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We know you lived in the UK before moving (back) to the States; how long did it take you to settle in to life in Orange County?
Although we were happy here as soon as we moved, I would say it's taken a good year to 18 months to really feel established. The boys have made genuine friends now, sleepovers and play dates are becoming more commonplace rather than just a token invitation because they're the new kid in town. School doesn't feel so alien any more; in fact I think the boys would probably think it strange not to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance.
I'm googling less things, which I think is a good sign! When I first lived here it was without children. I was working over here and although there were still lots of differences, with children, I'm constantly coming up against things I don't know about such as baseball cleats. We were told we needed them and I didn't have a clue what they were.
Anything you miss about British life?
I miss my friends most of all. I stay in touch with them as much as I can via email, Facebook and text but it's not the same as meeting up at the pub for a drink.
I feel I should say that I miss the BBC and newspapers but with everything being online now I'm able to read British news everyday and don't feel isolated. That said, I do wish BBC America would improve. I'm sure there are huge politics and budget issues behind their programming but it could be so much better. It also seems that there is a vast audience here in the States for BBC America, it could just be an excellent service.
What do you like most about the States?
I love the sense that you can achieve anything - try anything. I'm not sure if that is particularly a Californian thing or not but we seem to be surrounded by people who have wanted to create or participate in something and just do it. California seems to be full of over achievers!
Anything you dislike?
There must be something; I'm struggling to think at the moment. I think, for me, as an expat, my biggest struggle is my accent. I have been welcomed with open arms, no one makes me feel that I shouldn't be living here, but at times I just want to buy something in a store quickly without an inquisition. It drives me mad that I need to complete an entire questionnaire before I can get a glass of water. The answers are usually: British, I live here, I'm married to an American, yes I love it here, no I'm not homesick, no I don't know the Queen.
What do you think the USA could learn from the UK?
I wish they would learn how to do television news. The local news is dire beyond words and the world news isn't that much better. It's either too sensationalist or very US focused. Watching CNN report on Gordon Brown leaving office and Cameron taking over was painful beyond words. The presenter was really struggling to provide a running commentary on the events and let's face it, he'd had a few days to prepare!
And what could the UK learn from the States?
One of the things I'm most impressed by is an American's love for their country. Once you've celebrated the 4th of July amongst Americans or watched them say the Pledge of Allegiance, you can see how proud they are to be American. I admire that.
And the obvious one - service. On a trip back to the UK recently, I was staggered at how bad the service was. Americans get a bad rap for being insincere but everyone I've come across who have visited the States acknowledge that it's not insincere, it's excellent service. When you hear 'Have a great day!' they mean it, they really do want the rest of your day to be good.
Where do you think you will end your days and why?
Ooh, that's a really good question. I sound like some terrible retiring expat but I really love the weather in California and it would be really hard to leave that. However, I'd chosen the schools in the UK for the boys all the way up to 18, thought we were really settled and decided to throw that all up in the air and make the move to the US. So who knows? Hawaii? Australia? I'm now far more interested in living abroad and experiencing new environments.
Describe Americans in one sentence.
Compassionate, proud, tactile and giving.
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