So the first expat interview in my new blog feature went really well. It had good response on social if anything and I’ve got some more lined up for you. Since I’m gradually posting a lot of updates from my travels to the US this month, I thought it would be suitable to feature Danielle Smith from Chiccadeedee, as she moved to Doncaster from the US five and a bit years ago.
I’ve been fortunate to meet Dannielle on two occasions and she’s as colourful in real life as her hair and it also shines through in her blog. Let’s find out why she decided to move to the UK and how she she’s settled in.
Expat Interview with Dannielle from Chicadeedee
1.Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Dannielle and I like visiting new places, coffee, and drinks with friends. When I’m at home, I’m normally cuddling our cats and checking Instagram. I’m originally from New York (upstate, not the city!) and have lived in England for 5 and a half years now, which seems crazy. I am a social media manager and recording editor, so basically always have a mix of random things to do every day which is good because I never get bored.
2. How would you describe your blog and what can people expect to read about there?
My blog is a mix of lifestyle and travel. Since moving to England I love using weekends as a chance to visit historical places, cute towns and occasionally take a trip abroad. We like to stay pretty busy, and I can’t get enough of country houses and hunting for castles.
3. Talk us through your thought process and reasons for moving to England and how you ended up in Doncaster.
I moved here for my boyfriend, and now that we’ve bought a house I suppose that means I’m staying! It was a long process though, we decided to go for a partner visa, which meant living together for two years before I could apply. I moved to England after graduating University for 6 months, my boyfriend then moved to America for 6 months and then we were stuck as we couldn’t live in each others countries anymore (they don’t make it easy!) So we researched places to live and work and ended up in New Zealand for a year, but that’s a whole other story. After that I moved to England and as my boyfriend is from Doncaster, it was a natural base. We looked into moving to London, but have you SEEN house prices there?! Needless to say, we bought a house in Doncaster and are super happy with our choice.
4. What do you love about living in England?
The history! I love how steeped in history England is, and that everyone works so hard to preserve it with listed buildings and museums everywhere.
5. What are common questions you are asked by English people when you say you are from the US?
This is how a normal first conversation goes;
Stranger – “You don’t sound like you’re from here, where are you from?”
Me – “Oh I’m not, I’m originally from New York, but not the city”
Stranger – “That’s so cool! So you’re like next to the empire state building?”
Me – “Nope, that’s the city, I’m from the countryside”
Stranger – “Oh, ok (looks less impressed). Why on earth would you move from there to Doncaster?”
And then I have to explain I did it for loooove.
6. What are the main culture shocks you’ve had moving to England? Is there anything USA has that you wish England had?
I wouldn’t say I had any major culture shocks, but finding a job was a big obstacle to overcome as when I first moved here people were unsure about if I would stay sort of thing. I had some trouble with “pants” (I’d say pants for trousers, not underpants) when I first moved here which got me into some tricky situations. The main thing I wish that I would have free access to is Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I stock up when I go back and bring like 8 bottles back with me. I eat it on everything.
7. Have you considered moving back to the US?
I had originally said I’d give England 10 years, but the longer I’m here, the more I realize how much harder things in the US can be. For starters there’s holidays, you get between 22-28 paid holidays in England, and you’re lucky if you get two weeks in America. I never had any, they were always unpaid. So here I can actually afford to go away places. On that topic, everywhere is so close! You can hop on a plane and be in a different country in an hour or two, and it’s so cheap, it’s a great way to travel and experience different cultures living in England. Also, people talk a lot of crap about the NHS, but health insurance is super expensive in America and often times doesn’t even cover much, so I’m loving being on board the NHS train.
8. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice prior to moving to England, what would that be?
Nothing, I think I was as impulsive as I could have been, and I probably would have told myself to save more money because it would take longer to find a job than I’d thought, but I still probably wouldn’t have haha.
9. What’s not to miss in New York and USA when visiting?
New York city is popular for a reason, it’s got some amazing things to see and do, but go see a Broadway play, I’ve been to loads and they are completely worth it.
Go to upstate New York!! I’m from a region called the Fingerlakes, and it’s gorgeous. It’s filled with wineries, lakes, waterfalls and tons of hiking trails. There’s a lot more to New York than the city.
If you can make it to the Oregon coast, go. Hire a car and drive down the coast. You can go on white water jet boat tours and drive a bit further just into California to see the redwoods. Hell, do the whole west coast if you have time, Seattle is amazing too.
Thank you Dannielle for giving us a glimpse of your reasons for moving to the England and how well you have settled in. I completely agree it’s great that England is great at preserving their history: definitely something to be proud of.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Dannielle a little bit better. I’ll be back with a new fresh interview next month.