the expat diaries | question and answer session

Welcome to another installment of The Expat Diaries. Can you believe it’s already August? This year is flying by and we’re already on the 5th month of this little project. Both Chelsea and I enjoy reading all of your travel and expat adventures, and we couldn’t have kept this blog hop going without the support of our favorite bloggers. Thank you, thank you! Now… add your posts below and be sure to visit a couple of blogs! The next link-up will take place on September 5th.


I thought it would be fun to have Brandon ask me questions about travel and being an expat. Then I figured I should do the same for him. I hope you all enjoy our expat question and answer session!

Postcards from Rachel

Questions for Her

What do you remember about our first day in Scotland?
Well, I know we were completely jet-lagged and out of it, and we had a difficult time getting our vehicle into the hotel parking garage (teeny-tiny). Oh, yes. And then we slept the entire day. You know how you’re supposed to try and stay awake so your body adjusts? That didn’t happen. We crashed hard and then woke up at 2 am starving. Thank goodness for McDonald’s. I also learned that I can’t handle cider. At least we have funny stories to tell.

What was your biggest challenge?
Being alone all of the time was a difficult adjustment, but luckily I had my main man Malcolm to entertain me. Also, Aberdeen had a wonderful Expat community that made things easier. Other than that, I just felt awkward. I was hyperaware of my American accent because the Scots would stare at me once I started speaking at the coffee shop or store, I constantly looked the wrong way when crossing the street (I think you saved me from being hit by a few buses), I’d hold up lines with my American swipe credit card since they use credit card chip readers, I couldn’t find simple ingredients in the grocery store… I was awkward as shit.

What do you miss about living abroad?
Cheap flights! I felt like we were constantly planning our next adventure. European discount airlines became our best friend. I also miss the beauty of Scotland. Hiking up mountains, taking Malcolm for walks on the beach, visiting castles every weekend, chasing sheep; everything about Scotland is breathtaking. It’s the prettiest place I’ve ever lived.

How has travel changed you?
Travel has humbled me and opened my eyes to the rest of the world. It has taught me about what’s truly important in life. It’s made me even more grateful for the things I have. It’s strengthened our marriage and I really believe it has made me a better person. Before we moved abroad, my life revolved around work and I honestly couldn’t see past my career. Politics ruled my world and I was a little too passionate about working on the Hill. Now I just want people to love and respect each other. That may sound stupid, but it’s true. No, no… I haven’t transformed into a hippie, but like I said, travel has changed me. I’m more passionate about life!

Questions for Him

What surprised you the most about living in Scotland? 
How on a public holiday everything would be closed — not just banks like in the states. Even a couple of days after New Years everything was still closed which made getting the basic necessities difficult. Thankfully ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart) was open and had pretty much anything we could want.

If you could live abroad again, what would you do differently?
Learn a different language, especially if we were living in a non-English speaking country. Luckily enough of the population in Europe speaks some English which makes communication relatively easy, especially in the major cities. However, once you get outside of the touristy areas, English becomes harder to come by. Speaking another language would make exploring small towns and the countryside much easier.

What was your favorite travel experience?
Morocco was definitely my favorite trip. For one, we had been stuck in the UK for over 2 months waiting on our visa renewal and assumed we would have to cancel the trip. Needless to say, we got our passports back just in time. Morocco was the first trip that exposed us to a completely different culture. Everything from where we stayed (a riad), to our private tour of the Atlas Mountains was amazing. Never would I have imagined eating in a Berber family’s house in the Atlas Mountains.

How has travel changed you?
Prior to living in Scotland I enjoyed traveling but never had the “bug.” Now it’s all I want to do. Experiencing new cultures and places is addicting.


Filed Under: Expat, Travel13 Comments
  • Erica

    Thanks for this! (especially the link to your post about discount europeean airlines!!)
    It’s great seeing others’ perspectives on living abroad :)

  • Treasure Tromp

    what a great idea, Rachel. I especially love how you feel travel has helped you to be grateful for what you have and see the importance of things beyond your career. :)

  • Amanda

    Ryanair and easyjet are both wonderful and awful all at the same time! Cider is my frenemy. xx

  • Jennifer F

    Thanks for doing this…I love reading about other expat experiences! Nice to find new people too!

  • Betsy Transatlantically

    God, I always HATED using my American card in the UK – it was one of the things that made me feel most “other” and YARGH!

    thank you for hosting – I joined up this time :)

  • lost in travels

    i can’t agree with you more about learning a different language! why oh why didn’t i pay attention in high school japanese! knowing ANY other language would be so helpful! (even though i admit, i count my lucky stars that most countries at least know a LITTLE english!) loved this post friend!

  • Rachel

    Wow this was so fun to read about your experiences! It has made me even more excited for my trip to Europe this fall! Awkward as shit ha ha that’s going to be me! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Amanda @ Adventure Year

    Wonderful interview questions and answers! Scotland would be such a beautiful place to live, but I agree that I would want to try a bit of new language learning. Maybe I would just do both. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Kelly Sparrow

    Thanks for the link up! Great blogs so far!!

  • A and B

    such a great post!! Super informative!!

  • Lisette H

    I absolutely loved this post! Every time you talk about living abroad…my heart pulls me to living overseas!

  • Celia Houck

    Ooooh I could see myself taking a lazy Sunday and going through these link ups. What fun!

  • Irene

    Lovely photo! You look so cute as a couple!
    I can relate to many of those things. I’ve wandered ls in a supermarket looking for food which was rightin front of me at the first place, struggled with the Dutch language and it’s hundred different accents and dialects and eventually realizing that traveling has made me more humble, tolerant and patient and hungry for more and more travel. Th k goodness for European low cost air carriers :)