I’m excited about sharing new Expat Stories with you this month while I’m on the road instead of the usual Pipeline. Today’s story is from Shauna who lives even further north in Scotland than I do.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Shauna Reid and I live in Inverness, Scotland.
I grew up in Australia and in 2003, aged 24, I came to Edinburgh with my sister on a Working Holiday visa.
The Working Holiday visa is a great perk of living in a Commonwealth country – you get to live and work in Britain for up to two years. I never thought it would turn into a forever thing. I thought maybe after those two years we’d apply for the Canadian or Irish working holiday visa next; do a bit more travelling before heading back to Oz.
But two things happened. First I visited Glen Coe, just a week after I arrived in Scotland. One look at those majestic mountains and moody grey skies, I felt this spooky, overwhelming sense of calm; like I was in exactly the right place.
Then two months later, I met a Scottish man at a pub quiz; a friend of a friend. It’s so cheesy but after ten minutes a thought casually popped into my head, “This is the guy that I’m going to marry.” I hadn’t been drinking, honest!
Gareth and I eloped in Vegas in 2005 and I moved from Edinburgh to Gareth’s place in Fife. We then made the big move north to Inverness in October 2013 when Gareth took a new job as a brewer at a local brewery. Moving to the Highlands has felt like 2003 all over again. I kinda love that awesome/scary feeling of turning your life upside down. It’s a chance to reboot and reinvent yourself a bit.
What has surprised you about living abroad?
How easy it is to forget that you’re “not from ’round here”. People are always asking me where I’m from and I say, “here?” and they frown and say, “No, where are you REALLY from?”. I always forget that I have this weird mish-mosh accent and that I once lived a gazillion miles away.
Once you’re over the initial hurdle of finding shelter and work and being able to pronounce the weird place names, it’s easy to slip into a routine and to lose that sense of adventure. So I make a conscious effort to keep a list of new places to explore, and to remember what is different from Oz and soak up all the details.
What new tradition or habit do you have from your present home?
I didn’t drink tea before I came to Scotland! Gareth made me a cup on our first date and I got hooked – strong builders tea with a good slosh of milk. How did I ever cope without tea? It’s so calming when you’re frazzled, and the perfect way to procrastinate!
If a friend came to visit you in your current city for one day, what would you take them to see?
I’d start with a walk along the River Ness, leading up to the Ness Islands; a little sanctuary of leafy calm right in the middle of town. Then I’d take them to Velocity, the best cafe in town for coffee and lemon mascarpone cake. Then we’d head out along the coast to Rosemarkie for a bit of dolphin spotting. Sometimes you luck out with a huge pod of them right near the shore, and seeing them leaping around is a stunning sight. We’d finish the day at the Dores Inn at the foot of Loch Ness, for a great pub meal and taking in the twilight views of the loch and the Great Glen.
What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to live abroad one day?
Save as much money as humanly possible! You always need more than you think. Accept that it will be an emotional roller coaster – just hold on and try to keep a sense of humour. Keep a diary or a blog and capture all those highs and lows in their rawest form. I love looking back at both my blog and paper diary from 11 years ago and laughing/cringing at all the tiny details that I would have otherwise forgotten.
Thank you so much for sharing your expat story with us Shauna! I also have started drinking LOTS of tea since moving to Scotland!
You can connect with Shauna on her blog or on her website where she runs online running courses. She’s also on Twitter and Instagram. And feel free to leave her any questions in the comment section as well.