What did I learn while living abroad?

It is always hard to say goodbye!

This week marks my 15th anniversary of my returning home from a 4 year assignment in London.  I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan so this was the perfect way for me to experience a truly international lifestyle.   The decision of “Should I stay or should I go abroad?” is not one to be taken lightly which is featured in my guest blog post for Global Threads.   

However as I reminisce about all the ways my life has changed since my international assignment and the bottom line is I don’t regret living abroad for 1 minute.  Okay let’s be honest…I miss it!



Here are the top 15 lessons I learned that impact my daily life:  


  1. Tea is always served with milk.  
  2. BBC News is my daily source for news as it provides an independent truly international news report.
  3. Always carry an umbrella!  Also leave an extra umbrella in the car.  
  4. A solid understanding of history is critical to begin cultural interaction in any country.
  5. A Tuesday night at a local pub talking with friends is better than any TV program. 
  6. Always keep an open mind to reframe my perspective.  The British do not drive on the “wrong” side of the road –  they drive on the “other” side of the road.
  7. Marks & Spencers has the best knickers in the world!
  8. Public interactions go much smoother when everyone gets into an orderly queue (sorry…line). 
  9. Black clothing is always in style regardless of the garment item or season.
  10. Appreciate the importance of work life balance and the concept of “work only to live”
  11. Understand how “It’s a small world after all” when you can bump into old friends in India.
  12. Realize that home is truly where the heart is; however in time of an emergency when you need to travel it seems so very far away.
  13. Ability to portray a modest, calm and composed personality  
  14. You can live your life without a car!  Public transportation outside of the US can be utilized as your primary mode of transportation.
  15. Plan your weekly shopping time in advance.  Even today major stores in the UK are only open 11AM – 5pM on Sundays including grocery stores.  
Would you move abroad again?



St Albans: My British home townAbsolutely! 
Due to the opportunity I had to establish a life abroad I was able to experience many great adventures.   So many of these experiences would never be possible as a visitor or traveler passing through for a week.  Now let me be clear, every day was not easy.  There were certainly days when I thought what the $%@% am I doing here!  


As I reflect on this portion of my life it is impossible for me to believe that it has already been 15 years since I lived abroad.  It seems like only yesterday I was down at my favorite local pub having a pint with friends planning our next trip somewhere in Europe.  The most valued keepsake from my experience is the people I met!  I have been fortunate that many of my dearest friends in my life today were established from my experience living abroad.  Plus they all like to travel! 


Seek your adventure (living abroad?)