Who are you?
My name is Christine Frey, I am from Germany and now living and working in the UK.I am the co-founder of Live Your Perfect Day. I love networking with people all around the world, learning languages, travelling and spending quality time with my family and friends.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I grew up in a small village in Germany and spread my wings in 2010 to move to the UK. When I booked my first one-way ticket I told my parents that I’d be gone for just 9 months to complete my Bachelor’s degree in International Business Communication. After 8 years I am still here and currently living in historical Chester with my life and business partner Anthony and his two boys.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The biggest challenge I faced in the beginning of my expat life was living with the guilt of moving away from my home country. I had this urge to go and explore a different part of the world, but at the same time felt sad every time I couldn’t be with my parents, sister or friends in those times they really needed me.
How did you find somewhere to live?
In my first year I was living in student accommodation as this was just the easiest option to go for. I soon realised however, that this was also the most expensive option and quickly found myself a shared accommodation with friends I made at university. Two great websites to find accommodation in the UK are rightmove.com or spareroom.co.uk.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Not as many as in the capital or bigger cities like Manchester or Liverpool, but there are definitely other expats around. I found that the easiest way to meet other expats is through expat forums, like Expat Focus or local meet-up groups. Check out meetup.com.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Interestingly, the longer I have spent in the UK, the more locals have been part of my life. With my university courses being internationally focused, I hadn’t been around too many locals during my first two years. I had the most contact with locals during my job in a British supermarket chain and in musical & speaking clubs I am part of.
What do you like about life where you are?
Chester is located right on the border of Wales and less than an hour’s drive away from the coast and Snowdonia National Park. Just 30 minutes’ drive away from Liverpool and Manchester, there is a good mix of peaceful country life and traditional city feel. We have an amazing theatre here, called Storyhouse which hosts many cultural events, like the International Film Festival or International Week of Language, and is a hotspot for anyone interested in meeting people from the area.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
In the past I used to hate that I couldn’t always be with my family and friends back home for birthdays, hen do’s, graduations etc. But now that I’m working from home with just a laptop and an internet connection, I can travel back to Germany a lot more often.
Oh, and of course there’s the English weather which is not the finest.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Hm, it is a stereotype that Germans don’t get the British humour. And that was me in the beginning of my adventure. Joking about life and death as well as taking the mickey out of others, is not what I was used to back home.
Having worked hard collecting various certificates throughout my educational career, in all of my job interviews here, I noticed they are not in the slightest interested in my papers. I can’t compare it like-for-like, as in Germany I never had an interview for a full-time role, however, generally in German culture, certificates are deemed to be more important when applying for jobs.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
“Afternoon Tea with Earl Grey Tea please!” – I adore the traditional afternoon tea that can be enjoyed with friends and family in one of the majestic stately homes which are dotted all over the UK. Served with carefully selected sandwiches, freshly-baked scones and a selection of small sweet treats, this famous British tradition is simply divine.
The bread on the other hand… well, nothing will ever beat the German bread. At least I haven’t found a comparable version yet anywhere in the world.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Before moving, I would suggest anyone to find TV programs or YouTube videos to watch and get used to the accents of the region you are looking to settle in. This will definitely make your journey easier in the beginning.
Further to this, the British people LOVE to say SORRY! Get used to saying sorry in every situation, in which you or others have done something wrong. They even apologise when YOU bump into THEM in the street, or when you accidentally spill your coffee all over their office desk. Whenever I spend time with my parents at home, my mum gets visibly annoyed by me being so apologetic.
What are your plans for the future?
Now, after 8 years in the UK, I feel that I have fully arrived and settled. My plan for the future is to get involved with the local community more and ideally create a local meet-up group for expats new in the area.
With my online business, my mission is to offer more people worldwide the experience of living in a different country. With the technology of the 21st century, we have the opportunity to be geographically free as long as we have a laptop and an internet connection.
You can find out more about Christine and her business on her website, Live Your Perfect Day.
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