When I casually said to my husband “I want to live somewhere hot” one freezing winters day back in the UK, I never imagined myself living as an Expat in North Carolina……Never mind that we thought we were heading for Dallas until 2 months prior to leaving!  We are actually in Cornelius, North Carolina, which is beautiful and much sunnier than home.

Wise tales

Having traveled lots in my 30s, to the extent that I was away more than home, the thought of relocating a family of 4 to the USA didn’t seem too large a step to take.  However, unlike most expats, my husband is just on secondment from his UK office and relocating for us doesn’t include the contents of our house…We came with only 9 suitcases of our UK life, but guess what?  We are not really missing any of our possessions, which leads me to believe my children need far less toys etc. than they think (although my daughters’ soft toy collection is growing faster than I can keep up with!).

Living in the USA however, brings whole new challenges.

In our first few weeks there were many challenges, our very first being driving an automatic car and learning not to keep reaching for non-existent gears. Then there were the moments of reaching for non-existant gears and remembering which side of the car to get into.

At the same time as speaking the same language, it is also a whole different language. I’ve found myself trying to describe the oddest things to shop assistants who have no clue what I want!  The school shopping list for provisions was a challenge, I literally followed other mums around to see what they were buying!  And blue tac, which I needed for home… how would you describe that without using a brand name?  Here it is simply called removable mounting putty, obvious really, but not when you know it as Blue Tac! Never mind asking where the toilet was in a store, the poor shop assistant had no clue what I wanted.  I politely ask for the nearest restroom these days.

My first supermarket shop took forever too, I literally stopped in each isle and just stared at all the new brands, none of which meant anything to me.  As recently as yesterday I wanted a joint of beef to roast, I had to tell the butcher how I planned to cook it in order for him to recommend a piece of beef to me.

My children have had to adjust to some new challenges too. Measurements are a cause of confusion, my children are now better than me at using inches, feet and yards and I have re adjusted to ordering food by the oz and lb too.

I asked Justin, my husband what he found most difficult to adapt to and he made some good observations..…. Restroom doors have huge gaps underneath and at the sides, anyone can, if they choose, snoop on your more private moments! But more seriously, he is somewhat confused that here in NC he can’t take our children into a liquor store to buy spirits, however, he can take them to Walmart and buy a gun!!! Now where is the sense in that?

Lake Norman

Jo Wise is a British mum of two and a professional photographer www.jowise.com