Expat Update: Jan – Apr 2018

Back by popular demand (well, my Mum asking me when I’m going to be doing another one because she misses reading them…) here’s an Expat Update!  This update covers everything I’ve been up to so far this year.  My blog doesn’t run chronologically, when I’m not travelling I just have to pull my inspiration from whatever I feel like writing about and it’s not really a true life account of what’s going on RIGHT NOW!

Time I’ve been living in the USA = 1 year 9 months

Where I’ve been

USA

Iowa – Dubuque, Farley, Epworth, Dyersville, Peosta

Illinois – Galena, Rockford, Troy

Minnesota – Roseville, St Paul, Minneapolis, Bloomington

Missouri – St Louis

UK

England – Braintree, Colchester, Flatford

Travel Highlights

Going right back to the start of the year, I learnt how to ski at Sundown Mountain in Dubuque, IA!  I once had a snowboarding crash course (literally) and I was hopeless, so I’m happy to say that I managed to pick up skiing a little easier! I never got off the bunny hill but hey, baby steps!  Straight from skiing, we went into Dubuque and I met up with one of my fellow Midwest Travel blogging buddies, Janet from Go Learn Things!  We first met at the Women in Travel Summit last year, and met up for dinner and drinks in the Millwork District as she was visiting the area with her husband!

I made my own sock monkey at the Midway Village Museum in Rockford, IL!  I’m obsessed with monkeys and when I first discovered that there was a sock monkey festival, I knew I had to go to it!  It was a bit fiddly to make and it took 2 hours but it was really interesting to see the process of how a manky ole work sock actually turns into a stuffed monkey that in reality, looks nothing like a sock!

Make A Sock Monkey Workshop

I went home! YAYYYYYY.  It was the best feeling ever being back and I ate my body weight in all the food I’ve missed!  I wish it had been for longer, the 4 nights went SO quick but we squished a lot in!  I flew my drone around, visited Flatford Mill, did an escape room in Colchester and played tourist in my hometown!

St Michaels Church Braintree Essex

Despite the snow (see below), my blogger trip to Roseville, Minnesota was fun!  I visited the Mall of America for the first time, played the COOLEST mini golf course in the world (stay tuned for the post!) and found a Brewstillery that made London themed beer!

The City Museum in St Louis, Missouri is CRAZY.  I came out a little battered and bruised but I had so much fun!  Again stay tuned for a post all about it!

Travel Lows

The sodding snow.  I’m sure my UK readers can relate to it this year too!!  I was planning on going to the Travel and Adventure Show in Chicago, along with a bunch of my Midwest Travel Blogging friends and then we typically got hit with the worst snow all weekend.  At the end of the day I had to consider my safety and 3 hours ‘white knuckling’ isn’t exactly my idea of fun.  I was gutted to miss out though, I had my bag packed ready to go, I even woke up at 4am to check the road conditions, but alas, no.

It then snowed on my way back from Chicago airport after my visit home….

Hot Chocolate Run Minneapolis Snow

…and then a blizzard (the worst April snow in 10 years) cut short my trip to Roseville, Minnesota!  I even did a 5K run in the snow which was fun but awful at the same time!!

I’m ready to whip out the shorts and flip flops now!

Apps I’m Loving

DUOLINGO!!! This app is amazing!!! It’s a language learning app that is totally free (it gets its revenue through ads) and you can choose from a whole range of languages.  I’m learning Spanish.  I knew some basics when I was at college and could get by in the middle of nowhere Spanish speaking Costa Rica, but it’s something I’d like to learn more of as it’s one of my goals this year!

I’m good with the individual words but male and female still confuses me!  The lessons are broken down into tiny chunks, they say even 10 minutes of practising every day will help you to learn!  There are a whole range of ‘activities’ from connecting the Spanish and English words together, translating English to Spanish, Spanish to English, with pictures, without pictures and recording the Spanish sentences with the mic.

Products I’m Loving

I’ve always loved Pura Vida Bracelets and now I’m a ‘rep’!  I can offer my readers 20% off all products and in return I do make a small commission through any sales I make!  I’ve been wearing mine for 4 years (…if not longer?), I never take them off and they are still going strong!  Just enter the code at the check out 🙂 puravidabracelets.com

Pura Vida Coupon Code

I’ve had a couple of Influenster boxes where I get products for free to review…they must realise my skin hates the cold weather because they’ve all been moisturiser based products!  I tried Elemis Superfood face wash and day cream…both done the job well!  And my most recent box is from La Roche-Posay, again lots of various moisturisers but I’m still in the middle of trying those products!

Blog Collaborations I’ve Been A Part Of

Journalist On The Run – Things To Do In Iceland

Gypsy With a Day Job – Delivering Love Letters Around The World

A Southern Gypsy – Game of Thrones Filming Locations Around The World

Everyday Wanderer – 6 Midwestern Stereotypes That People in ‘Flyover States” Are Sick of Hearing

Everyday Wanderer – 10 Destinations to Keep the Olympic Spirit Alive After the Olympic Flame is Extinguished

The Fickle Feet – Girls All Over The World Who Travel Solo While Married

Kat Pegi Mana – The Best Places To Stay In Lisbon

The Local Tourist – Travel Planning Secret Weapon: The Visitors Bureau

Minivan Adventures – U.S Roadside Attractions

Books I’ve Enjoyed

So far in the first 4 months of the year, I’ve read 17 books!

I’ve enjoyed: ‘Don’t Go There’ by Adam Fletcher…all about travels to places where people don’t really travel too.  Was really interesting.  ‘Travels With Rachel: In Search of South America’ by George Mahood…I love his writing, typical British sense of humour and sarcasm!  ‘Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward For Ourselves, One Rainy Day At A Time’ by Rob Temple…this is the 3rd Very British Problems book and they never fail to make me laugh!  It comes from the Twitter account ‘Very British Problems’ so it’s a very easy, fast read as they are all short ‘tweets’.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix

I binged watched each of these in a day!

Scam City – I found this so interesting, it looked at different tourist scams around the world, how and why they happen and ways you can avoid them.  The presenter purposely got himself scammed and then ‘chased down’ the scammer in order to find out more about the process.  It covered things like tour ticket touts, pickpockets, fake currency etc.

Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2) – I’ve read the book series, saw the original film and now they have released a TV series…it seems to have taken forever to come back.  I binge watched Season 2 and now I have to wait again for Season 3!

Doctor Foster (Season 2) – This is a British series that I started watching back home and again having a Season 2 just meant that I had to watch it to find out what happened!  Lots of twists and turns with an unexpected ending!

What’s Coming Up Between May – August

A lot.

I’m not even joking.  In May I’m heading to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Building Community travel blogging conference.  I’M STAYING IN A YURT!

Literally 2 days later my visa application to extend my Green Card will be in the post.

First 2 weeks of June I’ll be in Australia, meeting up with my Sis (who’s flying the opposite way around the world).  We’ll be visiting: Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Port Macquarie, Palm Beach and then back to Sydney.  Our trip coincides with Vivid Sydney as well which I’m excited to see!  On the way back I have a short stopover in Tokyo, Japan!

Sydney Harbour

A week and a half later, I’m jetting off again but this time to Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean!  I cashed in my air miles after 4 years of squirrelling them up so will be flying there ‘for free’!  I’m also not staying in an all inclusive resort so I’ll be seeing if it’s possible to visit this ‘expensive’ destination on a budget!

I get back and a couple of weeks later (July) my Mum and Dad are coming to visit, yay! We’re heading to Indiana and Michigan for a few days before doing some more Iowa exploring!

Who knows what else will get added in that line up!  I’ll be on school break from June so I have lots of time to catch up on travels.  When I’m not travelling, I’ll be writing and updating on the blog and ALSO writing my 2ND BOOK!

You can follow my adventures on:

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER

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Expat Update. Life as a Brit in the USA Jan to April 2018

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