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Derek Knight, St Louis (Missouri)

Who are you?

My name’s Derek Knight, I was raised on the south coast of England in Dover (famous for its White Cliffs). I worked in the finance industry for many years, and became a Change Implementation Project Manager working in the City of London and Edinburgh, Scotland, before taking early retirement and moving to the East Coast of England, where I started to write. I’ve now published 6 books, I’m a columnist for a number of publications (including Expat Focus!) and I’m working on a novel.Where, when and why did you move abroad?

Moving abroad totally took me by surprise! After being divorced in my mid 50’s I assumed that I’d stay single, and had set up a life for myself in a great East Coast of England town called King’s Lynn. Then I fell for a lady I’d known as a friend for many years, who had also become single. The only complication was she lived in the Mid-Western USA, so I moved here. We have just celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and that’s the amount of time I’ve been a US resident,

What challenges did you face during the move?

There were a few challenges, but nothing that we couldn’t work through. We found the Immigration process was complex, but being methodical with all the forms made it reasonably painless, and actually quicker than expected.

What took me by surprise was that I suddenly had NO credit score – my good score back in the UK didn’t count, as I had no credit record in the USA. I got new credit cards so that I could start to build up a new credit history, and that is sorting itself out.

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There is also the inevitable question on official forms which asks something like “did you graduate from High School?” The literal answer is no, simply because in the UK we don’t have the same system that the US does – we don’t have the same concept of High School or of graduating from it. But that literal answer is misleading because to an American it means that I failed High School, which is also untrue.

How did you find somewhere to live?

It was remarkably easy to buy a property here, I found it much less of a hassle than back in the UK.

Are there many other expats in your area?

There are a few, mostly from the great universities we have here, but there isn’t a “community” or anything of that order. Every so often I will hear an English accent in a store or on the streets, and I’m taken aback by how different it sounds!

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Well, I married one, so…
99.9% of people may ask once where I’m from, but otherwise I’m just another voice in the crowd, and there isn’t anything special about how I relate to locals than anyone else. It is interesting to share stories from our respective pasts and to learn about the similarities and differences of our experiences growing up in various parts of the world.

Every so often I will come across someone who is so amazed by my accent that they ask me to “say something in your accent” and don’t listen to my words, just the sounds I make. This is very frustrating, but, as I said, doesn’t happen very often.

What do you like about life where you are?

Just about everything!

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Hmmm – that’s a hard one. I don’t know that I dislike anything, but I do miss some things, such as living close to the sea as I did all my life in the UK. But I am getting used to “beaches” on lakes and rivers; not the same, but still nice.

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

Undoubtedly it is the gun culture. I am still taken aback when, for example, I see someone who would be called a ticket collector back in the UK with a side arm strapped to his belt.

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

It’s strange, because I’ve had the best food in the world here, and also the worst. Portions can be big, and you soon learn that it’s not only OK to take half of our food home with you, but it is also expected in a lot of places.

You can get almost any style of food in the big cities, there is even a “British tea room” not too far from me (although it’s not really like the ones in Yorkshire that I remember going to). Even in the out of the way places you can often find family restaurants selling good quality food at reasonable prices. Some things were totally new to me – biscuits and gravy for breakfast seemed to me a really strange thing at first, and it’s still not something I’d seek out.

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

Just do it!

What are your plans for the future?

My immediate plans are to finish the first draft of my new novel and then to edit it into shape! Apart from that we are open to whatever adventure comes along, including the adventure of staying right where we are!

If you would like to contact me, my email is dkstl007@gmail.com, and you can find out what I'm up to by checking out my blog derekknight007.wordpress.com. I'm always happy to connect with social media, and you can find me at; @DerekKnight1 and Facebook.

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