I’ve been meaning to kick off this new feature on the blog for ages but something has always come in between, regular blogging, work, life in general etc. Finally it’s here, my new blog feature: ‘Expat Interviews’. I’m an expat myself (originally from Sweden if that’s escaped you) and I always like to share experiences of moving here with other people who have done the same. Why not better also share it with everyone reading my blog?!
I’m hoping to feature one interview every month. An interview with an expat blogger who now lives somewhere in the UK, about why the moved, how they’re settling in but also give tips on what you should do if you visit their home country. If you fit in with that description and would like to be featured, give me a shout.
I’m proud to announce, that the first interview is with lovely Carolin Schroeter, originally from Berlin but now lives and works in London, where she also writes Style Lingua. I’ve never met her in person (would love to), only over Twitter and through her blog. I love all the pretty dresses she wears and the vibrant and colourful photo shoots across London. I hope you’ll enjoy to get to know her a little bit better.
Expat Interview with Carolin from Style Lingua
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Carolin, a fashion loving linguist originally from Berlin. I’ve been living in the UK for around two years and since last November, I can call London my home. In the day, I work full time in SEO for a digital marketing agency in Central looking after various clients in the fashion and lifestyle industry. When I’m not stressing over Excel spreadsheets, analyse data, optimise or translate websites, I love writing about my latest ootds, fancy blogging events or reviewing films.
2. How would you describe your blog and what can people expect to read about there?
My blog Style Lingua is a personal fashion, film and lifestyle blog. I write about things I care about and I’m interested in. I cover mostly my daily outfits, review films or attend London-based blogging and lifestyle events such as London Fashion Week. I see my blog mainly as my hobby as it relaxes me to write and I’ve developed useful skills from it. It is my creative outlet and research project, as I’m also interested in text analysis and how an audience can be engaged through various different text and content forms.
3. Talk us through your thought process and reasons for moving to England and how you ended up in London.
I fell in love with London during a school exchange in 1999. I was so fascinated by the vibrancy and energy of the city that I always wanted to return to it. I did in 2005 when I attended an International Language School and further got to know the British culture and language. There’s simply no place like London with its diverse and vibrant character. The city never fails to impress and I regularly find myself discovering new parts and sides of it –even after all those years.
Moving back to London was in fact one of these unexpected moments in life: a Tweet last summer advertising an attractive job opportunity literally changed my entire life from one day to the other and I’m grateful for every day that I can now spend living at this exciting place of the world!
4. What do you love about living in England?
I have a very weak spot for Cheddar cheese and scones with clotted cream. Food aside, I love everything about the beautiful English language with its simple structure, soft sounding words and the manifold variants in accents and dialects. Britain’s countryside has this romantic charm to me with shabby chic cottages nestled in a lush, wild Rose Garden. Especially the area around Stratford-Upon-Avon has this old, stereotypical English character of perfect idyll to me. From enchanted forests to magical medieval castles and the white cliffs of the coast – Britain is a magnificent country full of beauty and fairy tales.
The British culture fascinates me as it is marked by a long tradition, influential literal heritage and a rich royal history. The nation is very modern and dynamic, something that I miss(ed) in Germany. Whereas Germans are practical orientated and slow in adapting to change, Brits are open to new exciting lifestyle ways through e.g. modern technologies and fast forward fashion sense. To me, living in Britain has helped me tremendously in being comfortable with myself just the way I am.
5. What are common questions you are asked by English people when you say you are from Germany?
“You’re German? – Really?” or “No way, you’re German?!?”. Most Brits have been very positive and polite. Some even start talking some German phrases that they’ve picked up in school, which is always very sweet. Older generations tend to ask me about the war and Hitler, which can be a bit awkward, as this is a part of German history I don’t relate to.
6. What are the main culture shocks you’ve had moving to England? Is there anything Germany has that you wish England had?
The main culture shock was facing the Housing Crisis. I’m used to living in my own flat since the age of 18, as Germany has an extensive renting system. Coming to the UK and not be allowed to have my own place was a massive come down and setback in my personality. It was so, so hard to find a place to live. No job without a permanent home, and no home without a job – a circle hard to break through!
British people are forced to live with their parents long after the age of 18, whereas at this age, I had to run my own two bedroom household, understand tenancy contracts, take full responsibility of the flat, pay bills whilst study full time. Germans don’t buy houses, there’s no need as renting is a (mass) business and therefore (reasonably) affordable. We have unlimited contracts, which means no hassle and no random tenancy checks as it is in the UK (which make you feel like a 5 year old that needs to be checked on).
Another thing that I really miss is German efficiency. Certain practices and ways of ‘doing’ simply won’t work in England as everything is solved short-term rather than going to the core of a problem and solve it long-term. Drives me mad sometimes! Especially British heating systems (they never work), girls wearing no jackets in winter on a night out, windows which only open 5 cm or juggling change at the supermarket (first notes, then coins on top WTF?!?) are things which I will never understand.
7. Have you considered moving back to Germany?
Moving back to Germany is only an option if I can no longer afford living in the UK. Apart from that I don’t miss it at all. Germans have some character traits, which I don’t share and absolutely refuse so living amongst them has actually made me feel depressed for most of my life. Whenever I lived in Britain, however, I felt more relaxed and accepted as the person that I am which has supported my personal growth.
8. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice prior to moving to England, what would that be?
Be prepared for some serious WTF moments, but an experience of a life time.
Haha, seriously I would never do anything differently.
9. What’s not to miss in Berlin and Germany when visiting?
Berlin – have a stroll around Tiergarten, enjoy the view from the column of Victory, celebrate New Year, order a hot cherry and vanilla ice cream cup from Gelato at Potsdamer Platz.
German in general – come in the summer (30 degrees +) and cycle around or simply enjoy the beaches and BBQs. Come in winter ( -10 degrees) for the authentic Christmas market experience and skate on an ice-ring that you don’t have to share with thousands of people, see Dresden and the historic medieval city core, eat hot boiled potatoes with quark or simply indulge in a German roast (duck/rabbit with boiled potatoes, gravy and red cabbage).
Thank you Carolin for sharing your thoughts on being an expat in the UK! I hope you all enjoyed that! Stay tuned for the next one.