Dispatches from England: Answering a Few Reader Questions and Comments About This Column

Carylon Beach 2

My most recent post about things to memorize when you move to the UK had a few comments and questions on the Anglotopia Facebook page that inspired me to work on a post where I simply answer some of the questions or comments you’ve left on my posts, or emailed me with, or posted on Facebook. Hopefully it’ll give you a little more insight into our experience here (and how I go about writing about it). I hope you’ll continue to comment on my posts. I enjoy the dialogue immensely and it helps me to know what types of topics you’re interested in hearing about.

How did you get so lucky?

(Or… what are you doing in the UK?) As several of you have pointed out, you can’t just hop on a plane bound for the UK and declare yourself a resident. Immigrating to this country from the U.S. is nearly impossible without either lots of money (and time to wait) or a company to sponsor you. The latter is our situation. My husband works for an American company that has several facilities throughout the UK. They coordinated our visas which allow us to live here for a few years. Personally, I’m on a spousal visa, meaning I’m not allowed to work while here. And I apologize to those who email me with visa and immigration questions. My husband’s company handled most of the process, and I’m not very familiar with the ins and outs of it.

If you want to know more about our story, you can read my introductory Anglotopia post here. Or follow my personal blog, Arrows Sent Forth.

UK spellings and terminology

I always chuckle when someone posts or comments to point out the British spelling or word for something. Like cell phones are called mobile phones. License is licence. The list goes on. I’m not sure if people write this to let me know of the difference, to inform others, or to correct me. For the record, 99% of the time I’m well aware of these differences. I live here, after all. But I’m an American writer, and writing for a mostly American audience. I’ll continue to primarily use American terminology and spellings. I’m sure if I were moving to the UK permanently and hoping to continue with a writing career, I’d make the switch. But that’s not the case. (Not to mention my American computer would point out all my incorrect spellings if I used the British spellings!)

Which do we like better, the U.S. or the UK?

I hope it’s clear from my writing that we love it here. I was not an “anglophile” before moving here. I never had the fascination with Great Britain that Jonathan does. But now? I adore it. I know we’ll miss it greatly when we leave. But I also now have a new appreciation for all the things that are great about America, too. Our families and friends are there, and that will always be home to us. I could never compare the two countries and pick a favorite. They’re both proud nations with so much to offer both travelers and residents. One of the hardest parts about taking on an expat assignment like this is that you’ll always “miss” a place for the rest of your life. When I’m here, I sometimes miss the U.S. And when we return, I know I’ll often miss England.

You’re really not an expert on the UK, having only lived there a year

To this commenter, I say, absolutely correct! I would never claim to be an expert on, well, anything! But the purpose of the Dispatches from England column is to highlight my personal observations, things I notice about living here that I think Americans would find interesting (or to share an American perspective on life here for British readers). I would never claim to know everything. And I appreciate it when readers point out an error, or a regional difference, or provide me answers to dilemmas I face. For example, now I know exactly where to go to get a flu shot next fall! I hope you’ll continue to enlighten me.

How did the moving process work?

I’ve gotten a few of questions about this, so look for more information on that next week!

Is there anything you wish I would write about? Let me know. And like I said, keep the questions and comments coming. Just leave my spelling alone! :)

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatar says

    You are more gracious than me! If you’ve been getting negative comments about “not being an expert” or using American spellings, you shouldn’t feel the need to explain yourself, it’s just internet trolls being their trolly selves!

    • avatarMinerva says

      That’s about the size of it…you just have to rise above it.

      I think where the spelling/terminology thing is concerned…I suspect that English/British people (like myself) read these posts because they are interesting & an insight as to how ‘the jolly foreigner’ receives us in our natural habitat…………..& offer ‘advice’ as simply that, knowing many US folks who haven’t visited us before will be reading it too.

      Spelling pedants (like I am sometimes!) are mostly just trying to be helpful to other readers.

  2. avatarMaureen says

    I would love to know how you are getting along with your new neighbors (neighbours). When I am there, which is about once a year or so, I find people friendly and just fine. I will sit on a park bench in St. James Park or Hyde and strike up a conversation. I do not find the Brits standoffish,. They just don’t plunge in and ask people personal questions the minute they meet someone which in the US is not considered rude. I rather like that.

  3. avatarDr. Joyce Pigge says

    Having taught for a semester at Harlaxton College (outside Grantham), and, having visited England on two other occasions, I heartily support your statements regarding your pure joy of living there, but, never losing your sense of home. I hope you have visited Burghley House and will watch for opportunities to tour Harlaxton Manor (Harlaxton)—-a truly magnificent manor house. Harlaxton is a quick trip north by train! :-)

  4. avatarhms_seahorse says

    “Personally, I’m on a spousal visa, meaning I’m not allowed to work while here.”

    That’s entirely not true. First, you’re on a Tier 2 ICT dependent visa, and you can freely work (but not as a doctor in training). Second, those on spousal visas ARE allowed to work (and we do … all … the … bloody … time). You can’t work on a fiance/proposed civil partner visa, but that’s certainly not your situation. In all cases, though, there is no recourse to ‘public funds’ — which is not the same as work or even the NHS.

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