At the start of 2008, when I learned we were moving to Cork City, Ireland from the Silicon Valley, I began researching the area. The first place I looked was searching for blogs from other expats who had made the move before me. In February 2008, I found only one, A Jamaican-American Expat in Cork.
I wondered what women wear, how I could fit in like a local, and all the little things that I could learn to build our new life in this new home. A Jamaican-American Expat in Cork and the online Debenham’s clothing catalogues were my guides to learn what to pack and expect from Cork City. I remember my husband sent me a photo of a woman in a pub in Cork to show me how people dressed going out for happy hour and I thought it was Paris Hilton with the high heels and dress. I was sure he was joking. He wasn’t. In spite of that, I felt sure my American clothing would make me stick out so I donated almost all my Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger clothing to charity. Now, I know I should have just packed my favorites no matter the style. Oh well.
The web was not as helpful as I hoped because it is not interactive, or at least it wasn’t in 2008 when I wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook yet. I wish I had reached out to someone early on. But, to me, it seemed like my future life in Cork was far away and more like jumping off a cliff to the unknown than stepping through a doorway to another phase of my life. Without connectivity, I wanted a way to offer the next expat making the same move to feel supported and I hoped it would also share news with my friends and family back in the States (again, this was before I joined Facebook). That feeling is what spurred me on to create my blog. In these last seven years, I’ve tried to keep up the authentic yet positive tone in my own blog and share insider insights about what my life is like here. It has also become a bit of a favourite resource for locals who are not expats, I’m happy to see.
Fast forward to 2015 when there are SO many expat blogs for just about any locale you can imagine around the globe. Even if mine is a top search result, the resources are there. In Ireland alone, there are dozens! Cork itself boasts many, including those abandoned after a few promises of posting more often. With so many other resources now available to arriving expats and study abroad students, I wonder if 40 Shades of Life has served its purpose and might be ready for retirement. There, I’ve put it into words. This thought has weighed on me for several months now because as much as I enjoy blogging and fielding questions from people planning to move here, I don’t know if I have anything unique to offer newcomers that the other blogs are not offering already.
Also, carving out time to craft thoughtful posts is a challenge. Initially, when I moved here, the posts were written about all the things we did. We were childless and enjoyed more spontaneity and freedom, which led to fun little posts about all the interesting goings on in town. Now, with my son, full-time dream job, designing, and Anchor and Bee vying for my spare time, I find the posts I’d write to be less dynamic. Or maybe just being here for over seven years has made my daily life feel too ordinary to post about. Also, my main blog, EvinOK.com, tends to be my main focus since it is more of a byproduct of how I spend my spare time.
With over 9,000 views a month, I am not taking this decision lightly and will figure out a way to always share the best content no matter what I decide. Who knows, maybe it’s time for me to finish my book about life as an expat. Either way, I’ll keep you in the loop.
Would you really read my posts if they were just recounting what we did this weekend or dinner from KC’s? I think it seems mundane, but maybe to someone else it seems exotic. No decision is being made, but I wanted to tell you that this is why I’ve not been actively posting the past few months on this blog. If you crave Cork City updates, I post often on Instagram, EvinOK.com, Twitter, and my 40 Shades of Life Facebook page.
So, no decisions made, but wanted to explain what I’m thinking about.