From London to Bentonville!

Reflecting six months on from my move from London to Bentonville and what a fantastic adventure it's been so far with dunnhumby and Walmart Luminate!

By Ellie Brooke, Grocery Retail Consultant at dunnhumby

When the routine is easy, change it

Everyone I’ve spoken to who has lived abroad has had no regrets and I was determined to discover what all the fuss was about.

Announcing a move to America in 2020 elicited very different response to the follow up message that I was moving to Bentonville, Arkansas. Most of my friends had never heard of Arkansas, and those that had were even more worried.

For me, the prospect of moving somewhere completely different made it more exciting and I couldn’t wait to begin my adventure. Leaving my hockey club, my friends, and a job I really enjoyed was hard, and also completely unnatural. I questioned why I was leaving a life I was happy with. But deep down I knew it was all becoming a little bit too easy in London. My social and work life were a happy routine and without something drastic happening I would just continue on that path.

Vincent and I after completing the Bentonville Half Marathon (with American sized medals!) October 2021.

Be prepared to start again

Covid and visa complications slowed the move, but within two weeks of the visa being granted I was on the plane. The feeling of having packed up my whole life into a bag and heading somewhere completely unknown was incredibly liberating, unlike the feeling I had during my first night in the hotel of not having anything on my social calendar, and only knowing a handful of people. So, that first week I bought a car, joined a running club and ran the Bentonville half marathon as a way of exploring the town. Problem solved!

Hiking the Yellow Rock Trail, December 2021.

Accept the change and embrace the difference

As I began to get to know Bentonville it became extremely clear that it wasn’t London, very far from it. It’s much smaller, pavements are pretty non-existent, and everything closes very early! On the other hand, the running and cycling trail system is amazing, the people are incredibly friendly, and the pace of life is far more relaxed.

The running club quickly became a huge part of my life. We meet in the (very) early hours, run on the trails, and then meet back at the bagel shop at 7am for breakfast before the working day begins. I’ve spent weekends away with the group for races, embarrassed myself at the Christmas party (the word ‘Crackers’ which was on my jumper does NOT translate well across the pond), and I’ve made some lifelong friends.

Celebrating Christmas with the running club, December 2021

If it was easy, everyone would do it, so do it!

The dunnhumby mobility team guide you along the way and support you in getting your new life set up and ready to go. Bank accounts, pensions, tax, student loans…the list goes on, and all need organizing when you move, which certainly isn’t easy. One of my favorite mottos I go by is ‘if it was easy, everyone would do it’. This stuck with me as I navigated through the horrendous amounts of paperwork, so I got my head down, organized what I needed to, and quickly started to feel at home.

Working with the largest retailer in the world and being part of the ‘landing team’ is such a fantastic career opportunity. It’s challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Everyones opinion in the team is valued and due to the diversity of the team (13 nationalities and counting), we are always learning from each other and sharing our experiences from around the world. And, as a dunnhumbian, who wouldn’t want to experience living and working in the Silicon Valley of Grocery?!

Hosting a British Tea Party for the running club, March 2022.

Two is always better than one

As I reflect on my first six months of adventures, there is one thing that has stuck with me. One has become two. I am now part of two worlds – two languages (yes, US English is different!), two currencies, two homes, two lives…. but two is always better than one, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Ellie's top tips for moving abroad

  1. Move with an open mind. Everything will be new and different, so embracing the change rather than comparing ‘old’ and ‘new’ will make things easier.
  2. Join a community (sports club, social group etc.) as quickly as possible. It’s an easy way to make friends outside work and build your personal life.
  3. Don’t put a time stamp on your adventure. A time stamp means you’re always counting down to the end, rather than opening yourself up to new opportunities.