Expat Voices: Amanda Regier on living in Oxford
Amanda and her husband came to Oxford from Vancouver three years ago and has developed a taste for English cream teas.
Name: Amanda Regier
City of residence: Oxford
Year of birth: 1980
Civil status: Married
Lived in the UK for: Three years
Reason for moving to the UK : Hubby's PhD studies
What was your first impression of the UK?
When we initially moved to the UK we were living in Aberdeen, north east Scotland. So my first impression was pretty grim: grey granite, sky and cold windy weather. Fortunately the people make a great first impression. They made up for the foul weather with their warmth and kindness!
What do you think of the food?
We really embraced the British love of curry! You can't go wrong ordering a chicken tikka masala. Other UK dishes failed to delight us - it often seems like everything is deep fried or wrapped in fatty pastry and value for money is hard to find. On the upside, the Brits have introduced us to one of my favourite indulgences: cream tea!
What do you think of the shopping in the UK?
Shopping is definitely fashion forward. It's easy to be on the cutting edge and never even stray from the high street shops. It can feel expensive until you discover bargain gems like Primark or stumble across the incredible sales of January and July!
What do you appreciate about living in the UK?
I appreciate the history. For a book nerd such as myself it's wonderful to walk in the footsteps of literary greats like Dickens and Orwell and, here in Oxford, Lewis and Tolkein. I also appreciate the forced necessity of living small. In Canada we take it for granted that we can stockpile lots of 'things' and buy every thing in bulk. Here in the UK because of the constraints of tiny flats, you are forced to take stock of what you really need to hold on to.
We truly appreciate access to mainland Europe. Affordable long weekends in fabulous cities like Paris, Pague and Barcelona are a major perk. Finally, I also love the convenience of buying wine and beer at the grocery store - this is illegal in Canada!
What do you find most frustrating about living in the UK?
Nothing is convenient - see previous comments about the lack of space! Finding parking is always hassle. Often it's easier to walk five miles than to drive and seek out parking. Even the 24-hour supermarkets close at 4pm on Sundays.
I also find the average Brit can be quite passive aggressive. For example I've heard many the Englishman mutter complaints under their breath about someone who has cut a queue or is listening to their music too loud on the train, but rarely will a person do anything about it!
What puzzles you about the UK and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
There are no electrical outlets or light switches in bathrooms! They claim to have central heating yet even brand new homes have clunky radiators on the walls. It's also a mystery why petrol costs more than twice as much as it does in Canada.
I miss my family and friends mostly, but also I miss goodies like Dairy Queen Blizzards and cheap high-quality sushi that is all over Vancouver. I miss coffee culture (Starbucks closes at 7pm here!) and I really miss seeing mountains every day.
How does the quality of life in the UK compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
My home city Vancouver regularly tops the polls for quality of life, but we do our best to keep it up, here in Oxford, despite drafty homes, hard beds and the limited availability of good fresh fruits and veg. It's much more expensive to eat well here, and you have to be very intentional about getting out of the city and into nature.
If you could change anything about the UK, what would it be?
The weather! There is no reliable summer. In Canada we can tolerate an icy winter because we know we'll get four glorious months of sunshine soon enough. In the UK there is no guarantee. Three out of three summers here have been miserable.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Investment of a good space heater and a mattress pad.
No day of countryside exploration is complete without cream tea.
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