Friday, 19 August 2011

Meet the expat: Spirrel Monkey

The lovely Lorna runs her Etsy shop Spirrel Monkey where she sells beautiful cushion covers, purses and fabric buttons amongst other things.

Lorna was kind enough to take the time to tell us a little about herself.

I’m originally from a town called Stevenage which is 30 miles north of London, it was the first New Town built after WW2. Although Stevenage Old Town has been there since the 1100’s. My family have lived there their entire lives as have my husband and I. That was until last year at the age of 28.

We now live in Up State New York near Albany. We got here in the summer when it was unbearably hot. I didn’t mind too much as it was nice to get a feel of having a holiday after the stress of moving. We also happened to experience the worst winter in 25 years! I never knew it could get so cold and snow could get so deep. Yet everyone got on with life, roads were cleared, paths salted, schools open (apart from the days we actually had blizzards). It put the British reaction to snow to shame.

I have a degree in Applied Art with a specialism in Textiles something I have been into since I was a child and I enjoy creating especially when it comes to fabrics. My career though since leaving university has not been in the textiles area, as any job will do when you leave uni. But coming here has given me that chance to finally just go for it and do what I love, being creative!

 My husband works for an American company and had been working in their London office for 4 years, before he got transferred to their New York Office. I am the trailing spouse.

Being away from the family and friends you’ve grown up with your entire life. It was very hard saying goodbye, and I feel like I’m missing out on lots of things such as, weddings, births, funerals and ill grandparents.

I also miss certain foods. I know you can get similar things here but it’s just not the same.  Also there is a language barrier, even though we both speak English. Sometimes I find myself talking to people and I realise I lost them 5 minutes ago because they can’t quite understand some of the words I’m using.

Being different, most people are interested in you as soon as they hear your accent especially here in the US. Everyone asked us what we thought of the royal wedding and had we met the Queen.

We also have the opportunity to explore a vast and diverse country. We have already taken a road trip down to Florida and it’s amazing to see such a difference in climate and culture from just going north to south. This summer we have more travel plans to visit Niagara Falls, Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal.

I think everyone should live in another country at some point in their life. It’s such an experience and you learn so much about another culture, another country and about yourself. I know I will go home one day with a different perspective of the world that I wouldn't have had if I hadn’t lived abroad.

Find Spirrel Monkey online:

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 12 August 2011

Meet the expat: Tialys

The lovely Lynne runs three shops, Tialys, LaMance and Tour de Force on Etsy. Phew! Three shops, that sounds like a lot of work.

When this busy lady finds the time to chat with us she always manages to give me a chuckle with her wry sense of humour.

Lynn took time out of her busy schedule to tell us about herself.

Born in London, I’ve been living in France for the past 6 years with my husband and two daughters who are now 17 and 16. We sold our house in the U.K. because we wanted a change and we thought, whilst looking for a new property, we’d rent. Of course, we rented a big house, expanded into it for 4 years and then couldn’t afford to buy anything of a similar size as U.K. prices had rocketed. We already had a holiday home in France so it seemed the right time to make it permanent.

My husband works in IT in the finance and investment banking sector (yawn!!!) so he commutes to London on a Monday morning, returning Thursday nights and, with the girls at school, I needed to find something with which to occupy myself – apart from the dogs, cats and chickens we seem to have acquired.

I started my handmade shop, Tialys, because I always seemed to be making things and then not quite knowing what to do with them – friends and family already overstocked with my creative outpourings!

I absolutely love rummaging in junk shops and flea markets and, to save my house having to be registered as a shop itself, I decided to start offering some of my finds in La Manche which, I must admit, is now my favourite.

I recently started Tour de Force combining my vintage and handmade passions by making one of a kind cake display stands and jewellery holders but I haven’t really had a lot of time to promote that one yet so it’s a bit of a slow starter.

Biggest challenges living in my part of France

  • The language
  • The school system 
  • The shop opening hours (almost everything still shuts for 2 hours at lunchtime here)
  • French websites (abysmal)
  • No fish and chip shops
  • The language (I know I’ve already said that but it needed saying again!)

Best things about living in France:

  • The wine
  • The weather
  • The peace
  • The mountains
  • The lack of traffic jams (compared to the U.K.)
  • The lack of crowds everywhere (ditto)
  • The health system
  • The fact that my daughters are now bilingual
  • The wine (ooh, have I already said that??) 

Of course, there are more serious challenges about being an expat. My father is unwell at the moment so that’s difficult but, in reality, I can be at their home in England in around 5 hours so it’s not as bad as it could be if we had decided to move further afield.

I have a blog which some of the expats kindly come and read from time to time and I ramble on about everything and nothing on there when I get a minute.

All in all, I’m glad we made the move but I certainly don’t rule out moving again although next time it would definitely be to an English speaking country – any recommendations?

Thank you for taking the time to talk about yourself Lynn! It's nice to get to know you better. Hmmm... no moving recommendations from me at the moment. Give me more time to settle in South Africa before answering that.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)

Friday, 5 August 2011

Meet the expat: Karen's Loom

Karen is an absolute sweetheart and whenever I talk to her the word lovely just pops into my head.

She runs two beautiful Etsy shops, Karen's Loom where she sells beautiful hand-woven, knitted and felted creations. She opened FeltNatural to sell her gorgeous bridal wear.

Karen was kind enough to take some time to tell my a little about herself.

I am from a small village in East Yorkshire, UK but have been living in Buenos Aires for more than 20 years now. I learnt to knit when I was about 9 years old and although I have an advanced certificate in Education and have taught English for more than 20 years, I spend all my time working with natural fibers. I weave, knit, crochet, do macrame and felt.

Why did you move?
When I was about 18 years old I lived in London and around New Year I met my now husband, an Argentine, who was travelling around Europe with some friends. We kept in touch via letters for around a year and then lost contact for 5 years. We met up again in London and 6 months later I moved to Buenos Aires and have been here ever since.

Biggest challenge in being an expat?
My biggest challenge was the language, I was very shy at that time and totally afraid of speaking the language in case people laughed at my mistakes or pronunciation so I kept quiet for a couple of years (my husband often says he wishes I had never learnt the language) Although I have been here for many years and my Spanish is pretty fluent I still get into problems sometimes due to misunderstandings.

Biggest Joy in being an expat?
It is really hard to choose just one:I love the warmth of Buenos Aires as I found the cold and rain in England very depressing. I believe I am sensitive to the climate and the weather here in BA really suits me!

I also love the food here (I remember eating tinned ravioles).

The Etsy Expat Team is another of my joys, I think we all have a need to fit in and be understood, and this team of incredible ladies gave me that space. It is not easy living in a country that has a different culture and language to yours or living far away from your family and friends and each of us on this team understands that. We can use our experiences to help each other out and give support as we all have experienced many of the same things.

Etsy Shops

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself.

Are you a soon-to-be, been-there-done-that or currently an expat? If you sell on Etsy come and join our team.

Post by: Jacqueline Fouche (Tangentine)