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Lena, Cambridge

Who are you?

My name is Lena and I moved from Germany to the UK in 2015 together with my husband who is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge.I’m currently working as Content Marketing Specialist in the education industry and I’m blogging about expat life in England on my website.

What challenges did you face during the move?

– Rent prices: they are horrendous in Cambridge, although probably not as bad as in London (yet).
– Brexit: About one year after I had moved to the UK, Brexit happened and it made me feel quite anxious about my future here as a European expat.
– Language: I had to brush up on my English language skills before I was able to get a job in content marketing and write my blog posts in English.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes, there are lots of expats in Cambridge from all over the world, especially students.

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What do you like about life where you are?

Cambridge is a very picturesque city with lots of historical buildings, so I often head into town to take photos of pretty colleges. I cruise around with my bike which is particularly enjoyable during spring, the best season in Cambridge, in my view! I also like that British people are always up for a chat and in general they are quite witty and funny, I think.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

It’s mainly the little things that annoy me sometimes, for example separate taps, bad house insulation or bumpy roads (a problem for cyclists!). Also, Cambridge can be crowded with tourists, especially during summer and going into town can be quite hectic and stressful.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

British people are the masters of small talk and I truly admire that. Sometimes I’m not sure though if they actually mean what they’re saying and I also had to get used to making some small talk before I get to the point. Germans are much more straight forward and rather blunt in expressing their opinion but I think you have to be a bit gentler with British people in that sense.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I love the variety of food here. There are so many different restaurants – Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian, etc. I also like cream tea or a Sunday roast in the pub. The baking culture is very different from the one in Germany though, where you have lots of bakeries and a huge variety of cakes. What you get here in coffee shops are mainly just brownies, scones or Victoria sponge.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

If you struggle with the language don’t be shy and talk as much English as possible. It can be easy to just hang out with people from your own country but you will miss out on the full cultural experience. I’d also recommend to have some money in the bank to cover the first few months when you’re looking for a job. Speaking of the job hunt: there are so many recruitment agencies that can help you finding a job for free!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m planning to stay here for a little while longer, at least until my husband is finished with his PhD, but will eventually move back to Germany.

You can keep up to date with Lena's adventures on her blog, Home Is Here.

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