I lived in the UK for 1.5 years. I moved over when the 2012 Summer Olympics were taking place and although I never made it to the games themselves I still was able to take part in the fun! Being a cardholder at Chase allowed me to enter the Chase Visa VIP Lounge at the Olympics where we were able to watch the games, enjoy the perks of the lounge (free food and drinks) and got to mingle with the Olympic athletes. One day on a stroll around London we even happened to be in the right place at the right time: Buckingham Palace for the start of the final marathon race. So I guess after all I did get to see some of the events!
Life in the UK I found to be much different than life in the US. The cities are crammed together but once you leave the city there are miles upon miles of open countryside, which I saw a lot of as we lived in the North of England. The streets are tiny, the cars are tiny, they drive on the opposite side of the road and the opposite side of the car! I learned how to drive a manual and how to ride a horse the proper English way (as horseback riding is very big in England.) I drove a mini car, lived in attached housing, rode my first train, drank tea (all the time), ate beans on toast, fish & chips, and drank cider. I adopted all the traditional English ways I guess you could say! 🙂
I lived in Catterick Garrison, a small village around a military garrison in North Yorkshire in the North of England. I worked as a Catering Assistant at North Yorkshire Police Headquarters. My favorite thing about living in Catterick was that I lived 5 minutes away from what was said to be the oldest still standing stone castle in all of England: Richmond Castle. I would go on runs to the castle and gaze upon it, sitting and reflecting on what crazy past this area must have had. Envisioning how it was 1000 years ago. Sometimes it would give me the chills just thinking how much history was right there beneath my feet! I would also go for hikes around the castle grounds, Richmond, and the River Swale. My favorite British Ale was made at a microbrewery at the base of the castle, Richmond Station Ale. Another one of my favorite things to do was to go to Wensleydale Creamery and taste all of their amazing cheeses, we would always buy a bottle of their special wine and some of our favorite cheeses and go home and have a cheese feast! I bought my honey local from Langton Farms and even grew my own garden. Although I am definitely much more of a city girl, I really appreciated the openness and beauty of living up North in the countryside.
The one bad thing about living in the UK: wages are very low and gas prices and food prices are VERY HIGH! In the US we think gas is expensive at around $4/gallon… In the UK it is more than double that, sometimes even triple! I drove a 4 cylinder 1.3L Ford KA and it would cost around $90 to fill up my 10 gallon tank, OUCH! England is a small country, it would take less than 10 hours to drive from the Northern-most point to the Southern-most point but at that price for gas, trips like that aren’t very reasonable. The train system in the UK is very good however and you can get pretty much anywhere on the trains! In Catterick it is a bit more difficult to get around and to the trains but near London it is great!
Living in the UK was definitely an experience for me and it was amazing to experience another culture in that way! I was able to go to Scotland, Stonehenge, learned how to surf in the North Sea, went to Cornwall, Merlin’s Cave, and Tintagle Castle (said to be the birthplace of King Arthur), London, and so many other amazing places, I literally soaked up all the history I could while living there! It is definitely much different than living in the US and I came back to the US with a newfound appreciation for living here but I loved my journey there nonetheless!