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What it's like to live abroad: It's been such an adventure

By Heather Large | Weekend | Published:

Uprooting your life and moving thousands of miles away to a new country is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Living the American dream – Isobelle, Angela, Angela’s mum Diane, Jim and Louis

But Angela Moody and her family have relished the opportunity to put down roots in a foreign place – not just once, but twice.

For the past 10 years, they have been enjoying everything the great outdoors has to offer in the American state of Utah after spending three years in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

“It’s been a real adventure. We love discovering new places and different cultures,” says Angela, aged 43, who originally hails from Bewdley.

She now lives in Alpine with her husband Jim, 52, and two children Isabelle, 17, and Louis, 14 and works as a program director for equine therapy centre Courage Reins, which helps children with special needs.

Living the American dream – Isobelle, Angela, Angela’s mum Diane, Jim and Louis

The city of Alpine is located on the slopes of the Wasatch Range and has a population of 9,555 residents. At their home they are surrounded by animals including chickens, ducks, horses, dogs and a cat and enjoy mountain views as well as a swimming pool.

“The standard of living is better, we couldn’t do this in England. It’s a really nice place to live. We’re 20 miles from Salt Lake City. We have four different seasons. In the summer it’s hot – the temperature has been in the 90s everyday for the last three months. The summers are really long and then in winter you get lots of snow and skiing.

“We live 25 miles from the ski resorts. We are also close to American Fork Canyon which is one of the most scenic drives in the US. In the fall, you get the canyon tree leaves changing colour and it’s really pretty,” says Angela.

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Her family enjoys making the most of the area where they live and the plethora of opportunities it offers to spend time out in the fresh air.

“There is a lot of riding. I do endurance riding, cross-country racing and Utah is a such a great place for that. There is a lot of wilderness and open trails. We go riding into the mountains for 10 to 14 miles. We love being outside and it was the same when we lived France. The weather here is great and I like hiking and gardening,” explains Angela.

It’s been Jim’s job as a product manager for a global technology company led to them to moving first to France and then to Utah after they made it known they would be open to the opportunity. Each new place has brought some unique challenges for the family who have had to work hard to settle in and make friends.

Angela horseriding in the mountains

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“Living in France was exciting and living in an area with no other English people was an experience. Not many Brits move to the region where we lived so we had a very French experience. It was really simple living and we met some really good people,” she tells us.

While in Utah, they have found themselves immersed in and learning about the Mormon way of life. The majority of the population is Mormon and the Morman Church, also called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a strong influence on Beehive State’s cultural life and traditions.

“Utah has a very different culture to most of America. They don’t drink tea or coffee here. In England and France, if you go to someone’s house, you are offered tea or coffee to drink but that doesn’t happen here.

“People socialise in their church and it was difficult at first because we didn’t really fit in. Since we’ve been here, we’ve made some friends mostly through the kids and through the school. We feel at home here now. My children seem more American than English. Louis was only four when we moved here so most of his life has been spent here. He has an American accent but he still likes his soccer,” explains Angela.

There are aspects of life in England that she misses and leaving friends and family at home is never easy for anyone.

Hit the beach – enjoying a beautiful sunset

“We miss the British sense of humour and going to the pub and seeing friends on a Friday night. There isn’t that pub culture here. I miss food like English sausages and fish and chips. I miss all of my friends back in the UK. I do try not to let what I miss get to me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cope, and the thought of leaving all the people I care about would overwhelm me,” she tells us.

Moving their belongings – as well as some of their pets – around the world was also a learning curve but Angela says it’s all been worthwhile. “Moving everything, buying a house in a new place and finding out how mortgages and banks work in a different country can be stressful.

“In America, healthcare is very different and it’s taken a while to understand how it works. There were lots of changes but we’ve been here 10 years and it’s our home,” explains Angela.

Her advice for anyone else trying to adapt to a new country or culture is to keep an open mind and to make the most of any opportunities that arise. “You have to feel positive, have a positive outlook and plan to enjoy where you live and not focus too much on things back home. You have to make the most of where you live and getting to know people,” says Angela.

The family enjoy exploring both their home state as well as other areas of America.

“Utah is full of natural beauty like the red rock and has many National Parks. We’ve been out to California and we are going to San Diego for the weekend. It’s a real treat to discover new places.”

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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