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Lauren: English Wife, Indian Life

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in India makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to India, etc.

My name is Lauren, I live in Nagpur (Maharashtra) with my husband and in-laws. I moved to India from England at the end of December 2013, finding it difficult to live without my husband. Ours is a modern day love story, we met online and instantly knew we were meant to be together. I knew it was inevitable that I would visit India someday because I had always been fascinated with the culture. I did not know that when my dream of going to India finally did come true, I would be going there to meet my in-laws, get married to my true love and see where I would be living for the rest of my life. I have a master degree in pharmacy and left my career as a pharmacist behind in England, even after all those years of study it just feels right that I should be in India with my husband instead of behind the counter of a pharmacy. I really could not be happier and hope to use my medical knowledge here in India as volunteer once I am settled into Indian life.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging in August 2013 after returning from my first trip to India. It all started because I wanted to write what it was like in a long distance relationship, it soon became an account of married life in India as my circumstances changed. My blog has enabled me to express how I feel and connect with others in similar situations. I have had a lot of support from readers and my fair share of criticism too (especially when I decided to quit my job before finishing the registration period to become a practicing pharmacist in the UK).

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

My favourite post to date is Silent Night, Holy Cow. The reason I like this post is because I wrote it whilst reflecting on a completely blissful day in India. I also really like it because I have a fondness for cows.

Tell us about the ways your new life in India differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

There is one huge difference between my life in England (working full-time, living alone in my one bedroom flat) and my life in India. I am living with my in-laws indefinitely; it is normal for the wife to move in with her in-laws here in India but a shocking prospect in the west. I am getting used to it, even if it is still feeling slightly weird not to have a place of our own. Another big difference is the fact we have maids who do the cooking, cleaning and washing. This also is quite normal in India but feels really surreal to me. I will be having a nap and get woken up by the maid sweeping the bedroom floor. There are so many other culture shocks to speak of before I have even left my house!

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in India? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

My only regret is not full appreciating a good piece of cheddar cheese covered in Branston pickle accompanied with an ice cold glass of skimmed milk.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Well the fun started on my first morning in India. I was talking with my mother-in-law in the living room and suddenly her eyes widened. ‘Lauren, get out of the house’ she shouted! My initial thought was that there was a spider or a mouse, but no… monkeys. Two monkeys happily eating our food, one on the dining table and one of the top of the fridge. My mother-in-law had to get the gate keeper to chase them out with a stick!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in India?

  • Defend yourself. My first trip to India, before I moved here permanently, was really tarnished because I was bitten everywhere and spend a good portion of my stay on the toilet. Your stomach adjusts in time but you can never adjust to the mosquitoes so make sure you’re heavily armed from the first day with repellant and a net to sleep under.
  • Prepare yourself for a lack of privacy. People will want to know everything about you; your job, your parent’s job, your salary, your qualifications… it is just natural here (but for me it still feels so awkward to talk about such things). It is also quite normal to just walk into a room without knocking; this can be quite a shock if you are walking around in your underwear deciding what clothes to put on that day!
  • Stay optimistic. There will be times when you feel fed up and want to scream and runaway but then you will see a family of five riding the same moped or a cow sleeping in the middle of a busy road and smile again. I have heard a few people say that they have never loved and hated a country so much at the same time.

How is the expat community in India? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I have only discovered one other expat in Nagpur itself so far but through writing my blog and reading the blogs of others I have made many virtual expat friends who live in India. My experience of the expat community in India is that they are always more than happy to give great advice.

How would you summarize your expat life in India in a single, catchy sentence?

Home is where your heart is.

Jonathan Brown

"The great events organized by InterNations helped me get to know Delhi expats from all over the world."

Sophie Poirier

"When I moved from Canada to Delhi, InterNations helped me connect with fellow Americans and feel more at home."

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