I often meet people through my blog whose experiences and adventures need to be shared.
Rachel is one of those people. I asked her to write about why she came to America, what she has found out so far, and specifically about Atlanta, where she is based. I’m heading to Atlanta for the USA Netball Championships in November, so I have a keen interest in the area. After all, I hear it’s significantly different from this East Coast part, and it’s always intriguing to hear what Brits have experienced in various parts of this vast land. Rachel writes a blog too, all about living there. It’s super fun!
This is Rachel’s American Ride So Far….
Hey! I’m Rachel and this is my first ever guest blog post so a big, huge, mahoosive thank you to UK Desperate Housewife USA for asking me to get involved!!
I’m a British expat who’s lucky enough to have waved goodbye to dull and rainy Blighty and set up home in hot and sunny Atlanta! I’ve been here for 8 months now and I’m loving every minute!!! And how did I get here? Well it’s all because of this man and frozen cakes!
Yep we made it to Atlanta because my lovely husband works for a frozen cake company! And yes we do get cakes and have to taste them to see if they’re good or not! Amazing I know!! One day he came home when we were living in our lovely flat in Leeds and said ‘We’re taking over the running of the American office, how do you fancy living in Atlanta?’ Well as you can imagine this didn’t take much thinking about! At the time I was working as a freelance journalist and after a few minutes of thinking (well actually it was more like seconds!) I said a big fat YES!!! And that was that, we were heading to the States, well once we’d been to the Embassy for our visas and had the removal men come around to pack all our stuff up!
So what’s life been like since I moved here? Well there’s been some culture shocks, some things I’ve embraced whole heartedly and others that I’m happy to just let pass me by! So here’s my list of the pros and cons of being an expat in Atlanta:
PRO: THE WEATHER
Now this is something I seriously cannot complain about! The weather here in the South is amazing!! Just about every day there’s bright sunshine and seriously hot temperatures! A definite culture shock from the dull, wet and miserable Leeds that I left behind in England!! A typical day in Georgia kind of looks like this:
Not a cloud in the sky! It’s definitely not something to screw your nose up at! But, and at the risk of the Brits back home saying ‘you don’t know how good you’ve got it’ it can get too hot! Especially in August, or the dog days of August as they’re called here in Hotlanta! It’s so hot you literally can’t do anything without getting hot and sweaty! Even walking out to the car is a huge task and if you sit by the pool you have to have a dip at least every 10 minutes because you just can’t stand the heat anymore! Right now I would say it’s a nice temperature, it’s in the high 80s meaning you can sit outside without ending up drenched in sweat (horrible visual I know! Sorry about that one!)
You can’t go for a walk without needing a complete change of clothes when you get back! Having said that, this year has been one of the worst summers for years..typical when we turn up! It’s rained more so far this year than the last 2 years put together – I’m blaming our British visitors! Every time they came so did the rain! Since my brother left about 3 weeks ago we haven’t seen any rain at all!! I think there’s something to be said for taking the weather with you!
CON: THE BUGS
Yep living here in the South there are LOTS of bugs and when I say bugs we’re not talking little tiny things that don’t bother you, oh no we’re talking HUGE ones that scare you to death!! In fact right now there’s a MASSIVE spider about to eat it’s pray on the other side of our porch screen, I’m just glad it’s on the other side of the screen! If it wasn’t I definitely would not be sitting here right now! There are also cockroaches. Yep you heard me cockroaches. They’re huge vile things and despite the apartment people spraying the place for bugs they still manage to get on the balcony and occasionally inside our apartment! It would appear the beautiful weather that I just branded a pro is to blame for these beasts too! Oh and I spotted this little, or should I say big guy on my way out the other day…
I have no idea exactly what he is but I know that I don’t like him!
PRO: THE OUTDOOR LIFESTYLE
The weather here in the South means you can spend a lot of time outdoors…something I am so grateful for! I love being outside, especially when it’s bright and sunny! There are loads of places here to take a walk, chill out, meet friends and just take in some of the amazing scenery! In fact here in Atlanta it’s like living in a forest! There are so many trees you wouldn’t think you were living in a huge city that’s home to 6 million people! Here’s the view from my balcony…
Yep nothing but trees! In some areas of the city, one minute you can be in the middle of some huge skyscrapers and the next you can turn a corner and you’re in suburbia with huge houses surrounded by trees! Although if you’re a hay fever sufferer you’d probably class the trees as the biggest CON ever! Around Easter time the pollen starts to fall and literally leaves yellow dust over EVERYTHING! Sometimes it’s so thick you can see it in the air and feel it on our skin!! Eugh!
CON: YOU CAN’T WALK ANYWHERE
If you want to go somewhere in Atlanta you have to take the car. Simple as. Before we moved here we thought we could have one car to share like we did back in Leeds. Oh how wrong we were! Everything is a drive away. You want some groceries, you need to get in the car. You want to go for a walk, you need to get in the car to drive to the trail. You want to go on a bike ride, you have to put your bike in your car and drive to a bike trail. I kid you not!! That’s one thing I miss from back home, being able to take a stroll to the local pub on a Saturday afternoon or evening or walk to the shop for a few bits and bobs. If you go out at night somebody has to drive, taxi’s are also practically nonexistent, and the ones that are around are always a little bit dodgy! This also means that the traffic
here in Atlanta is horrendous!! Never ever leave the house during rush hour, or the three-hour rush hour that lasts between about 4:30 and 7:30pm. Your usual journey time will double and you’ll be crawling in traffic as far as the eye can see!!!
Yep as a (temporary) lady of leisure I’ve spent a lot of time shopping over the last few months (well not too much or my lovely husband would not be happy with me spending all his money on clothes!!) and believe me the shopping over here is good! Especially the outlets! If you go on the right days some stores can have an extra 50% off already discounted items, saving you loads on designer stuff! However it also makes you want to buy more because you think it’s such a good deal!! Whoops!
CON: AMERICAN DRIVERS
So when I came over here I had to get used to driving on the right hand side of the road and driving on the HUGE roads, and when I say huge I mean 6 lanes wide!!! I went from one extreme to the other and instead of having a small car like my little Peugeot I left back in England I joined the SUV club so that I could be high up and see more whilst I was driving! It made me feel so much safer!! Now I’m not saying every American is a bad driver, that is far from the truth but you do get the odd few who really don’t seem to know what they’re doing! And when they take their tests in a car park (yep, I got my Georgia driver’s license by taking my test in a car park and going on the road for 5 minutes and doing nothing but turning left!) there’s no wonder they struggle on the real roads! The majority of them don’t know what an indicator is and they often pull out in front of you without any notice on the highway! Just the other day I had to slam on my breaks as a woman pulled into my lane without indicating! Don’t worry I beeped at her!!
Then there’s the truly ‘Southern’ things we’ve experienced:
Now if you’ve read my blog you’ll know that half the time it revolves around food, not good when you have a wedding dress to fit into in a few months time!! Eeeeek! (Yes I am already married but seen as though we said ‘I do’ on a beach without anyone knowing we thought we’d do it all over again next year with our friends and family!!) And here in the South the food really isn’t helping me to fit into said dress! Everything and I mean EVERYTHING here is deep-fried!! Fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried pickle spears, fried okra, fried catfish…you get the gist! And then there’s the stodge…waffles, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, hush puppies, cornbread, tater tots, sweet potato fries…the list is endless!! And every single thing is delicious! Oh and it’s usually covered in cheese just to add that extra bit of tasty-ness and up the calories even more!!! And we can’t forget the weird concoctions that strangely work like waffles bacon and maple syrup…
I was adamant this combination would not work before I tried it. I mean sweet and savoury in my book should not go together but I was shocked…it actually works VERY well indeed! Then there’s the fried chicken and waffles, this one I still haven’t tried because I’m sure it won’t work! Fried chicken should be eaten with copious amounts of mac n cheese or fries, not waffles! But I’m sure one day I’ll be persuaded to give it a go and I’ll probably rave about how good it is!! Oh and there’s the HUGE portions…check out this salad I bought the other day…
Seriously who needs that much lunch? I think I managed just about half of it before giving up! In fact the portions are so big that most people take a goody bag home for later!! Definitely something you wouldn’t see back in the UK!
THE SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
Everybody down here is so friendly…they call it the Southern Hospitality! Wherever you go people ask how you are, strangers who you walk past say hello even though you’ve never met them before and flash you a smile! At first I found this strange and a little bit weird, bearing in mind I come from England where people are much more reserved!! But I’ve got used to it and now I kind of like it! I join in and give people a smile and say hello to random neighbours in my apartment complex! There are times when it can get annoying though, especially when you’re shopping! When I’m out clothes shopping I like to take my time, look slowly and without any interruptions…something that is not allowed in Atlanta!! As soon as you walk in the shop they pounce ‘How are you today?’ ‘Is there anything I can help you with?’ ‘Are you looking for something in particular?’ No! I just want to take my time and look at what you’ve got!! If I need some help, I’ll ask!! That also took some getting used to but I know how to handle them now!!
So there you have it…my take on life in Atlanta so far! There’s definitely still lots for us to experience here in the States but so far I’m liking what I see! We’ve already learnt a lot since moving over here and I’m sure we’ll be learning and embracing loads more in the coming months and years! We’ve become keen basketball and baseball fans and with the football (American not Soccer!) season now upon us my husband is trying to teach me the rules of American football…that one hasn’t got my attention just yet but I’m sure it will at some point!! And after living the life of a lady of leisure since moving here in January I’m now officially allowed to go to work thanks to my work permit arriving in the post a few days ago…I think my life here is about to change and with it will come a whole wealth of new experiences! And guess what…I can’t wait!!
I looove Atlanta, for all the reasons mentioned. I am fortunate that my favorite Aunt (and now deceased favorite Uncle) live there and I have occasion to visit. They live in the outskirts of Buckhead/almost the inner city, with parks galore. We can walk to museums, parks, shopping, or, um, bars. 😉 Little 5 Points, though touristy, is adorable. The food in Atlanta is perhaps better than (IMHO) New York (where I am from, so don´t get testy when I diss it). All different types too. I love that Atlanta “feels” like so many different places depending on where you are.
I can’t wait to go! 😉