An Inbetweener: On being an Expat. 


The term Expat conjures up images of bronzed pensioners on the Costas, but expat is what I am. I’ve lived in Dublin for thirteen years; since I was 24, so most of my adult life. I have an Irish husband and two Irish children. I’m from Newcastle originally, and went to university in Sheffield , so it’s really been quite some time since Newcastle has been my full time home.

And yet.


It’s an odd feeling , being an expat. Neither one nor the other. An Inbetweener. People think of Ireland as being very similar to the UK, and in many ways it is, but there are subtle differences which you might only notice if you have lived in both. Some are small ; for example, differences in vocabulary – runners instead of trainers, chipper instead of chippy, press instead of cupboard. The Irish have a beautifully economic way with language at times,  which often comes from the translation of phrases from Gaelic into English. If press is a cupboard, then airing cupboard becomes ‘hot press.’ Say what you see.  My son is now learning Irish at school, and teaches me as he learns.

Go raibh maith agat – I say (thank you)

Tá fáilte romhat – he replies (you’re welcome)

There are larger differences. I am grappling with the education system , even the naming of the classes is different, starting with ‘Junior Infants’ instead of Reception. We have to pay for school books and make a payment to the School for photocopying and other sundries. Letters are sent asking for ‘voluntary’ contributions. The inextricable interweaving of church and state is all to evident in Irish schools, with the vast majority being Catholic. Priests and nuns visit the classrooms in my son’s school; can’t imagine what he makes of that given he has never set foot in a Church. There is no NHS;  you pay 60 euro to see a doctor and when my son stuck a piece of Lego up his nose a couple of years ago , the trip to A and E cost 125 quid. Ouch, indeed.

And it’s awkward , criticising a county when you’re not a citizen. Like slagging off someone’s family.

Missing Home

st marys
St Mary’s Island.

Never have I missed living at home so much as since I’ve had children. Not having the support of parents and childhood friends close by is tougher than I would ever have imagined.  But a recent visit home has reminded me of the other things I miss.

British TV – cosy Sunday night dramas or Saturday night on ITV.

British pubs –  proper country pubs with delicious food.

The NHS.The NHS.The NHS.


National Trust properties.

The grounds of Wallington Hall.

The countryside  -especially the Lake District.

Bread Sauce.

Tynemouth Longsands.

St Mary’s Island.


Grey Street, Newcastle.

A sense of belonging.

Yorkshire Puddings.



No caption required.


I return to Newcastle about twice a year. When I’m in Dublin and about to travel to Newcastle I say I’m going home. When I’m in Newcastle about to return to Dublin, I say I’m going home. Do I have two homes? Or none – an Inbetweener?


16 thoughts on “An Inbetweener: On being an Expat. 

  1. I totally get that inbetweener feeling. I grew up in the US but moved to the UK when I was 21. That was about 15 years ago. I have British citizenship and think I’ve assimilated the culture, but my accent (which has softened but will never go away – nor would I want it to because it would be poser-y) marks me as an outsider. I get really frustrated when people are always pointing out my foreign roots! You’ve inspired me to write about my own expat-ness at some point. Although I don’t particularly miss America so it will be a different sort of post! I’ll give you a shout out for the idea if I do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favourite topics as you might know….
    1. National Trust shops 2. National Trust buildings 3. National Trust-related anything
    3. Crabtree & Evelyn 4. Crumbly fudge 5. Half-timbered anything 6. Especially half-timbered pubs with Yorkshire pudding on the menu 7. Fruit wines 8. Cashiers who call you ‘love’, ‘pet’ or ‘cock’ 9. Yes to free doctors 10. Real villages.
    And loads of other stuff but I could get boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a poignant post especially seeing ‘friends’ listed amongst the things you miss.

    That and a sense of belonging. It sounds hard. I hope that through your blog at least you are able to make some connections.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s nice to hear of the differences and similarities but the NHS what a huge part it does actually play in our UK lives. Ireland (or Canada…or Switzerland! ) have always been my choices should we have to emigrate. We nearly made the Austin move when the Twins were newborn but in the end we stayed in the UK. The major issue of family is a big part of it. At least you can still get home fairly easily and quickly but I understand your dilemma! Really enjoyed reading this, thank you. X #stayclassymama


  5. I can relate to you. I’m a British expat that’s been living in Denmark for over a year. I miss the UK dearly, but I have a Danish husband-to-be and a Danish daughter. Living in Denmark is better for us as a family. I miss British food, mainly! I miss a good takeaway as most where I live are quite naff. I find blogging has helped me a lot to connect with other parents and not feel so isolated and lonely. I’m also taking language classes to get me out and about.

    It’s tough, very tough, but it’s doable. #fortheloveofBLOG


  6. It must be so difficult and I can’t say I can relate but I know the feeling of wanting a sense of belonging. Share with your children all your memories, Yorkshire puddings, grey street etc. Like they say home is where the heart is! Stay strong #KCACOLS


  7. Oh I can relate to this, I’m back in the UK now but lived abroad in Australia, Germany and Austria for at least a year in each. Great experiences and you really get to appreciate other cultures but YES there is a long list of things I missed. Yorkshire puddings high on there, plus of course the sense of ‘belonging’!! Having said that I miss being able to plan a bbq in Aus and know with 100% certainty it will be sunny and in long Sunday brunches and Coffee & Cake in Germany. Lovely post! #kcacols


  8. Hi I’m an expat in Paris, I totally get this. I feel a loss of my centre of gravity, and just my life is floating about. I really miss popping out and getting a really good curry! I also miss my friends from around the corner, I am making friends here, but we live all over Paris – just nice to pop out to you local with you besties! It’s been hard for the kids too, but now their French is amazing, and they are correcting me! But hey I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I really can’t complain! Thanks for a lovely post and sharing your expat experience. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

  9. They don’t have Friends there?!?!?! I would die lol. I know exactly how you feel, London is very similar to San Francisco in that we speak the same language but the subtle differences are immense. Soooooo many different ways of saying things! It’s funny as I was reading I was thinking yea like trainers to sneakers…..or fries to chips, I was translating the American while you were translating the Irish. Funny how there’s these slight differences eh? I say home when I go to SF and I say home when I come here. I haven’t been back for almost two years now because of the pregnancy and baby, but I’m going home for Christmas and I’m so excited to see my friends and Mom! ; ) I’ve known my friends since I was five years old and it’s sad that they haven’t even met my son yet so really looking forward to it. Anyway I totally feel you on this. Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!


  10. Ah I love this, gosh I don’t know what I would do without the NHS. Home is a funny thing, when I went to uni 300 miles away I called both places home. I still sometimes refer to my mum and dad’s house as home! I don’t especially like the area I live in but there’s a huge pull because all my family are here –I don’t think I could live anywhere else now. It must be so hard for you having your children away from your own support network. #StayClassyMama


  11. I know what you mean very well. I left Peru 11 years ago and I feel the UK and Peru are both my homes although the more I am here the more this place is becoming my main home. I missed Peru a lot. The weather is one of the main things I missed. We have a lovely weather over there. I missed having a proper summer an be tan for once during the summer. Being able to do the beach at any time. The food is just AMAZING and I really missed it. And the most important part I missed my family and friends. It is hard being Ex Pat. Thanks so much for sharing this #KCACOLS, 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

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