years ago and would enjoy the experience of getting to know a part of the country much more than the superficial impressions we get from traveling.
Tell us more about what you do in your location?
I love history and living in Britain I have been able to explore that interest more than I ever could living in Minnesota. I have also developed a new interest, landscape history. When going for a walk through the countryside we can look at the pattern of trees at the edge of a forest, or the depth of a well-used path and compare these to satellite images and work out how the land was used centuries earlier, e.g. where a Roman road ran, the grounds of a former Tudor Palace, or the outline of a Roman Villa in a friend’s field. Fascinating stuff!
It’s entertaining to get to know one’s environment on such a multifaceted level and gives one a much greater appreciation of human life and history. Knowing the history of a place, including the landscape history, contributes to an understanding of the people who live there today.
Would you recommend your current location to other expats? Does it rock or does it suck?
I live in Essex, in the UK. I love it because we have beautiful countryside, friendly people, fascinating history, interesting things to see and we’re within an hour of London–the most fascinating city in the world. Also, we’re within an hour and a half to three international airports, two Eurotunnel stations, major rail networks and major road networks so we can get to the rest of Britain or the world quite easily.
What is the expat community like where you are?
Most expats where I live have mixed fairly thoroughly with the locals, but a few of us have found each other through the school mum network. Although I don’t know any other American expats in my area, I do have several expat friends from other countries who are married to Britons. We don’t always express ourselves as expats, but fromtime to time we get ontot he subject of the British and the difference between our native country and Britain. Generally, we miss more sun and we enjoy British eccentricities.
Thank you, Michelle for participating in our Expat Spotlight! We wish you success and happiness in your current location, and wherever your dreams and business endeavors take you.