Making Roots

I have been living in the U.K. around three months now. It still feels weird and surprising sometimes. I catch myself thinking “Oh, this a different country.” But I’m getting settled here and am really starting to feel at home. Although there are definitely things I miss from the U.S., like liquid coffee creamer and cinnabons.

I’ve been working hard to start setting some roots here, in this new country of mine. I applied and received my provisional license so I can start learning how to navigate those death traps they call roundabouts. We’ve been busy getting settled into our apartment, buying all the things you need for a new home. I’ve slowly been checking off my bucket list of all the “touristy” London things to do. I’m also making my way to as many coffeeshops as I can find.

As it turns out, I’m not very good at being a stay at home person. Shocking, I’m sure to anyone who knows me. I spent many years working while going to school, working multiple jobs, and even working multiple jobs while going to school. So, staying home all day everyday was nice and relaxing for the first few weeks and then I started to feel like I was going a little bit more insane everyday.

This is why I’m so excited that I’ve started a position with FQ Magazine. A magazine geared towards parenting, especially fathers. It’s so exciting and satisfying to finally be working in a field where my passion lies. However, I am running into some difficulties, like learning the British way of spelling things as compared to the American and the different styles of writing. But, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. Here are a few of my first published pieces. Go ahead and check them out!

Here’s how to add more veggie’s into your family’s diet

Making healthy school packed lunches for your child

How to “eat” more water

Coffeehouse Roundup

The winter weather here is still taking me a bit to get used to. I’m used to freezing cold temps, car sliding in the street because of all the snow, falling to your doom on black ice, and winds so bitter cold that it feels like someone punched you in the chest when you step outside of your house.

However, here in the UK most of their cold weather comes in the form of rain. It’s been raining  for months I feel like and I’m starting to feel torn as to which weather I’d rather have. While I do not miss eating it on the icy sidewalks or walking through snow that’s up to my chins, I am starting to get tired of the rain. Since the cold weather has hit, I’ve been spending more time inside coffee shops. So, I thought it would be fun to do a roundup of my favorite ones.

The Syon Café

The Syon Café was the first coffeehouse I visited in the UK. Just walking distance from our home, they offer coffee, teas, breakfast and lunch. It’s super cozy in there and I often spend my mornings reading in there over a mocha and order of French toast. I usually try something new from the menu when I go there, and I haven’t had anything that I didn’t like.

Coffee Republic

I’ve been to two different Coffee Republic locations and would say that my favorite location is the one in Bedford. You can get fun festive drinks with every edible favors on top. They also offer a full menu of sandwiches, soups and pastries.

Coffee with Art

If you’re looking to have a more solid flavor and decorative design on your latte, Coffee with Art is where you want to be. They create a snug and homely feeling that you won’t want to leave. They offer probably the largest food menu that I’ve seen from coffeeshops here so far and I’m always treated with some type of design in my latte.

Caffé Nero

In my opinion, is very similar to Coffee Republic. If you’re looking for fun and festive drinks, Caffee Nero is the place to go. The last time I was there, I had a Belgian truffle chocolate hot chocolate which I added espresso to. They topped the drink with whipped cream and chocolate drops which steadily melted into the already chocolatey drink, super tasty.

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Starbucks

It’s so odd to me that Starbucks is more of an emerging brand here. Towns are still popping up with new Starbucks. We’ve been to several around town and all have been delicious. Whenever I’m starting to miss home, Starbucks is definitely a way to cheer me up.

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Learning a New Language in the UK.

I didn’t think moving to England would require learning a second language, but it does. Although both England and the US are English speaking countries, there is a HUGE difference in our day to day language. Also similar to the US, depending on where in England you are people speak with different accents.

All of this has definitely made for some interesting conversations.  Here’s a list of the biggest word mix-ups I’ve heard so far!

Mate – Friend

Flats – Apartments

Carpark – Parking lot

Chips – Fries

Crisps – Chips

Toilet – Bathroom

Autumn – Fall

Biscuits – Cookies

Lift – Elevator

Lorry – Bus/Trucks

Mobile – Cell phone

Sweets – Candy

These are just a few. I’m sure I’ll hear many more.

Living in England.

I’ve been in the UK for a little under a month now and I think I’m finally getting adjusted to things here. I didn’t think going from the United States to the UK would be so different but they’re different worlds. This is what I’ve experienced so far.


  • People will greet you with “Are you alright?” ( I’m still not really sure how to answer that.)
  • London reminds me very much of New York. Busy streets filled with traffic going every which way, tons of stores and places to eat, and tons of people.
  • Drivers sit on the right side of the car and roundabouts are everywhere. People tell me it’s to help the traffic keep following. I’m not convinced, I feel like we’re just chancing our lives every turn we take on there.
  • The British are HUGE tea drinkers, but you can find coffee shops nearly everywhere. There are three different ones in walking distance from our apartment. (Apartments are also called flats here.)
  • If you ask for soy milk in your latte, they will often correct you and call it soya.
  • Walking is the easiest mode of transportation. Finding a parking spot is like hitting the lottery.
  • Portion sizes are much smaller here as compared to the US. This combined with the all the walking, I may be in the best shape of my life.
  • London is also very diverse, which I found very surprising. Just walking down, the street you will hear loads of different languages being spoken.
  • There are tiny switches on EVERY outlet. You turn the switch on when you want to plug something in there and turn it off when you’re done. Which makes me think we may be wasting a lot of energy in the US.
  • England is naturally beautiful. This little gem of island is filled with so much history and gorgeous scenery, you’ll want to take pictures everywhere you go.

Our Spouse Visa Story

I’ve been wanting to craft the perfect way to describe our experience with the spouse visa for a while now. I think the idea of wanting it to be perfect and writing it in the most effective way has hindered me from writing this post at all. In all actuality this experience was one of the hardest I’ve ever done in my life and I have yet to write something so personal on this blog. But here it goes, imperfections and all. It was super helpful and comforting for me to read the stories of other people who were going through the same thing, so I hope that this can be that source of comfort for someone else.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, or in any position to give legal advice. I am simply sharing our story.

The Beginning

To backtrack just a little let me start by explaining the love of my life is a British citizen, living in the UK and I was from Cleveland, Ohio. We decided to start our new marriage and life living in England. As young people just trying to survive and muddle our way through this thing called life, we were very uneducated about the whole process of moving countries and everything that it entailed. In our first attempt, I packed up my entire life in two suitcases and flew to London. No visa, return ticket, or money. Do NOT do this. I was promptly refused entry into the U.K. and had to return to the United States after spending 8 hours being detained. This was the lowest point of my life. I had left everything in the United States, my apartment, job, I had given away virtually all of my furniture. Thankfully, I had left my job in good terms and my boss allowed me to come back to work. I was able to return to my apartment and my mom helped me get all of my things back.

My then fiancé and I racked our brains trying to figure out what we should do next. Our next attempt was a visitor’s visa, that would allow me to visit the U.K. Our thinking was that we could get married while I was on the visitor’s visa and then apply for me to stay in the U.K. Also, do NOT do this. Our visitor’s visa was refused. As it turns out, you cannot marry in the U.K. on a visitor’s visa. This visa is namely for people who intend to just visit the U.K for a short period. You need to submit things like, what you plan to do while visiting, bank statements or something of the sort proving you can support yourself while visiting, also you must show some sort of proof that you intend to return to your home country. We had only provided some of these evidences, again we were very uneducated about this process. Do not be like us.

Devastation hit again. For those who don’t know, being in a long-distance relationship is hard enough on its own. So, to add on the extra stresses of being denied entry on two occasions now, was even more stressful for us. We finally resolved to speak with a lawyer. I met with a lawyer in my city and left feeling worse than before I went in. The lawyer advised that I would most likely never be able to enter the U.K. because of the two different refusals I had. I remember feeling hopeless.  It’s lucky my husband is a much stronger hearted person than I am, he never gave up hope and assured me that we would find a way no matter what.

It’s funny how things work out. We ended up changing gears completely and married in the United States. I’m so happy that we did, the closest people to me were able to attend and it was the most magical day of my life. After the wedding, my husband and I decided that he would meet with a lawyer in the U.K. to get a realistic look on what our chances were for me to be there with him before we started the process for my husband to move to U.S.

The UK Spousal Visa

My husband met with a lawyer, or solicitor if you’re a Brit. She assured us that each application is looked at on its own merit. That as long as we provided all the necessary documentation, we should have no problem obtaining a Spousal Visa for me. So, after much deliberation we decided to give it a go.

We started pulling together all the necessary documentation in January. We needed things like bank statements, an agreement from the landlord, a housing evaluation, pay stubs and letter from my husband’s employer, our marriage license and wedding photos as well as photos showing that we’d actually met in person. By April we had all the documentation and funds we needed to process our application. After submitting the application with the help of our lawyer, all that was left was for me was to attend what is called a biometric appointment. All you do here is have your fingerprints taken, passport sized photo is taken and a list of your weight, height and things of that nature. I remember thinking after I left the appointment, that we had made it. That the hardest part was over. I was wrong.

About ten days later we received an email from the UK Home Office that our application was currently being processed, that it would take 12 weeks to process and we would receive an email once a decision had been made. Keep in mind that the 12 weeks only takes into account business days and excludes weekends and holidays. So, 12 weeks is really 16 weeks.

The Wait Begins

These 16 weeks were the hardest weeks in my entire life. They were much more stressful than the months we spent gathering all the evidence. I think it’s the feeling of being left totally in the dark. There is no way to track your application, no way to see what stage it’s at and no way of knowing what’s going on with it. I mean even when I order pizza from Papa John’s I can see when my pizza goes from baking to boxing to when it’s on its way to my house. This was not the case with our visa.

Every morning I would wake up and check my email to see if a decision had been made. It was agony. You send off your application with the hopes that it would be approved, but then you’re left waiting. Every day you wonder if an officer would make a decision on your application today. Maybe today would be the day the rest of your life would be decided. I spent my days going crazy wondering if everything was okay with our application, wondering if our evidence was good enough or if we made an error on one of forms.

Finally, after 16 long weeks we received an email that a decision had been made on our application. As if the process isn’t hard enough, when you finally get an email saying a decision has been made, the email doesn’t say whether or not your application has been accepted or not. What happens is that, the UK Home Office mails your application and supporting evidence back to you and if your application has been accepted, your passport will now contain a shiny new vignette sticker stating your entry clearance into the UK.

The Decision Finally Arrives

When my documents finally arrived, I opened it with my husband on Facetime to find a letter stating that our visa application had been successful. After all of our attempts, all of our hard work and weeks of waiting. I was finally on my way to starting our new life in the UK.