Family info (kids, ages): Sophie, 18
What country are you from? When did you move to the US?
Born in UK, moved to Canada at 8, moved back to the UK in 2001, moved to the US from London in 2013, married to a Brazilian
Pets: Cavapoo … Ozzie
Do you still have family members in the UK?
Yes. My daughter chose to go back for university, and I have cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.
What is your family’s story? Why did you choose to move to the USA?
I’ve moved a lot! I was born in England to English parents, then spent time living in Providence, RI and Sydney, Australia before moving to Canada at 8. I went to university in Toronto where I majored in Japanese language and literature and Spanish Studies, and then I went to live in Japan. After that, it was back to Toronto, and then to grad school where I met my husband - who is from Brazil. After we finished our MBAs we decided that we wanted to live in London, and went on to spend 12 years there. So, here in Rye, most people that meet me assume that I’m American, as my accent has morphed over the years. Our move to the US is a pretty typical story of a husband’s work transfer, one that we thought would make it easier to see family in Canada and Brazil more often.
What challenges have you faced in the US? How have you overcome them?
Obviously spoken language was not going to pose a problem, but I did (and still do) have to get used to American spelling and vocabulary. Canadians use British spelling, so we write colour, neighbour, theatre, centre, odour, ardour; programme; we wait “in line” rather than “on line”, and when we’re driving, we’re en route (the french pronunciation), rather than what sounds like EN ROWT. Even though - apparently - Shakespeare spelled without the ‘u’, it’s a hard habit to shake!
What is the culture like in the UK?
This depends a lot on which part of the country. When we’re in England, we spend a lot of time in Yorkshire and Derbyshire — days outdoors walking in the Peak District or Derbyshire Dales. Life there is a lot more relaxed and simple. We love the pub lunches, the drives across the moors and the country walks.
London is a whole other world and is incredible! The parks, the small neighborhoods, restaurants, history … everything is there and it never gets old! London is a walking and cycling city, and I miss being able to walk everywhere.
What was your perception of the US before you moved here? How has it changed (or not) once you lived here?
I grew up very familiar with what life in the US would be like. I spent my formative years living in London, Ontario and then Toronto — both of which are within hours of the US border — so I grew up watching American news and TV shows, and listening to American music. And, with the requisite cross-country roadtrip to California as a teenager, I have travelled to more American states than Canadian provinces or English counties put together!
In terms of what I thought Rye would be like, I really had no idea! I had a friend in London whose husband had grown up here and gone to RHS. She had suggested that I check out Larchmont, Bronxville and Rye. We found a house to rent in Rye, and that’s really how we found ourselves here. I love that Rye is on the water — which unbelievably I wasn’t aware of until we moved here. I love that Rye is a multi-national community and that I live on a street with people who have made their way here from all over the world!
What are typical traditions? How do you continue to teach your culture and continue your traditions with your family?
It’s England … so a lot of life is similar to life here in the US. Most of our family traditions have to do with food and sport. We love a good pie and we’ll bake scones and drink tea! We also maintain the Christmas cracker tradition! And while the World Cup final has yet to come down to England vs Brazil, we’re always rooting for both.
What are typical foods from your country? Is there anything you miss that you cannot get here in the US?
It’s not so much a particular food that I miss, rather it’s the supermarkets - Marks and Spencer and Waitrose. The variety of food and the quality is so good … and so much cheaper! That said, Jerry’s has a decent supply of British comfort foods and there is a good market in the West Village, so it’s easy to stock up on favorites. I do miss a good crumpet, and Whole Earth peanut butter … but I was lucky to be given the steak and ale pie recipe from my favorite pub on Strines Moor … and that is always a treat!
As for Canada, I’m always happy for that first Tim Horton’s Ice Cappuccino or Double Double and a small box of chocolate Timbits when we get close to the border! I’ve heard there is a “timmie’s” in New Rochelle, but have yet to go there.
And Brazil? A fresh pão de queijo, some super juicy papaya, coconut water fresh from the coconut, or pineapple juice with mint … and a caipirinha in the evening! We can get all of these here in Rye, but somehow, they taste better when sitting in the sunshine!
What languages do you speak? What language do you speak at home? What are you teaching your children?
My native language is English. I also speak Spanish, Portuguese, as well as basic French and Japanese. At home it’s a mixture of English and Portuguese, although we’ll sneak in some Spanish and French as well. I like to listen to radio and music from all over the world … just to get the sense of being somewhere else, which was great during the Pandemic when we couldn’t go anywhere.
What's the climate/geography like in the UK?
I’m always amazed how people criticize the weather. Yes, it rains. Yes, it can be gray. But, by February, the daffodils are out in the parks and winter is pretty much over! Spring and summer are beautiful, especially the long summer days.
The UK is beautiful - the green of the countryside, the Lake District, the Scottish Isles, the Yorkshire Dales, the seaside villages, the urban city centers … all mean that really there is something for everyone. It’s why we love to watch things like Broadchurch, Endeavour, All Creatures Great and Small and Suspicion. There is such a great variety. I always find it funny that while Brits love to complain about all sorts of things … they miss it when they’re away!!
How is working in the US different? Are there stark contrasts?
I have been working in parent education since 2010 - teaching positive parenting courses and workshops both in London and here in Rye. I’m still very connected to work in the UK and for what I do, there are more similarities than contrasts. Parents want to help their children thrive, and Central London and Rye are alike in that parents are well-educated, successful and want to provide their children every opportunity to grow up healthy and fulfilled. As my colleagues are based in London, it’s really great to be able to pool our resources to keep building on what we do! I have a new 6-week course starting up in-person at Wainwright House starting in April.
How do you maintain your connections with family?
We travel back and forth … and now my daughter is in university in England, we are going back more often! We spend a lot of time on FaceTime, What’sApp groups …
How do you connect with others from your culture here in the US?
For Canada, we have a Facebook group of Canadians in Rye.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot in the US?
Not really a favorite, because we usually travel to other countries to visit family. We did enjoy Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape, and we’ve been to Colorado a few times - and we’d be happy to return to any of those places.
What else would you like to share with us? What more can we learn from you?
I’ve been lucky to have traveled all my life and live in some pretty amazing places. I’ve learned that there is a big difference between simply fitting in somewhere and really feeling that sense of belonging of ‘home’. Many will have the experience that the country they move to becomes home, while others will always feel that home is somewhere else. While I love living here in Rye, and so glad for the experience to live in the US, I’m of the camp that feels that home is somewhere else.