Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Perspective Series-To Scotland and Back

This week I'm so excited to introduce the writer of one of my favorite blogs, Rachel from Postcards from Rachel, for the next installment of the Perspective Series. This is a series about expats sharing their experience of living and traveling abroad and how it inevitably changed their outlook and perspective on life. I always love looking through Rachel's gorgeous photos and reading about her latest world adventure with her husband and little Westie dog. Take a look as she describes her trials (so glad to know someone else has had mold and space issues!) and blessing through living abroad.

Hi, Lost in Travels readers! I'm Rachel and I blog over at Postcards from Rachel. Chelsea invited me to her blog today to discuss being an expat and I'm very excited! I want to discuss why we moved, some of the highs and lows, and things we weren't necessarily prepared for:

My husband and I made the decision to move to Aberdeen, Scotland right after our wedding and honeymoon because we wanted a change. We were both living in Washington, DC and I wasn't particularly happy with my desk job, so it was the perfect timing -- plus, we both wanted to travel. My husband accepted a field position with his company and we began to prepare. We got back from our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and I had my last day of work, then we emptied the contents of our apartment into a storage unit, packed a couple of bags, and waited for our UK visas and plane tickets to be issued. They were a week late. This wouldn't have been a problem if we hadn't packed up our bed and TV already. After sleeping on the floor for a while and being completely bored while B was at work, we were finally on our way to Bonny Scotland!

Our first order of business was to find an apartment, and unfortunately, no one warned us that we would be moving at the worst time of the year. All of the University students were moving back into the city and every apartment we viewed was snatched up within minutes. We even offered more money and still couldn't secure the flat we wanted. We ended up living in two different hotel rooms {small rooms!} for two weeks while we frantically searched. We eventually found a place close to the main street and waited for someone to fix the black mold issue. Eek. This brings me to the first issue I had to get used to: living arrangements. The location of our flat was wonderful but the inside contained a lot of black mold that made my allergies go crazy, a washer/dryer combo that flipped, ripped and burned your clothes, no dishwasher, a very small sink to do dishes in, and a bathroom sink that would become the bane of my existence. Of course I'm being a bit dramatic, but when you have a separate hot and cold tap on your sink, you're either getting frost bite or second degree burns while washing your face. You're supposed to technically fill up the basin with water to do your washing, but that's kind of gross in a rental, no? Anyway... After a couple of weeks of people blowing us off and men randomly entering our flat while I was in the shower, the rotten ceiling was finally fixed!

Immediately I realized that I would have to deal with a few other things, too. I could NOT understand thick Scottish accents, which made me feel completely hopeless, and finding things I needed for recipes at the grocery store was a challenge. The accent issue got better with time and I eventually started cooking by throwing things together, which made for better meals, anyway. I also had to find hobbies because going from a job that requires you to put in a lot of time to being unemployed was difficult {I took up photography and we got a Westie pup}.

We were scheduled to live in the UK for only 6 months, but at the end of our field package, B ended up accepting a rotation with the same company. They extended our stay to 12 months and we were required to go through the long visa process again. After dealing with a lot of paperwork, we were able to schedule a ton of trips that were once in a lifetime. We were able to travel to Turkey, sunny Morocco {which was great because the gloominess of Scotland really gets to you}, Italy and eleven other countries.

I could write so much more, but I'll just say this: Although living in a different country was tough at times, it was the best decision we've ever made as a couple. We both became less materialistic and focused on life experiences instead. We were able to stay in a very small apartment and learned to live out of a backpack when we traveled. And because we depended on each other so much, we grew as a couple -- and occasionally fought a lot. ;) We are back in the United States now and it's nice being able to talk to my parents on the phone whenever I want {and hey, we have a HUGE fridge and a working dishwasher.. awesome!}, but I miss the charm of Europe. I have a feeling that in a couple of years, we'll be living abroad again.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about Scotland, feel free to contact me!
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Thanks so much for writing Rachel! Be sure to stop by her blog to check out her awesome travel adventures and beautiful photos! 

If you have lived abroad and would like to be featured please email me at lostintravelsblog@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you!

You can read more of the Perspective Series here

Linking up with Shanna