- After learning about the opportunity in December we finalized our decision to take an assignment in Great Britain for 9 months. Andrew’s 2016 schedule had him in the US for 1 week a month and we decided we should live in the same country in 2017.
- Rachel accepted the Chapter Advisor position for the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter at University of Washington (this was in the works before we decided to go to GB). Rachel was in the AOII chapter at Montana State University in Bozeman as an undergrad.
- Rachel traveled to Nashville for an AOII Leadership convention to network with other leaders and learn more about the organization.
- As our departure date approached Rachel said goodbye to her job at Mary’s Place in Seattle. She was worked as part of the employment team as a career coach, coaching people experiencing homeless on job skills, and company liaison, building relationships with non-profits willing to become employers. Read about Mary’s Place: http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/
- Andrew traveled to GB one last time before the big move.
- We packed, threw a going away party and moved!!! Was this ever a task! Not only did we have to pack everything up, but deciding what to take for the next nine months proved challenging. While I (Rachel) knew that GB would have everything we needed, I knew it would be nice to bring some things that would remind me of home (pictures, knick knacks) and some creature comforts (favorite polar fleece blanket, down comforter) and some more practical things, like over the counter medicines that require a prescription in the UK (Melatonin, Alieve, etc). I should have made a decision tree for that one but it probably would have looked like a bad football play.
- Upon arrival Ezra went to quarantine even after a vet review and USDA representative review of his paperwork: Mr. Doggo had a three day gap in his rabies vaccination resulting in a 21 day kennel stay. The blessing in all of it was that we were able to choose where he was boarded and somehow (Providentially) chose the most benevolent kennel owner who had a soft spot for Ezra and cooked him chicken and rice when he wasn’t feeling well (stress). We visited him during his jail time and worried but he came home just fine and didn’t seem worse for the wear. In hindsight we should have hired a firm to handle the paperwork but we thought we were being frugal by doing it all ourselves. Read more: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/03/17/uk-arrival/
- Upon arrival we moved into an executive serviced apartment (ESA) while we looked for a place to call home. The ESA felt more like a hotel than a place we could relax for the next 9 months.
- Finding an apartment proved difficult as few rentals allow pets. We eventually found a place with a view that knocked our socks off. Read more: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/04/23/home-home-on-the-quay/
- Seattle friends Kimi and Charlie were in London for a work trip so we drove into London for dinner. Rachel rode the train in during the week to have some girl time with Kimi. We miss our sweet friends! Read more: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/02/trips-to-london-town/
- Our shipment from Seattle arrived so unpack we did the items we had deemed un-live-without-able and started navigating life in Poole.
- We opened a bank account which was no easy task. (I’ll blog on that eventually)
- Andrew had a three day weekend so we made a get away to London. Read more: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/02/trips-to-london-town/
- Andrew’s cousin, Nick, was in Luxembourg doing some post-college-graduation (same University as Andrew!) travel so naturally we booked a low-cost-carrier flight east. We loved spending time with Nick and friends the Lloyds. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/06/06/lovely-luxembourg/
- I (Rachel) was missing my choir back in Seattle so I found a singing course offered by an a capella group. I enjoyed the 6 week class and joined the chorus after passing my audition.
- We celebrated our 4th anniversary in Split, Croatia. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/07/02/croatia/
- Andrew’s aunt, Theresa, visited for a weekend after meeting up with her son Nick whom we visited in Luxembourg (see above). We had the best time catching up and visiting Hurst castle together.
- Our friends from Seattle, aka the Lovebirds, Bryan and Caroline, were kind enough to meet up with us on their honeymoon so we spent a whirlwind 24 hours together in Londontown.
- Rachel flew to Montana to throw a bridal shower for her brother, Peter’s betrothed, Renée. A week later Peter and Renée married on a beautiful day in Billings, Montana. Andrew made a quick trip to the states to celebrate with the Hofacker clan. Wedding photos by Sara Jeanne Photography
- Rachel stayed in Montana for a few weeks post wedding to attend the 100th anniversary of the Alpha Phi chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Montana State University. She celebrated with loads of friends from college (or as the Brits would say – mates from uni) and met an AOII who studied abroad at MSU and lives in London.
- Andrew’s program wasn’t going to finish within the year, as we thought would be the case, so we decided to stay in the UK for a bit longer, until fall 2018 give or take. While we have traveled on the continent we have failed to explore much of the UK. But we are determined to change this. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/11/20/chapter-2-2018/
- At the end of August we received notice that our landlords were giving us the boot and moving back into the terrace house we were renting. And so the hunt began for a new abode.
- Rachel’s parents came for a visit in October. Highlights were trips to Corfe Castle (UK) and a steam train ride, London and Paris. You can see we enjoyed all the culinary delights Paris has to offer. teehee
- Since we were extending our stay in Jolly Ol’ England, we transferred our church membership to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England we attend. The timing coincided just so that Rachel’s parents where able to attend the service.
- The Sunday Rachel’s parents departed, we flew to Morocco to join friends Teresa and Charlie on the African leg of their overseas trip. Andrew and Charlie traveled together post-college so they were happy to reunite for adventure 2.0 with wife upgrades. We really had the best trip together.
- The week after our Morocco trip, Rachel competed with her chorus in the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Convention in Bournemouth, UK. Read more here: https://andrewandrachel.com/2017/10/31/ladies-association-of-british-barbershop-convention/
- On the 31st, Rachel took the train to London for a special Reformation Service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
- We struggled to find a new apartment but eventually settled on a space relatively close to our original neighborhood. We packed, signed the papers for the new place and moved the day before we left for France, a trip scheduled before we knew of our landlord’s intentions.
- Pack, pack, pack. Move, move, move and we hopped on the chunnel for Disneyland Paris. We enjoyed the French interpretation of Disney magic and subsequently spent a few days in Paris proper before heading home.
- We unpacked and are still working on making our “house into a home”.
- Rachel’s chorus provided the entertainment for visitors to Upton house, a historic home in Poole.
- For Thanksgiving Rachel collaborated with Andrew’s coworker’s wife, Sheryl, to plan and host a traditional feast for Andrew’s Expat coworkers. It was a huge success and everyone appreciated the taste of home!
- Another Christmas singout: Rachel sang with her chorus, Wessex Harmony, at a historic state house called Kingston Lacey!
- We are settling in, trimming our tree, decorating ugly sweater cookies, and caroling loudly for all to hear. (And watching Elf on repeat, obv)
- On the 7th we will fly to Hamburg, Germany to experience the Christmas markets, drink mulled wine and visit a miniatures museum Andrew has had his eye on for some time http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/
- Rachel has a Christmas concert on Dec 14th!!! Much excite!
- We are headed to Scotland on Boxing Day to find some snow and drink cocoa by a fireplace for a week. Ezra is coming along as we secured a dog friendly Airbnb. And it’s just not Christmas without a ball of fur/joy who licks your nose and snuggles next to you.
Here we are another year older, hopefully wiser! It has been a wild ride and we count our blessings every day for this awesome European adventure. We miss you all and wish you a beautiful Christmas and New Year!
Love, The Fergs aka Team USA