Moving to Finland: Living in Helsinki, Finland as an expat

Recently, Finland and Helsinki have achieved high rankings in international ratings in education, living standard and safety. While it is indeed a very good place for to live, is it as perfect for expats? What it’s like to live in Helsinki, Finland as an expat? What is the cost of living in Helsinki, or best places to visit in Helsinki? Let’s find out!

 

1. About Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is a capital of Finland and the country’s biggest city. It was founded in 1550 on the shore of the Baltic Sea. There is Helsinki city (with population 650k) and Helsinki Metropolitan area, which includes satellite cities: Espoo and Vantaa.

living in Helsinki as an expat

Helsinki Cathedral


Helsinki is the second smallest (after Brussels) capital of Europe and is the coldest one. It is famous for its closeness to nature and modernity. Also, it attracts tourists with its lakes and islands. There are about 300 islands on the shoreline, many are connected with bridges. There are 8 high-class universities and several technology parts, which brings students and expats.

 

From an extremely intense preparation in Russia into calm and quiet life in Finland. I am Alexander – A Russian expat in Finland, and this is my expat story.

I have been living in Helsinki area for more than five years.  During that time, I came through good, bad and quite weird experiences, which I would like to share.

2. Moving from St. Petersburg to Helsinki

living in Helsinki
In order to move from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, I had to do an insane number of things in a short period. I wish I knew how everything would turn out in advance, so I was prepared.
I was sitting at home, slowly exploring career opportunities in Scandinavia, German, and some other countries, when I got a call. A former colleague told that he recommended me to a company from Finland, and I got the job straight away. That was the start.
It was August 2010 I started working for a Finnish company in Russian office and found out that potentially, I can move to an office in Helsinki. It meant, along with the job and studies, I had to arrange my move in 4 months. I needed to do the following:

  • Arranging the transfer to the office in Helsinki and getting employment residence
  • Applying for a University in Finland and arranging the leave from the one in Russia
  • Getting IELTS

 

3. Tips for studying in Finland

If you plan your studies in Finland, you should know that most of the programs have fees if you come outside EU. For this reason, I applied for a job and studies at the same time. In case you have a job and the residence based on employment – you don’t need to pay for studies.
In Russia, there was no Bachelor/Master system when I was leaving. It was a specialist diploma, which is an equivalent to Master’s degree. I have completed 3.5 years of 5.5, which was an equivalent for Bachelor, recognized by Universities of Finland.

 

4. Cost of living in Helsinki, Finland

I will try to give some examples, to showcase the prices:

a) Accommodation

  • One-room apartment in central Helsinki is around 1000 Eur/month
  • Two-room apartment, outside of central area can cost around 800-900 Eur/month
  • Student apartments for long-term are normally two times cheaper

 

b) Food

  • Average price for lunch at lunchtime is around 9-11 Euros
  • A dinner in a restaurant is around 20-40 Euros
  • Kebabs and pizzas, which are everywhere, cost from 6.5 Eur (there are few spots where it cost 5)
  • A beer at a bar costs 4-7 Euros
  • Employers give tickets for lunch deduction, that saves around 30%
  • If you eat lunch out and have rest of the meals at home – you end up paying 450-600 Eur monthly for food.
  • Food in Universities for students is around 2.5-5 Eur for lunch
living in Helsinki

Helsinki Restaurant day

c) Transportation in Helsinki

  • Single ticket for Helsinki costs 2.8 Eur (with travel card)
  • Single ticket for Bigger Helsinki (Espoo, Vantaa) costs 4.5 Eur (with travel card)
  • Ticket fares can be checked here
  • Taxis are ridiculously expensive, 30 minutes ride is about 45 Euro

 

d) Taxes in Finland

  • Taxes vary heavily depending on the income and other factors (I have 1.5% less tax because my work is outside the city and I pay a lot for transport)
  • Average salary is around 3300, it has around 25% tax

 

5. Overcoming difficulties in Helsinki, Finland

There were no difficulties when I first moved in. The services in Finland worked perfectly. It was very easy to get all documents and settled down. If you secured a job and place to stay, everything should go fine.
What actually was complicated – is arranging work and studies at the same time. This was only possible because courses in Universities in Finland are very flexible. You can choose any number of courses, many of which can be done remotely. Although my schedule was very tight, I could choose work hours and timetable for my university depending on my preference.

 

6. Discrimination in Helsinki from the locals? Yes or No?

I wouldn’t say there is any discrimination. Finns are somewhat cold, but it is important to understand that it has nothing personal.  They prefer communicating among themselves and are often a bit shy with foreigners.

 

7. How to overcome culture shock in Helsinki, Finland?

Culture shock, yes. It was due to general calmness and the lack of communication. When I first came to Finland and saw my flatmate, I told: “Hi, I’m Alex, nice meeting you”. He didn’t pay any attention and just passed by. Later, I was told, that it is normal for Finland and you shouldn’t take it personally, and these types of people just don’t want to be disturbed.
As I figured out later, there are so many people like them. There was a moment when this brought me down. The solution was actually simple – avoiding all people who “don’t want to be disturbed”. Now, the majority of people I talk to in Finland are expats and very little Finns.

 

8. Things I love about Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is a modern city and very close to nature. It is a capital, with a lot of things to do, and you can live in a rural area with fast connections to everything. I see it as a very comfortable place to build a home.
I like the houses in Finland, from cute wooden houses to modern architecture. Most of them are designed with large panoramic windows to gather all the sunlight, which is rare and precious in this northern area. Apartments have access to sauna, and new ones have saunas in every flat.

living in Helsinki

Helsinki Old Vallila district with old wooden houses

9. Things I don’t like about Helsinki

There is a lack of decently priced restaurants. I miss Russia where many restaurants are open 24/7 and there are bars working until the last client leave.  In Finland, at night there are only fast food restaurants and most of them are full of drunk people. Bars normally stop letting people in at 3 am.
Also, taxis are expensive and Uber is forbidden, which I HATE!
Another thing, for me personally, this place is too calm. I ended up visiting St. Petersburg pretty often just to feel myself among friendly people and to spend nights out.

 

10. Best things to do in Helsinki, Finland

I like gathering with friends at some cafeterias or some clubs with live music, going to saunas or e nature. It is always a good idea to rent a cottage at a lake.

Recommendations

  • For saunas: Allas Sea Pool and Kultuuri sauna. Both are located centrally and are next to the sea so you can swim.
  • For nature: Nuuksio National Park and Espoo Archipelago.
  • For cafeterias: Café Regatta, Café Ursula
living in Helsinki

Helsinki nature


These are in my opinion, the best places to go as a tourist as well. In addition to things listed previously, I would recommend Ateljee bar, it has the best view onto the city.

Helsinki nature

Katajanokka island with unique architecture is a nice place to visit!

 

11. Making friends in Finland

I think I have to be honest here. Nordic courtiers have some of the lowest scores when it comes to foreigners making friends with locals. I think it is true.
I still cannot figure out how Finns make friends. When I ask, they tell that it takes a long time. Some foreigners told they have spent months at (for example) a basketball team together, to start speaking informally. In general, I guess I am too lazy to wait that long. However, I did make friends with some Finns, who visit me over years.
Most of the friends I made are from University, Couchsurfing, Language exchange and Expat meetings. They are expats or international students.
For language exchange and making friends, I’d recommend Cafe Ligua.

 

12. Places to hang out with friends

As I told before, I like bars with live music. You can try Molly Malones, Santa Fe and some bars in Kallio district. In summer, it is common to rent a cottage together, somewhere next to a lake or to go for picnics.

living in Helsinki Finland

Helsinki Market Square


Also, when we want to avoid drunk people at night, we go to café Bahgdad. The owners are from Iraq, where you can smoke hookah and drink tea. There is no alcohol.

 

13. Expat community in Helsinki

There is the expat community, to find the meetups I recommend checking this FB group. Also, you meet them at Couchsurfing and Language exchange meetups, international students have their own gatherings. I would say that expat community here is really strong.

 

14. A memorable experience in Helsinki, Finland

I had some guests from Russia. I needed to visit my University for a short time, so I took them with me. When passing through the student district we saw a naked man running, and another naked man chasing him and hitting with a wet towel. My friends were shocked, and I did not even pay attraction. If you are out of the sauna, you are allowed to be naked outside.

 

15. Changing the perspective about Helsinki after a period of time

At first, I liked the calm life here. Felt like it is giving me a good rest after all the rush in my home country. Gradually, this calm life started to annoy me. At the moment, I cannot imagine staying in Helsinki for a month, without leaving somewhere more fun.

 

16. Advice and tips for moving/ living in Helsinki

Getting around with a bicycle is easy, even in winter. I ended up with my driving license expired because it had no need.
The worst weather is in November: Windy, rainy, no sun, and people who endlessly complain about it. You should try to escape the city at around this time and come back when everyone starts getting Christmas mood.

 

17. Would you recommend others to live in Helsinki?

Despite all the calmness, this is a good city to live: Good fresh air, clean water, effective public transportation, and a lot of nature around. If that is what you look for, Helsinki is the place for you. I see many expat families with children in Helsinki area.

 

18. What have you learned from living abroad?

If I compare it to Russia, Helsinki is much more international. And since I don’t communicate with locals much, I got to know lots of things from expats. Overall, I think I got a much better picture of what is going on around the world while talking to expats directly.

 

19. More thoughts on Finland

Finland scored high in many ratings in recent years: The best country to live, the best education system, the 5th happiest country in the world, etc. You can read a full list is here.
Cmon, there is no country that is so good in everything. In my opinion, Finland is a nice place for calm life, but not nearly as perfect as it is pictured, especially, if you are an expat.
Don’t let the ratings fool you and don’t put your expectations too high.

If you’d like to know more about Alexander and his travels, he blogs at Engineer on Tour. You can follow his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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Expat Interview: Living in Ho Chi Minh city as an expat

Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, is a major city in Vietnam. Whilst it is not the official capital of the country, that would be Ha Noi, it is considered as the capital of the South. Ho Chi Minh has an abundance of history and is rich in culture. It is the perfect location for anyone wanted to take a city break. Also, it’s perfect for anyone wanting to take a long break as it is in close proximity to Vung Tau Beach resort and the lush nature of Da Lat. In this article, Katie will share what it’s like to live in Ho Chi Minh city as an expat. She will discuss her moving procedure, good and bad things about Ho Chi Minh, places to visit in Ho Chi Minh, cost of living in Saigon and more!

living in ho chi minh city vietnam

 

1. About Katie – Our Guide

My name is Katie Sephton and I work as an English Teacher in Ho Chi Minh City. I have always been in education, whether that has been me as the learner or me as the educator. I grew up in a small town in the UK called Wigan. It was in the UK that I graduated from university with a degree in Child and Youth studies and gained experience working in schools. Apart from teaching, I have a strong passion for travel and hope to travel the whole world one day. I am a huge Wanderluster, so I decided to start the travel blog Untold Wanderlust to share my travels and experiences from across the globe.

 

2. What was the procedure for moving to Ho Chi Minh city?

I first moved to Ho Chi Minh city in July 2016 after securing a job offer of teaching in public schools. At first, I intended to only stay for 1 year, but here I am 1 year later with no intentions of leaving anytime soon. I knew from being 18 years old that I wanted to spend a year abroad teaching; as this is the perfect way to fulfill both my passions of teaching and traveling. The only problem was that I had no idea where I wanted to teach.

 

3. Why did you choose to live in Ho Chi Minh city?

In 2015, I and boyfriend embarked on a month-long trip through Vietnam. It was during this trip that I fell in love with Vietnam, its culture, lush nature and vibrant cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. After returning to the UK to finish my final year of university, I just knew that Vietnam was the place I would spend my year of teaching abroad. It made sense really, I wanted to travel Asia and I knew I already loved Vietnam, so why take the risk and go anywhere else?

 

4. How to prepare to move to Ho Chi Minh city?

Honestly, I didn’t prepare at all. Before I came to Ho Chi Minh I spent 4 months traveling through nearby countries in South East Asia. I literally rocked up to Vietnam with nothing but my40-liter backpack stuffed with scruffy shorts, a few t-shirts and a pair of flip-flops.

As for accommodation and work documents, I was very lucky in that the company I started working for provided accommodation and applied for all relevant work permits and residency cards. However, I did move out of the accommodation provided by the company after the first two months. I moved out due to the matter of a mice infestation and lack of cleanliness. Finding a house or an apartment in Ho Chi Minh city is very easy to do. In fact, I have contacted an agent, viewed an apartment, put down a deposit, signed a contract and moved in all in one day.

working teaching in ho chi minh city

Me with some of my grade 3 students

 

5. Cost of living in Ho Chi Minh city

Generally, the cost of living in Ho Chi Minh is very low compared to European countries. Things like groceries, transport, and activities are very cheap.

a) Groceries, transport, and activities in Saigon

For example, a pineapple costs me 15,000,000 VND / $0.60. As for transport, a 40-minute journey on a motorbike taxi costs me 33,000,000 VND/ $1.50.  Activities like going to the cinema are around 150,000,000 VND/ $6.60 for a movie and a large popcorn and drink. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I have never actually cooked a meal since being here as it is just so cheap to eat out. Generally, for a local Vietnamese meal it is between 30,000 – 50,000 VND/ $1.30 – $2.20.

 

b) Accommodation

However, accommodation costs more than I had originally thought. Prices vary massively, depending on the accommodation set up and style. For a small (30sq foot) but modern one-bedroom apartment prices start from around 12,000,000 VND/ $530. To reduce costs, it is possible to find a room in a shared house for around 4,000,000 VND/ $180.

living in ho chi minh city apartments

c) Weekly expenditure

So aside from accommodation, my weekly expenditure is usually around 1,500,000 VND/ $66 per week. This includes eating out twice per day, snacks, fresh fruit, a night out, 1 western meal and a trip to the cinema or bowling.

 

6. What are the difficulties of living in Saigon?

When I first arrived, I didn’t really experience any difficulties. I have been lucky in that I moved here with my boyfriend so I have always had someone to talk to and never feel lonely. As I stated in the previous question, the company I worked for sorted everything out for me so there was nothing for me to worry about.

However, about 6 months down the line I started to dislike my job. Not the actual teaching aspect of it, but the unfair demand of work hours and lack of social life. This was difficult for me as I had a great bond with the kids but I was becoming physically exhausted of putting in 12 hour days, 6 days a week. In the end, I ended up leaving the job and finding a much better one with much better hours and pay. My advice to anyone thinking of coming to teach in Vietnam is to be sure to read your contacts thoroughly and understand your work hours.

 

7. Did you experience any discrimination in Ho Chi Minh city?

The people of Vietnam are some of the kindest and warm-hearted I have ever come across. I have never personally experienced any discrimination. The local people are very friendly and helpful, despite a language barrier. They also love it when I attempt to speak the language. Just a simple ‘hello, how are you?’ in Vietnamese goes a long way with the locals.

However, there is the slight problem of discrimination when it comes to the cost of accommodation and sometimes other services. It is openly known that foreigners will pay more money for the exact same house/ apartment than a local. Sometimes, you may not even be allowed to rent an apartment because you are not Vietnamese. However, I do think this is more to do with the law as opposed to the person letting.

 

8. How to overcome culture shock in Saigon?

The way of life here is so much different than in the UK and Europe. From the street food to going to work on a motorbike, it is all so different. For some people, I understand that eating street food may be a concern, but most of the time you can see the person cook it in front of you and let me tell you, the food is the best in Asia.

streetfood in vietnam - where to eat in saigon

Street food in Saigon – People cook in front of you!

The language is also very different too. The characters of the alphabet are the same as in the English language, so it may appear easy to read but the language is very tonal and if your pitch is off slightly it can throw your whole sentence into gobbledygook. However, learning the language is fun and a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and interact with locals.

 

9. What do you like about Ho Chi Minh city?

I love Ho Chi Minh! It is a vibrant city that is a great place to live.
There are so many things to see and do. There are also tons and tons of food places and street vendors. It is a foodie’s paradise. The thing that I love the most about the city though is the sense of community. Even though I am a foreigner here and don’t speak the language very well, I get the sense of belonging more than I did in my neighborhood in England. For example, when I sit down at one of my local restaurants, I am greeted with a huge smile and my food autonomically put in front of me, without the need to order.
restaurants in saigon living in ho chi minh city

 

10. Is there anything you don’t like about Ho Chi Minh City?

That is a very difficult question to answer because I love almost everything about it. The only downside is sometimes it can take forever to get somewhere when there is a lot of traffic. I mean there is always lots of motorbikes on the road, which I do like the hustle and bustle of, but during rush hour things can sometimes come to a standstill. This can be particularly frustrating when you just want to get home from a long day at work.

nightlife in saigon - traffic jam in ho chi minh

Saigon at night

11. What are your favorite things to do in Saigon?

My favorite thing to do is to drive around on a bike or sit in a nice bar or coffee shop and people watch.

living in ho chi minh city saigon

Just one of the crazy sights of Saigon – A dog in the driver’s seat

I just love to sit and take in the culture and watch the local people go about their daily life and business. There is always something cool or whacky to see. For example, when I first arrived, I was amazed at the full-blown man-made aquarium that some locals set up at the back of their motorbike. And I kid you not, I once saw a man hauling a huge wardrobe on the back of his bike.

12. Where do you recommend to visit in Ho Chi Minh city?

As a tourist to the city, I fully recommend people to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and War Remnants Museum. The Cu Chi Tunnels are a set of tunnels that the Vietnamese used to hide out in during the war. Whilst on a visit here, you can even see the traps that were set up for the Americans. The War Remnants Museum, whilst harrowing, is very educational and a great way to educate yourself about the effects and devastation of the war. If you have a little more time in the city, take your time to visit the markets, the post office, the Independence Palace and check out Walking Street.

living in Saigon - day trip from ho chi minh city

Heading down into one of the tiny tunnel holes

13. Is it easy to make new friends in Saigon?

It is relatively easy to make new friends as the more you visit a bar or coffee shop the more you will see the same people and instantly become connected. There are also a few expat sites that offer meetups and various classes; which make it easy to find people with similar interests.

where to drink coffee in saigon ho chi minh city

Coffee in Saigon

14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly in Saigon?

I usually hang out with friends from work, who are mostly foreigners. However, I would love to have local friends but many local people my age always seem to be busy with their studies or families. Family in Vietnam is a huge part of their culture and people often do a lot of activities with their family.

 

15. Where is your favorite place in Saigon to meet friends?

Usually a local bar/ food place. There is a great place near my apartment that sells super cheap beer and delicious food. It is the perfect place to hang out with friends, eat, drink and have a laugh. The atmosphere is great as it is lively but not too noisy so we can still chat and play card games.
(Photo caption: Bui Vien at Christmas time – the tourist drinking street)

 

16. A memorable experience in Ho Chi Minh city

I have so many memories but one that is particularly standing out right now is the time myself and a bunch of mates where walking into town for a night out and we came across some local men singing karaoke and drinking beers on the street. They invited us over, we sat, had a few drinks and sang karaoke with them for hours. In the end, we didn’t even make it out.

It was such a fun night interacting with locals and singing street karaoke. This was my first experience of street karaoke and it has since happened again; this is just the Vietnamese culture and hospitality for you.

 

17. Did you change your perspective of Saigon after living here?

Before moving to Vietnam my perspective was always a good one. The local people are so friendly, the culture is incredible and living here would be so fun. My perspective of that has remained the same until this day.

 

18. What are your advice and tips for living in Ho Chi Minh City?

Be open to the way of life and enjoy every minute of it. My main piece of advice is to learn to drive a motorbike too. This one is rich coming from me, as I have still not learned yet, but believe me, I wish I had learned from the start. Learning early on will help combat your fear and you will be able to do so much more and be more independent. Sure! Grab is a great way to get around but it can get a little annoying having to wait sometimes or when you have to rely on someone else to get you somewhere on time.

living in ho chi minh

Learning how to ride a scooter or motorbike is recommended!

 

19. Would you recommend others to live in Ho Chi Minh City?

Absolutely! Ho Chi Minh has so much to offer in terms of culture and activities. The people are incredibly welcoming and the city is very safe. I would totally recommend it to anyone who is thinking of moving here. Just take the plunge and give it a try. It may surprise you like it did me.

 

20. What have you learned from living abroad?

By living abroad, I have learned to become independent and do all the grown-up things like apartment hunting and sorting out hospital appointments and so on. I have also become much more confident in meeting and interacting with new people. It is so easy to do here, as everyone is so friendly. Furthermore, I have learned a second language. Well, kind of. I’m getting there, but Vietnamese is so darn hard to pronounce. This is still very much a learning curve for me.

 

More about Katie

living in vietnam
I’m Katie, an English teacher that has a love for traveling and exploring the world. My passions are to explore exotic destinations, experience once in a lifetime opportunities & to immerse myself in new cultures. I have lived in Vietnam as an English teacher for almost two years where my hunger for travel continues to grow. When I am not teaching I like to explore my surroundings, take lots of pictures and blog about my experiences.
Follow me on Untoldwanderlust, my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


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Expatriates Jeddah: Living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as an expat

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as an expat? In this interview, Noel will discuss the cost of living in Jeddah, good and bad things about living in Jeddah, places to go in Jeddah and more!

 

1. About Jeddah

Jeddah is a port city in Saudi Arabia and is the home of the two most holy places among Muslims, Mecca, and Medina. During the seasons of pilgrimage, Jeddah could be crowded with people from the rest of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world gathers in the city. The temperature could go as high as 45 degrees Celcius during summer and could go as low as 16 during winter. Gender segregation is observed in public places, and women are required to wear a long garb called the abaya.

Here is a video of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


 

2. What was your procedure for moving to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia?

I was born in the Philippine but currently working as a Quality Assurance Engineer at an air-conditioning manufacturing company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Back in 2011, I was applying for an online job posting for South Korea but for some stroke of faith, the manpower recruitment agency placed my application for a job post in Saudi Arabia and on June of the same year, I got hired by the company and was soon dispatched to Jeddah. Everything happened so fast.

saudi expatriates jeddah jobs - life in saudi
When I arrived in the city, I only brought with me in a small suitcase five shirts, two pairs of jeans, a mobile phone, and my old laptop computer. But after staying in Jeddah for more than six years, my room got too cluttered and ten luggage won’t be enough to fit all the stuff I now own.

 

3. Why did you choose to live in Jeddah?

The move to live in Jeddah wasn’t actually a choice, it was purely for work. Due to several negative stereotypes about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I told myself that I would never ever step a foot in this country. However, faith has it that a company called me for work and still thankful for the opportunity to live and get to know this city better.

expatriates jeddah working in saudi arabia

For all I experienced, Jeddah is one of the least conservative cities in Saudi Arabia and with all the expat communities here. Therefore, I would say this country is one of the safest choices when choosing to live in the Middle East. The only thing you can’t have here is the booze. Saudi Arabia has zero tolerance for alcohol.

 

4. How to prepare to move to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The company I was working for actually prepared everything for me. Accommodation, food, and transportation to and from the workplace are all provided. However, I still prefer to cook my own food from time to time.

Being in a city that has a long history of expats, sourcing for ingredients (or least local counterparts) in preparing Filipino food has not been a problem. There are three small stores near our apartment offering various ingredients from different cuisines – Filipino, Indian, Middle Turkish, Egyptian. I’m not sure what else they have, but they have at least the basics I need.

 

5. Cost of living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

a) Accommodation

Prices of accommodations in Jeddah could be different depending on the area. As Jeddah is a multi-national city, specific nationals tend to stay in one area which makes the prices different. But on the average, you could rent a single room with shared bath and kitchen for 10,000 to 15, 000 riyals per year. For flats with two to three bedrooms and private bath and kitchen, the price range is between 18,000 to 24,000 per year.

Accommodations are usually arranged for a contract of at least one year.

 

b) Food

For food, the basics will usually go for 500 riyals per week for one person if you would cook your own meals. But if you’d eat outside, rice and kebab or grilled half chicken would usually start at 15 riyals. Decent burger meals in fast foods start at 18 riyals. International steakhouses start at 80 riyals per set.

 

b) Transportation

If you would take Uber or Careem, it would cost you around 10 riyals for three kilometers distance without traffic.

Premium gasoline costs 0.9 riyals per liter and we don’t pay taxes.

 

c) Internet

ADSL internet starts at 200 riyals per month a 10 MBPS, increase the monthly cost and you could get faster internet speed.

Note: 1 USD is equivalent to 3.75 Saudi Riyals

 

6. What are the difficulties of living in Jeddah?

a) Transportation

Though we have three vehicles taking us to the workplace was provided, the drivers do not usually take us out somewhere else unless we get to bribe them. But, of course, the drivers could not take us anywhere, anytime we want. Which makes general transportation a difficulty.

Jeddah does have a public bus system but you wouldn’t want to try your luck getting into one. It’s not safe, to say the least. The only other option was the local taxis and they charge a lot because no one uses and follows the meters.

Good thing Uber and another local car-sharing company, Careem, became available sometime in 2016 so going anywhere, anytime we want became possible.

 

b) Negative stereotypes

Aside from transportation, the only thing that made my early life in Jeddah difficult was all the negative stereotypes about Saudi Arabia I used to believe in. Things like getting beheaded merely for staring at a woman, the people of Islam being equated to terrorists, getting raped by random men in the streets, things like that.

I never actually wanted to go out of the house unaccompanied.

Good thing I had several friends – locals and from other countries; Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and the non-religious – who all helped me understand and break all the negative stereotypes that had been preventing me to live a full life in the city.

 

7. Did you experience any discrimination in Jeddah?

The locals are actually friendly and are accustomed to all the different nationalities in Jeddah. Some of them actually know a few words from different languages, especially the bad ones, which they often use to cracked the cultural barriers when trying to engage in some of the conversations.

 

8. How to overcome culture shock in Jeddah?

It could actually quite shocking to pass by a group of locals engaging in some conversations as they talk really loud in a sense that they’d sound like they’re arguing. If you’re not familiar with their manner of speaking, these kinds of scenarios would always cause you to flee for your life as they really sound like a sword fight would always ensue at a moment’s notice. But they just talk loudly, nothing to worry about.

 

9. What do you like about Jeddah?

Jeddah is one hot city, the temperature could reach up to 45 degrees Celcius at most. However, having cheap electricity, you can always afford to have your air-conditioning units in full blast, 24 hours a day. Though I don’t necessarily need that.

Also, Jeddah being a coastal city, we have an easy access to the Red Sea where we could just chill out at the beach, or go hunting crabs during weekends.

saudi expatriates jeddah jobs - life in saudi

Floating mosque in Jeddah

 

10. Is there anything that you don’t like about Jeddah?

Being from a tropical country, I missed the occasional rains and the rainforests that Jeddah doesn’t have. Plus the alcohol and pork, which are both illegal in the country.

Also, Jeddah is a bit dirty. You could see plastic bags, pet bottles, and other trash trapped along the roads and loose sands. And if there is one thing that I do not like about the locals, it’s that most of them do not care to clean their mess after having picnics at parks, the beach, and everywhere else. If you would go to parks early in the morning, you’d see mounds of uneaten rice and leftover food laying on the grounds.

And there are no movie houses.

saudi expatriates jeddah

Park in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

11. What are your favorite things to do in Jeddah?

There are several places in Jeddah that the government paved for morning strolls and exercises. If not on the beach, we would usually visit the parks and do several kilometer run or brisk walking until the sun becomes too hot. Then we would have breakfasts at Ikea near the and recover all the calories we have just lost. Afterwards, we would visit the fish market and indulge ourselves with fresh fish for lunch.

expatriates jeddah jobs in jeddah saudi arabia

Fish market

This is how we usually start our weekends before burying ourselves deep in the internet. The internet in Saudi Arabia is relatively fast at 10 to 20 MBPS.

 

12. Where do you recommend to visit in the Jeddah?

If you have a car, I would recommend you visit the Red Sea. Though I must warn you that the beaches at the south are not developed which means you can’t expect any accommodations or any establishments. But they are free. Just bring your food and picnic mats with you if you’d go there. Up north, however, there are private beaches but they could be costly.

Around the city, you could visit the corniche or the seaside when it’s not too hot. There’s also the Fakieh Aquarium Center where you could enjoy viewing the marine life from the Red Sea and watch a dolphin show for an additional fee.

And if malls and shopping is your thing, you can’t have enough of them in Jeddah. Two of the more popular ones are the Mall of Arabia and the Red Sea Mall.

expatriates jeddah

13. Is it easy to make new friends in Jeddah?

From my observation, the expats in Saudi Arabia don’t usually stray from their group. They go in packs but stay with their countrymen. Should you desire to mingle with other nationals, the best way is to get friends with your colleagues.

Football is the only thing that brings different nationals together in Jeddah.

Though recently, several nationals are arranging Couchsurfing meetups. I haven’t been to one so far but I’m looking forward to. I just had to find time as they usually hang out on Thursday nights but I still had to go to work on most Fridays and Saturdays.

 

14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I don’t usually hang out with foreigners either but I have Saudi national friends that I go out for dinner at restaurants or hang out at coffee shops from time to time. I usually go out with fellow Filipinos as we stay in the same apartment and finding the time won’t be a problem. Sometimes, I attend house parties organized by other Filipino communities but I never had a chance to other expat communities.

There was a time that I got invited to a Sudanese wedding but the venue was in Mecca which is only accessible to Muslims.

 

15. Do you interact with any expat communities in Jeddah?

I love hanging out along the corniche on weekend mornings and the Red Sea at nights during long holidays. They are the closest things to nature parks I have easy access to in Jeddah. When having dinner with friends outside, I love strolling and window shopping around the city center for a few hours before finally going home.

 

16. A memorable experience in Jeddah

There are several reckless drivers in the city and it would be normal to see heavily dented cars on the road. The locals have a high tolerance for it, I should say. I’ll never forget such incidents when a car would bump on another on the road and when both drivers come out of their vehicles, they’d just exchange greetings and would talk like nothing happened, completely ignoring the fact that both their cars are now heavily dented if not almost totally wrecked.

 

17. Did you change your perspective about Jeddah after living here?

Living in Jeddah have greatly changed my perspective about the country and the Muslim people in general. As earlier mentioned, Saudi Arabia and Islam have been known outside the country for public lashing and executions, terrorisms, and illegal detentions due to false accusations. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered any of that and if there is one thing I learned about Muslims after living in Jeddah for a while, it is that Muslims are the most kind-hearted and God-fearing people and there is no way a Muslim will favor terrorism.

 

18. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Jeddah?

expatriates jeddah jobs living in jeddah

In case anyone decides to move and live in Jeddah, forget about the booze and pork. Unless you are married, do not mingle with women in public. But don’t think you can’t talk to your female nurses, doctors, and other public persons. If you’re a woman, abide by the dress code.

In short, learn the local customs and you’ll be fine. Everything else, you could do as usual.

 

19. Would you recommend others to live in Jeddah?

I would not strongly recommend people to move in Jeddah as there are still some rules that must be strictly observed such as gender segregation (unless you’re a married couple). Nightlife can be a bit boring and you will have to rely on the internet and your creativity for other forms of entertainment.

living in jeddah as an expat - expatriates jeddah

Camels in Jeddah

However, if you will have an opportunity for work, Jeddah is a livable city if you can afford to lose some of the social norms you grew up with.

 

20. What have you learned from living abroad?

When you live abroad, you get to break a lot of stereotypes about others’ cultures and social norms. As you are the foreigner, you have to learn to assimilate. You don’t have to reform yourself or do as the locals do, but you must learn to accept that cultures and the ways of life are different. Just accept the differences and you’ll be okay.

 

More about Noel

expatriates jeddah

I am Noel Cabacungan and I document my travels on my personal blog, Ten Thousand Strangers. When not busy tinkering with my blog or day-dreaming of being somewhere else for leisure, I take photos of my two six-inch Stormtrooper action figures. Also, I love food. And if there is something that would make me easily assimilated into a place, it would be food. Noodles, in particular, as they are so easy to consume especially with a pair of chopsticks.

Follow Noel on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!


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Expat Interview: Living in Bangkok as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series! In this Interview, Tara will show you what it’s like to live in Bangkok, Thailand as an expat. She will discuss her moving procedure, good and bad things about Bangkok, where to visit in Bangkok, cost of living in Bangkok and more!

 

About Bangkok

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. It is a large coastal city with roughly 14 million people in a 600 square mile area. Similar to other large cities of the world, you can find a diversity of people living throughout the city, as well as restaurants, shopping malls, museums, businesses, etc. Bangkok is a very safe city to live in as a foreigner, and incredibly affordable. Most foreigners come to Thailand to work as Teachers because, in order to stay long-term, you either need to have a work permit or be married to a local to have a marriage visa. From Bangkok, it is extremely easy to travel to other parts of Southeast Asia including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

living in Bangkok - Bangkok expats

Bangkok just after sunset

1. About Tara

Hello! My name is Tara Kenyon and I am from Upstate, New York. I have my Master’s degree in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and my Bachelor’s in Biology and Psychology from Binghamton University. For the past 6 years, I have been living in Thailand. At first, I taught English to high school students at a Government school in Nakhon Sawan and then Science at an International High School in Bangkok. I am the creator of “Nutrition Abroad” where I write recipes from around the world and travel guides for the independent budget traveler. My passions are travel and food (as you could probably guess!) as well as wildlife and conservation. 

 

2. What was your procedure for moving to Bangkok?

I originally moved to Thailand in 2011 but lived in a smaller Thai city. After completing my contract there with a government school, I moved home to NY to complete my Master’s degree. I knew I wanted to go back to Thailand, but this time my husband and I wanted to work in Bangkok at an International high school to make more money. In the summer of 2014 we packed up all of our things once again and this time moved to Bangkok. We had never lived in a big city before, so this was a new experience for us.

moving to Bangkok Thailand

 

3. Why did you choose to live in Bangkok Thailand?

After living in a smaller Thai city I really wanted to experience what it was like to live in one of the biggest cities in the world. Also, as an expat living in Thailand, you can only stay longer than a few months if you have a work permit. Many jobs do not provide a work permit, which is why the majority of people who move to Thailand work as teachers. I wanted to upgrade my job from working in the government school system, and most of the big name International schools are located in Bangkok. Bangkok has everything you could possibly imagine, the same as other big cities, so we were looking for some conveniences of that as well.

 

4. How to prepare to move to Bangkok?

When moving from country to country it is very difficult to carry a lot of luggage with you. I could only bring 2 suitcases, so I had to figure out what was most important. Since I was going to be working as a teacher, I made sure to pack all my professional working clothes first. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find the styles of clothes I wanted for working in Thailand, so I prepared by purchasing those items at home first. I also needed to save a bit of money, because in Thailand you get paid only once per month, which means you have to live a whole month before receiving your first paycheck. You need to make sure you have enough money for rent, deposit, etc.

 

5. Cost of living in Bangkok

It totally depends on your lifestyle. Bangkok can be one of the most affordable cities to live in or just as expensive as New York City.

cost of living in Bangkok - Bangkok apartments

a) Accommodation: Bangkok apartments

You can rent a small studio apartment (not in the center of town) in Bangkok for as little as $300 USD per month. Or you can live directly off of Sukhumvit Road in a 2 bedroom apartment for $1,500 USD per month.

Bangkok apartments - Cost of living in Bangkok

 

b) Food in Bangkok

The same is true for food. You can eat Thai street food for less than $1 USD per dish, or you can eat at the fanciest restaurants for $20 USD per dish.

 

c) Transportation in Bangkok

Transportation is typically always cheap, whether you choose a taxi, motorbike taxi, sky-train, or subway. Tuk Tuk’s tend to charge higher prices.

 

d) Shopping for groceries in Bangkok

You can shop for groceries at the local markets and pay pennies for fresh fruits and vegetables, or you can shop at the Central shopping mall grocery stores and pay US prices.

expat living in Bangkok eat Thai food

Thai Spices

e) Buying clothes in Bangkok

For clothing and accessories, you can shop again at the local markets where shirts cost as little as $3 USD, or you can go to the luxury shopping malls that have Sephora, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Coach for example.

 

f) Paying taxes in Bangkok, Thailand

Depending on the type of job you have, you may or may not have to pay taxes. Typically in the government schools, they will pay the taxes for you. In the International schools, you often have your taxes deducted from your monthly salary, which can be anywhere from 10-20% depending on the amount of your salary. It seems steep, but if you’re paying taxes in Thailand than you don’t have to pay taxes in the United States as well.

 

g) My experience

When I worked at a government school I only made $1,000 USD per month but I was able to save $500 USD per month. I ate cheap Thai food, shopped at the markets, and lived in a studio apartment. When I moved to work in the International schools I made roughly $3,000 USD per month, and I saved at least $2,000 USD per month. I lived a more expensive lifestyle, had a 2 bedroom apartment, enjoyed fancier restaurants and traveled to more exotic places.

What to eat in Bangkok Thailand

Thailand is famous for it’s Thai Noodle Soup

6. What are the difficulties of living in Bangkok?

Thai language is an incredibly difficult language. It consists of 5 tones, which means the same word spoken in 5 different ways means 5 different vocabularies. As a foreigner, you will most likely never say the tones correctly unless you take classes, so it can be very difficult to communicate with the Thai people. When I first moved there, I needed to rent an apartment, a motorbike, figure out where to do laundry, etc., and all of this is quite hard without speaking the language. Unless you’re in a tourist area, most Thai’s do not speak any English. I slowly learned the words for the things I needed doing and spent a lot of time studying. I learned how to read the Thai script, which was instrumental when trying to order food from a restaurant or read the signs on the streets.

 

7. Did you experience any discrimination in Bangkok?

The Thai people will stare at foreigners often and you will hear them say ‘farang’ (Thai word for French, but now is used as a blanket term for all foreigners) around you all the time. They don’t mean it in a derogatory way, so don’t feel offended. You might get annoyed after hearing it so many times, but you have to remember that you are a foreigner living in their country. There are times when a Thai person will come up and take a picture with you, sometimes without asking, and this is another thing you have to get used to. For the most part, Thai people are kind and helpful and enjoy engaging in conversation with foreigners. If you learn to say just a few words in Thai, that will really impress them (you might even get better discounts on the market!)

Sometimes, although it’s very rare, foreigners will be charged higher prices than Thai’s at small restaurants or for transportation services. There is not much that you can do about it, and since Thailand is such an affordable country, these differences are so small that it’s better to just pay it and move on.

 

8. How to overcome culture shock in Bangkok?

I didn’t have too much culture shock because I had traveled to South East Asia previously (the Philippines). I knew a little bit about how they lived, and I made sure to ask friends who had been there previously for advice. Also, I did have to get used to the squat toilets, and the fact that not everywhere is as clean as I was used to (especially restaurants). Those adjustments come with time, and now they don’t bother me anymore.

 

9. What do you like about Bangkok?

Bangkok is one of the largest cities in the world, and just like other large cities, it has everything you could possibly imagine. Restaurants, shopping, bars, temples,  museums, you name it! I love how cheap the transportation in the city is. You can take a taxi from one end of the city to the other for less than $10. Bangkok has both an underground subway and an above ground sky-train. The transportation is very efficient and you can find your way around the entire city quite easily. Tuk Tuks and motorcycle taxis can be found everywhere as well. You can spend one day in Bangkok and practically move around the entire city.

Bangkok lifestyle living in Bangkok

Riding through the city in a Tuk Tuk

10. Is there anything that you don’t like about Bangkok?

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the number of people. If you’re walking around the major tourist areas of Bangkok there were will thousands of people around you. It’s nice to find a quieter area of the city where you can roam the streets without too much chaos.

living in Bangkok - cost of living in Bangkok

Busy streets are a common sight in Bangkok

I also don’t like the scams. I haven’t been victim to any scams myself since I know what to look out for, but I hear about them all the time. As a newcomer to the city, make sure to read up on the scams you might encounter so you know how to look out for them. For example, a huge scam in Bangkok involves the Tuk Tuk drivers. They might offer you a discounted rate to go visit a temple, but you are unaware that they plan to take you to a suit shop, or a jewelry store, and try and urge you to buy those products. Don’t ever listen to a Tuk Tuk (or taxi) driver who tells you that a temple is closed but that they can take you to one that is open. This is a lie of course and they should be avoided.

 

11. What are your favorite things to do in Bangkok?

a) Shopping in Bangkok

My favorite thing about Bangkok is the shopping. I love the shopping malls and the cheap markets. Chatuchak market, also known as JJ, is one of the biggest markets in the world. There isn’t an item you can think of that can’t be found there. I love strolling up and down the aisles and seeing what I can find. Always offer 50% less than the asking price! They will always ask for more money, especially to foreigners.

There are enormous shopping malls all throughout the city but the majority of them are located in the Sukhumvit Road area. Malls such as Siam Paragon, Central Plaza, MBK, and Platinum are incredible and like heaven to those who love to shop.

b) Eating in Bangkok

I also love to eat in the city (of course!). Not only cheap Thai street food but all the different ethnic restaurants that can be found there. Bangkok has a Little India, a Little Korea, a Middle Eastern Town, Chinatown, etc. You can find food ranging from Ethiopian to Italian to Mexican.

living in Bangkok - what to eat in Bangkok: Khao Soi

Khao Soi, a Thai specialty

12. Where do you recommend to visit in the Bangkok?

a) Temples in Bangkok

At some point, you will definitely have to visit the famous temples such as Wat Pho and Wat Arun along the riverside. You can visit the Grand Palace or go to see the Emerald Buddha. Be aware that these all are extremely touristy things to do, so there will always be hundreds of other people there.

 

b) Bangkok Nightlife

For those who love nightlife, the Khao San Road area is where most of the backpackers hang out. If you love nightlife but want to stay away from the backpacker crowd, then the areas of Thong Lor or Ekkamai (off Sukhumvit Road) are the best options for you. Here you will find hipster and artsy bars with unique cocktails.

Sky bars are also popular places to visit in the city. My favorite is Above 11, on Sukhumvit Soi 11, which offers a chill vibe with spectacular views of the city’s skyline. They serve a combination of French and Peruvian food. There are dozens of sky bars around Bangkok to choose from.

 

c) Day trips from Bangkok

Since transportation is so affordable and easy to find, you can also venture outside the city to see excellent attractions. An hour north of the city is Ayutthaya where you will find ancient ruins, and an hour west of the city you can visit the famous floating market of Damneon Saduak. A few hours south and you’ll reach the pristine beaches on the islands of Koh Chang or Koh Samet.

 

13. Is it easy to make new friends in Bangkok?

It’s easy to make new friends if you are social! Usually, if you’re working in the school system there will be other foreigners from around the world that you’ll get to know and befriend. You can also go out to bars or join classes such as Yoga to get to know other people. You can’t be shy from starting a conversation with someone, just go for it and they are most likely in the same situation as you and looking for friends.

 

14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly in Bangkok?

I hang out with a combination of locals and foreigners. I have a lot of foreign friends from working in the school system as well as locals who work there too. You can meet more locals by going out to bars and restaurants as well and starting conversations.

 

15. Where is your favorite place in Bangkok to meet friends?

Thai people love to eat and drink! So bars and restaurants are the best places to hang out. Meals are shared ‘family style’, meaning that a bunch of random dishes is ordered and shared among the whole group. It is not common to order your own dish and not share with the others. Coffee is huge too, and every corner has a coffee shop, so this is another popular place to hang out.

 

16. Do you interact with any expat communities in Bangkok?

No, I never interacted with any expat communities. Usually, in most schools and areas of town, there are so many expats living that you don’t have to seek any out. However, there are many expat communities that you can be a part of if you wish. There are groups for getting together at different bars or restaurants. My friend was a new mother and joined a group of new mothers in the city. They would meet at cafes or take the children to the park.

 

17. A memorable experience in Bangkok

My co-worker was a former journalist who had lived in Bangkok for 20 years. He suggested we go have some drinks at this old US/Thai Military base from the 70’s which had been converted into a bar. We weren’t sure what to expect but we agreed and followed him there.

We arrived at this large compound and he began banging on the door. It was raining outside and nothing was happening, no one was coming. He looked around and was like ‘Oh! Oops, wrong place’. He walked next door and banged again on a large metal door. A minute later we were buzzed inside. There were Thai soldiers with large guns all around us. We walked down this skinny hallway where we had to sign our names in. We were all a little sketched out and unsure about the whole experience, so we signed fake names. Just when I was beginning to think the whole situation was a bad idea, we entered the bar. It turned out to be just your typical VFW bar. They had craft beers, pool tables, and American sports on the T.V. It ended up being a great night.

 

18. Did you change your perspective of Bangkok after living here?

Definitely. I always thought I would hate living in a large city, and Bangkok is one of the largest in the world. But there is always so much to do and see (and so much food to eat!) that it’s impossible not to love it. However, I would still prefer to live near to a big city but not inside of it. I need a little more peace and quiet.

expat living in Bangkok

Sunset from Jack’s Bar in Bangkok

19. Advice and tips for moving to Bangkok or living in Bangkok

Read and plan ahead. Know the general costs of things that you will need so you can come prepared with enough money. Understand the culture and customs of the people so you don’t offend anyone and start off on the wrong foot. Go with the flow! Things are going to go wrong of course, but you will adjust and you’ll remember it as a great learning experience.

 

20. Would you recommend to live in Bangkok?

Should people live in Bangkok? Absolutely. Bangkok will always be my favorite city in the world. In my mi, d there is no other country like Thailand, and it’s a place everyone should experience at least for a short time in their life. The way of life for the Thai people is so fascinating, and unlike the way of life in America. I believe the only way for you to grow as a person is to step outside your comfort zone every now and then. Moving out of your own country to experience another is a growth experience. You will never look at your own country the same way again.

 

21. What have you learned from living abroad?

I have learned patience, tolerance, and understanding just to name a few. I learned that people live differently all over the world and that their customs are not necessarily better or worse than your own, just different. You find yourself feeling more like a citizen of the world instead of a citizen of just your own country. In the US, people tend to live very actively and stressed out lives. I know because I used to live that way. Constantly worried about money and taxes and bills.

In Thailand, I didn’t have to worry about those things. I had enough money to be extremely comfortable, and those worries disappeared. Life is a lot slower in Thailand. It causes you to reflect on your own life. This doesn’t mean that life in Thailand was perfect and I didn’t have any problems. But I hope I can carry the lessons I learned from living in Thailand with me throughout the rest of my life.

 

More about Tara Kenyon

moving to Bangkok

Originally from Upstate NY, I have been living in Thailand on and off for the past 6 years as a teacher. Living in Thailand has inspired my passion for travel as well as cuisine, which helped me begin my website Nutrition Abroad. Here I write about recipes from around the world and provide travel guides and tips for the independent budget traveler. Currently, I am taking a break from teaching, and traveling the world with my husband, blogging about my experiences as I go!

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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living in Bangkok Thailand

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Expat Interview: Living in Gwangju, Korea as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series! In this Interview, Lianne will show you what it’s like to live in Gwangju, Korea as an expat. She will discuss her moving procedure, good and bad things about Gwangju, where to visit in Gwangju, cost of living in Gwangju and more!

 

About Gwangju, Korea

Gwangju, Korea’s sixth largest city, is located in the southwest province of the country, about a three-hour bus ride from Seoul. Though the city doesn’t draw as many tourists as Seoul and Busan, Gwangju is a pleasant place to live that isn’t too big of a city nor is it rural. There is truly something for everyone – a thriving art scene, a foodie’s paradise, mountains and valleys for outdoor lovers, a thriving international community, sports, and an interesting history. Gwangju’s location makes it easy to take day trips to traditional temples, islands, beaches, various national parks, the Damyang bamboo forest, and the Boseong green tea fields. Also known as the City of Light, Gwangju is known to have one of the friendliest expat communities with clubs and events that make it easy to make friends.

Living in Gwangju Korea as an expat

1. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Lianne. I was born in Korea but adopted to an American family when I was a baby.  In 2012, I moved to Korea to experience life abroad, but also to reunite and foster the relationship with my birth family. I taught English in Gwangju for three years and have since lived in Australia and Japan as well as backpacked through Asia for the past two years after leaving Korea.

 

2. What was your moving procedure?

I first visited the motherland, Korea, after graduating university in 2010. During my month there, I met many English teachers and learned about the world of the expat life, and it sparked my interest to go overseas to teach before going to graduate school. It wasn’t until August 2012 that I actually moved to Korea. The process took about 9 months including getting a TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), applying to EPIK (English Program in Korea), and sorting out the visa and endless paperwork.

 

3. Why did you choose to live in Gwangju?

With EPIK, you don’t get to choose where you live. I was randomly placed there and boy, was I lucky!

Visit Gwangju and see Cherry Blossoms

4. How did you prepare to move to Gwangju?

There wasn’t a lot of information about Gwangju online, so I would recommend the following for those moving there: Check out the Gwangju Blog, read some editions of Gwangju News, and join the Gwangju Facebook group to get a better feel for the incredible community.

You may want to pack your favorite kinds of products that may be difficult to find such as deodorant. Also depending on the person, bring enough clothes/shoes because sizes are small in Korea. There’s always Uniqlo and H&M, though.

I also highly recommend learning as much Korean as you can before coming, or at least learning how to read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. There isn’t a lot of English in Gwangju, so it makes a huge difference to know the basics.

 

Overcoming difficulties

5. How to deal with difficulties while living in Gwangju, Korea?

EPIK walked us through the process. After orientation, we were taken to our apartments with our Korean co-teachers. It was a painless process.

The day I moved after I moved in, though, there was a typhoon! I luckily lived near a bunch of supermarkets and two steps away from a convenience store, so I was able to get necessities in case of a power outage. I obviously survived and it didn’t damage Gwangju badly.

 

6. Did you experience discrimination in Korea?

I have a special situation in that I am a foreigner, but I am 100% Korean by blood. I didn’t have a Korean upbringing, so I couldn’t speak the language. There were pros and cons of “blending in”. I never got stared at, but I was constantly asked questions about where I’m from, disbelief that I’m American, and ask why I don’t speak Korean and why my parents didn’t teach me. Having the same conversation and explaining myself over and over become burdensome.

Blatant discrimination won’t be met on a daily basis, but it does exist as Korea is a homogeneous country and with that comes xenophobia. Though rare, there are certain clubs that don’t allow non-Koreans in. We were all required to get HIV tests. Some people may be afraid to talk to you because they are not confident in English. Others might not want to sit next to you on the bus. Again, these are not common. Most Koreans are friendly and will go out of their way to help you. They are curious about your country and may want to speak to you to practice English. Kids will often say “hello, thank you!” and any other English phrases they know.

 

7. How to overcome culture shock in Korea?

It wasn’t a giant culture shock for me since I’ve been to Korea twice before, but there were always little differences that I would notice. One difference that I didn’t like was the trash piles and litter. It got to the point that my boyfriend and I decided to stop complaining and start doing. We put on gloves and went out to pick up trash in our neighborhood. People would stare at us and others thanked us. This turned into a social media campaign called #CleanGwangju, which is still active today.

 

About the city

8. What do you like about Gwangju?

It’s balanced well. Gwangju isn’t overwhelming like Seoul, but it’s still a big enough city to always have something to discover. A national park is within the city and there are plenty of hiking trails and streams where you can go swimming. The beach is a bus ride away and the countryside surrounding the city is stunning. The international community is tight-knit and super supportive. There’s always something fun to do! Most important of all, Gwangju has the absolute best food in the country!

visiting temple while living in Gwangju, Korea

 

9. Is there anything that you don’t like about Gwangju?

Can’t think of many things besides summers are horribly humid. That’s countrywide. There isn’t as much available of international products as Seoul, but that wasn’t a problem for me.

 

10. What are your favorite things to do in Gwangju?

Hiking at Mt. Mudeungsan, going to the vegetarian buffet afterwards, riding my bike down the river path, meeting up with friends for drinks and Noraebang (karaoke rooms) downtown, going for a run at Chonnam University, having rooftop potlucks at friends’ houses, attending festivals, and the Daein Art Night market.

 

11. Where do you recommend to visit in the Gwangju?

Mudeung Mountain, Sajik Park Observatory, Asia Culture Complex, Chosun University campus, Yangong market, Daeing Night Art market, Chonnam University backgate, downtown Gwangju.

 

12. What is the cost of living in Gwangju?

Life in Korea is cheap compared to western countries, but more expensive than say, Southeast Asia.

  • Accommodation: A simple apartment can range from $250-400 a month with utilities being $20-60 depending on the season. A night in a guesthouse can range from $20-50.
  • Transportation: Bus is the best way to get around. Each bus ride costs about $1 USD. The subway is the same, but there is only one line. Taxis are cheap. You can get across the city with less than $15, but buckle your seatbelt and hold on!
  • Food: You can get a quick kimbap lunch for $1.50 or more substantial meals for $4-6. Dinner meals can be $10 at a casual barbecue restaurant or $15-30 at fancier places. A great thing about Korean restaurants is unlimited side dishes! If you opt for western food, it will be more expensive. Beers and soju are usually around $3 a bottle. Coffee can range from $3-6. There are plenty of adorable coffee shops!
  • Groceries: Food is about as much as you would pay in the U.S. Fruit can be outrageously expensive, so stick to what’s in season. It’s best to buy produce at the street vendors or traditional market. Home Plus (owned by Tesco) is a good place to get other groceries and carries a bigger variety of western products.

 

Building relationships

13. Is it easy to make friends in Gwangju, Korea?

Yes, it is so easy to make friends! I met people through my intake with EPIK, but once in Gwangju, I made the greatest friends. You can meet people by going to events run by the Gwangju International Center, volunteering, taking Korean classes, and going to the foreigner bars/restaurants.

 

14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I hung out with mostly foreigners, but I did have a handful of Korean friends. It was more difficult to become good friends with Koreans due to the language barrier and just the concept of friendship is different in Korea. In America, you can meet a person a few times and call that person a friend, but in Korea, you should have a deeper relationship before you call someone a friend.

Making friends while living in Gwangju

 

15. Where is your favorite place in Gwangju to hang out with friends?

We hung out at each others’ apartments doing dinner parties, hiking on the weekends, and eating out downtown.

 

16. Do you interact with any expat communities in Gwangju?

Yes, I was active with the Gwangju International Center, rock climbing community, and running community.

 

Reflection

17. A memorable experience in Gwangju, Korea

A great memory was organizing a huge clothing swap event for a group I started, Gwangju Freecycle. Hundreds of people attended all day and there must have been thousands of items filling up the huge room at the Gwangju International Center. So many perfectly good items went to new homes for free instead of going to the landfill. Everyone was grateful and the day was full of positivity.

 

18. Did you change your perspective about Gwangju after living here for awhile?

I loved it for the first two years, but the third year, I was starting to become jaded. Many of my friends left and I didn’t want to bother making new friends knowing that I was going to leave soon. The city becomes kind of small and a bit boring after a while.

 

19. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Gwangju?

Become involved in the community! There are clubs for everything – books, sports, writing, performance, art, knitting, chess, web design, etc. And if your passion doesn’t have a club, start one! People are supportive and open to new ideas.

 

20. Would you recommend others to live in Gwangju?

Absolutely! It’s a friendly and easy place to live. There are a lot of resources for expats!

 

21. What have you learned from living abroad?

Oh, this could be a whole post on itself! I’ll keep it simple. I learned how much I don’t need in order to be happy. I became a minimalist and own the bare minimum. I learned so much about how the world views my home country; that has really put things into perspective. I became more grateful for my upbringing – Having an American passport and being a native English speaker makes me far more privileged than most people in the world and I want to use this privilege to do good. Last, I learned that no matter what cross-cultural differences there are, we have more similarities. We are all human and just want to thrive in this world.

Hiking in Mudeung Mountain while I live in Gwangju Korea

 

More about Lianne

The beautiful view of Gwangju Korea

The view of Gwangju Korea

Lianne is a Korean-American adoptee who has been traveling and living abroad since 2010. She’s taught English in Korea, Australia, and Japan, and has backpacked all throughout Asia via CouchSurfing, HelpX, and housesitting. She is a simple girl who loves the little things in life: mainly leaves and cats.

Folow Lianne on her website, Instagram & Facebook

 


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Expat Interview: Living in Macau as an expat

In this Expat Interview, Carlo will show you what it’s like to live in Macau as an expat. You can understand the city better through the eyes of an expat, and get to know important information such as living cost in Macau, good and bad things about Macau, and how to prepare to move to here, etc.. All tips and advice about Expat life in Macau are here for you.

 

Macau – The Las Vegas of Asia

Macau is called the “Las Vegas of Asia” and the gambling capital in Asia.  It is situated south of China and west of Hong Kong.  Macau is a tiny city but it has a lot to offer.  It is home to some of the biggest resort hotels and the largest casinos in the world.  It is a metropolitan city but it is also rich with historical places having been colonized by Portugal for a couple of years.  This multi-faceted city has welcomed millions of tourists every year and is continually proving travelers with once in a lifetime experience.

Let’s get to know about Carlo – our interviewee today 🙂

Carlo’s Background

Hi, my name is Carlo Madrid and I am currently working in Macau as a hotelier.  Prior to this job, I didn’t have an experience in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  I graduated from a university in the Philippines with Bachelor in Political Science Major in International Relations.  If you have asked me 12 years ago if I can see myself working in a hotel, my answer would be a big no.  But, here I am now, a hotelier for more than ten years. 

 

1. What was your moving procedure?

I graduated from college in 2006 and right after graduation I found a job as Customer Service Representative at one of the pioneer call center businesses in the Philippines.  I worked at that call center for almost 16 months mostly on a graveyard shift.  It wasn’t an easy job and I was already feeling stressed out and already looking for some other jobs when I heard about Macau.  I know that there is a place called Macau, but I didn’t know where it was on the map.  It was my aunt who told me to try looking for a job, so I tendered my resignation abruptly and took the plane to the city I would later call my second home.

Living in Macau

 

2. Why did you choose to live in Macau?

It wasn’t really a choice, I just wanted to move out and abandon my previous job and Macau just came at the right moment.  I had almost zero knowledge about the city so it was sure a risky move.

 

3. How did you prepare to move to Macau?

To be honest, there wasn’t much of a preparation.  I’ve just read a couple of articles about Macau, the jobs, the life, and the culture.  I was still young during the move and I wasn’t really prepared to be an expat.  It helped that I have a relative who supported my transition.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Macau?

Discrimination will always be there whether at work, restaurants, or any other establishment.  You just have to learn how to stand up and not to let yourself be bullied.  I am lucky that I have Chinese friends who treat me like everybody else.  But for promotion for work?  That’s entirely a different matter.  The government does prioritize locals, so promotions are hard to come by.

 

5. How to overcome culture shock in Macau?

I think it is not a matter of overcoming it but embracing it.  I decided to be an expat, so I prepared myself that it would be different from what I grew up with.

 

6. How to deal with difficulties during living in Macau?

There are lots of difficulties during the adjustment period.  First, language barrier.  Macau speaks predominantly Chinese and ten years ago, English was just beginning to be spoken by locals.  It was hard to communicate so I learned to master the “sign language” and studied basic Cantonese to be able to adapt.  Second, the food and culture.  Macao has a very different culture compared to the Philippines so I needed to adjust and learn how to respect it which helped my understanding of other’s traditions and norms.  Third, though I was lucky to have had found the job after only a week of searching, it wasn’t the job I really wanted to do.  A means of helping my family motivated me to do it. 

 

About the city

7. What do you like about Macau?

I love Macau because life here is simple:  No traffic, less pollution, no intermittent internet connection, and most importantly, it is only a two-hour plane ride away from my home country, the Philippines.  I also love Macao, because it has accepted me and many other expatriates who are working to provide a better life for our families back home.  Because of our jobs in Macao, some of us were able to send our brothers, sisters, and children to school.  Some of us were able to build a house and invest in properties.  All of us has been provided with means to have food on our table every day. Because of that, I’ll forever be grateful to this city that I love.  It is a bonus that Hong Kong is just a ferry away.  A fast getaway to this neighboring city has never been easier.

8. Is there anything that you don’t like about Macau?

Humidity, I guess.  If it’s summer it is not only hot but also very humid.  Other than that, can’t think of any.  Like what I said, life here is simple.

 

9. What are your favorite things to do in Macau?

Before, my daily routine was work-sleep-work, but I realized that there was so much to explore the city I once didn’t know.  Finding the hidden gems of Macau is my favorite thing to do.  Exploring every corner of it is what has occupied my free time for the past years so as finding to new places to eat.

Beautiful Macau mountain. Living in Macau as an expat

Beautiful nature in Macau

 

10. Where would you recommend to visit in Macau?

Macau is not all about casinos and big hotels.  It is historically rich and there are many UNESCO world heritage sites here.  I would recommend tourists to visit all of it.

Living in Macau Cathedral

11. Cost of living in Macau

Cost of living here is pretty expensive compared to some other countries in Asia.  House rent is ridiculously high and dining out can be costly, too.

  • Accommodation:  My wife and I are currently renting a studio-type apartment with single bedroom and it costs, HKD4500 a month.  That is around USD570.  Renting a flat with two or three bedrooms can cost double.  You’ll save if you will rent a bed space or a room.
  • Food:  Dining out every day is not possible to a regular hotelier, so we cook.
  • Transportation:  Taxis and public buses are available 24 hours.  For hotel staffs, complimentary shuttles are provided by companies, which is great.
  • Tax:  With our salary range, we are exempted to pay tax. 

cost of living

In general, cost of living may be a little bit expensive, but the salary is quite higher than other countries so you’ll be able to live comfortably.  If you know how to budget, you’ll be able to travel, to save money, and to buy things you wanted.

 

Building Relationships

12. Is it easy to make new friends in Macau?

My first set of friends are people from my own country.  When I started working I got to meet and befriended people from other nationalities.  I can’t believe I have friends now who are from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Nepal, India, and Russia.  Having friends from other nationalities have helped me be acceptable to other people’s culture, tradition, and beliefs.

 

13. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I hang out with locals and foreigners alike.  Though I spent most days with Filipinos, I also go out with other friends sometimes.

 

14. Where is your favorite place in Macau to hang out with friends?

Our favorite is to go to buffet restaurants because we all love to eat.  We are also regulars on bars with happy hour.  Eating while having a drink and meaningful conversation is what keeps us from being homesick. 

 

Reflection

15. A memorable experience in Macau

It was just a recent event but I’m sure it’ s something I won’t easily forget.  Macau is not used to calamities, so when typhoon Hato came, it wasn’t prepared.  It was the first time that the electricity, water, and internet supply were cut.  It flooded so badly that many small businesses were forced to close down.  It was really bad and has affected a lot of people.  The only consolation is that Macau has subsequently recuperated.

 

16. Did you change your perspective about Macau after living here?

I didn’t have a preconceived idea of Macau when I decided to move, so there weren’t so many perspectives to change.  If there was, I think it’s my perception of other people.  I never thought I will be able to develop friendships with other nationalities, but I was wrong.  I realized that we are all the same.  Just different mother tongue, but basically the same.

 

17. What are your advice and tips for moving and living in Macau?

My tip is to not overthink it.  If you feel like moving, go for it.  Anywhere has its pros and cons.  You just have to learn how to deal with it.  There is something you are unfamiliar with?  Get yourself informed and well versed.  Have something you’re scared of?  Overcome it.  Moving to a new place can be scary, that is true.  But it is scarier if you succumbed to your fright and let go of your dreams.  Make the first step and soon you’ll walk and then you’ll run. 

 

18. Would you recommend others to live in Macau?

Certainly.  I have come to love Macau as my second home.  I’ve been here for ten years, and I would have never survived if Macau didn’t love me or all expatriates back.  It has been good to me and I’m pretty sure it’ll be good for future expats who wish to work and live here.

 

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

Living abroad has helped me grow as a person.  It has helped me be independent and responsible for taking good care of myself and doing what is expected of me.  I’ve learned how to be appreciative of people.  Most importantly, I’ve learned how to be acceptable from other people from other nationalities.  I realized that racism has no place here on earth if we want to have a better world.  Respect, Thoughtfulness, and Acceptance are the most important values we all should be possessed. 

 

20. More thoughts on working in Macau

To work in any hotels in Macau is not only for those who have a background in Hotel and Restaurant Management or Tourism.  As long as you are flexible, willing to learn, responsible, and have a drive for success, you can be a hotelier.  Macau is good for expats because they do not discriminate.  No matter your age, race, color, sexual orientation, or religious belief, everyone is accepted.

 

More about Carlo

Carlo Madrid is an opinionated man and he’s aware that he can be annoying sometimes.  He loves to travel, read books, cook, and be lazy.  When he’s not traveling with his wife or hiking a mountain, he can be seen sitting on their sofa either watching or reading.  Writing is also a hobby of his, though mediocre at best, and is half (the other half is his wife) of the people behind the blog Young OFW.

Expat life in Macau

Don’t forget to follow Carlo on Instagram & Twitter


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What’s it like to live in Paris as an expat?

Have you ever dreamed of living in Paris and wonder how it would be? In this Expat Interview, Gabriela will show you what it’s like to live in Paris as an expat. You can understand the city better from an expat’s viewpoint, and get to know important information such as living cost, good and bad things about Paris, and how to prepare to move to Paris, etc.. All tips and advice about Expat life in Paris are here for you ?

 

Paris – the city of love

Paris is the capital of France and it’s mainly known as the city of love or even better as the city of lights. Its location is amazing as you can travel within Europe in less than 2 hours anywhere, but what is more important to know about Paris is the fact that its surface offers you great options for museums, parks and also the opportunity to have amazing walks. It’s a great place to study, especially if you are interested in fashion or finance and of course, this will come with the perks of finding easily a job while enjoying a glass of wine.

A post shared by Gabriela (@iamfoodietraveler) on

 

Let’s get to know a bit about Gabriela – our interviewee today 🙂

Gabriela’s Background

My name is Gabriela, and I work in an asset management company in the Netherlands as data business analyst. Also, I have started blogging at the beginning of 2017 because I wanted to share my stories worldwide.

I moved to Paris in August 2014 and planned immediately to stuff myself with as much cheese and wine as possible. This is how I find myself living in Paris, but I couldn’t live there for more than a year, even though there are things that I liked about the city and I came back a few times after moving out, just for weekend visits, Paris is not really meant to host me.

 

1. What was your moving procedure?

My Parisian story started when I decided to try my luck for a scholarship at one of the most prestige Business School in Paris. I always dreamt of studying abroad but never thought that will be possible in my case. But in June 2014, I received the answer that I will finally be able to fulfill my dream. I have to say that my transition to move to Paris it was very smooth and this is for sure thanks to the administration from my school, which arranged everything.

 

2. Why did you choose to live in Paris?

Honestly, there were a lot of factors that made me take the decision. I have applied to multiple schools, but for me, Paris resonates with high education. I was easily impressed how the financial hub, La Defence looks like and the school was located in the Grande Arche, which really took the decision for me.

Later on, after leaving the city, I noticed how easy I get someone’s attention when I mention that I used to live and study for a year in Paris.

Live in Paris as an expat

Paris – The city of love

 

3. How did you prepare to move to Paris?

The worse part of moving to Paris, or any city in France for the matter, is to find a place to live. The landlords have so much power that basically you will feel like having an interview. In my case it was very easy, I didn’t experience the process as hard as it can actually be since the school offers to be the “Guarantor” for any student as long as you pay your fees in due time. Also, they help with opening the bank account, settling in the city and getting your Pass Navigo, the transportation card.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Paris?

I am a Romanian, which means a lot in Paris, from being called a gypsy to listening to a French school colleague telling me how “our government paid your people 500 EUR in the past and a plane ticket to go back to Romania”!

This was very demotivating for me to learn the language and honestly, I think that even though French people don’t like to be called names, they tend to do it to others. The word expat doesn’t exist for them, but rather immigrant, to make a very big distinction and to create a gap between you and them.

 

5. How to deal with culture shock in Paris?

Before relocating to Paris, I lived in Miami and London, so this wasn’t my first time as an expat, but I have to admit my shock was more related to seeing how dirty the city is. I was shocked when I was in the metro and everyone was smelling like yesterday’s clothes at 8 am. I was shocked when I said to a salesman that I am a Romanian and he just turned his back on me and never paid attention to me.

How did I overcome all these? I moved out of the country as soon as I finished my studies.

bad things about living in Paris

 

6. How to overcome difficulties during living in Paris?

The hard part is not speaking French. I used to take classes when I was little, but since then I never practiced, so I only remember the grammar rules and my vocabulary just vanished. The school offered free French classes, and if you go to Paris for any other reason, the government also offers free classes in the evening, so that is also an option.

Nobody will speak to you in English and if by any chance they do understand “a little bit” they will most likely speak still in French, just because they do not feel comfortable and “you should just learn our language”

 

About Paris, France

7. What do you like about Paris?

Paris is an amazing place to be in, especially if you are young without too many life problems.

The architecture is impressive, you can walk for weeks and you will not be bored and of course, you can still avoid the touristic traps and enjoy every second of your day. The bike lanes are pretty well organized, it is no Copenhagen, but still, if you want to use this mean of transportation, for sure it will be great, just watch out for crazy drivers.

The cheese, baguette and of course the wine, put them all into a bag and just go to a park and have a picnic on the grass. The last, but not least, there is always an event somewhere someday in Paris, you just need to look for it.

Wine and food in Paris

 

8. Is there anything that you don’t like about Paris?

Of course, besides of what I mentioned above, the city is also crowded and dangerous. What actually bothers me personally is the constant attacks on the city, which created a constant fear that you can just see walking around the city. It’s a bit sad and depressing and seeing the policemen with big guns, this feeling doesn’t really go away, but rather becomes even stronger.

 

9. What are your favorite things to do in Paris?

Definitely the picnics and walks around the famous Jardins. My favorite spot is Buttes-Chaumont park, with the beautiful cascade and great hills for a run (if you are up to it). Another great place is the Pere Lachaise cemetery, where among others Jim Morrison is buried, it’s really an architectural masterpiece.

 

10. Where would you recommend to visit in Paris?

Where to visit in Paris

For great views over the city, the balloon ride in Andre Citron park is a must, especially that it’s not very well known so not that crowded. There are a lot of other spots with a great view, like Printemps and Galleries Lafayette terraces, Sacre Coeur and Arc Triumph, but since these are so crowded I advise you to be patient.

 

11. Cost of living in Paris

  • Rent is, of course, the priciest expense, it’s almost impossible to find a nice place below 800EUR, so be prepared since Paris is the definition of an expensive city. In general, I managed to keep my budget under 1000 EUR per month,
  • transportation (Navigo card around 80 EUR per month and with a 50% discount as a student)
  • food (most of my groceries were from cheap supermarket Lidl, where you could get fruits, veggies and dairy products for a week with around 50 EUR)
  • going out, this depends on each one of us, but I definitively took into consideration that most museums have a free day on first Sunday of the month.

 

Building Relationships

12. Is it easy to make new friends in Paris?

For a student, making friends it’s always easy since you have a group to hang out with. As a worker, the first step is to go out with your colleagues or to enroll for different activities like improving French, or there are always events for wine tasting, gather together in the park for picnics and there you can definitely meet new people.

 

13. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

In my case, it was actually with both, since most of the expat colleagues from school already knew Parisians, which made my transition in the city very smoother.

If you don’t have this opportunity, just go out to a bar and start a random conversation with expats or tourists.

Locals are not as friendly as you would expect, especially if you approach them in English, so “parlez vous anglais? should be the first line of introduction.

 

14. Where is your favorite place in Paris to hang out with friends?

My favorite brunch place is PaperBoy near Republique metro station. Definitely, for a warm sunny day, I will give up going there and just take a bottle of white wine, with some cheese, fruits, and a baguette and hang out in any park.

 

Reflection

15. A memorable experience that you have in Paris

This is a memorable experience but also an advice for the people looking to live or travel to Paris.

A day trip to the Loire Valley to see the chateaux by bus in the spring was a wonderful experience similar to some Wes Anderson’s movies. I had a small picnic in the woods right next to Chateau Chenonceau under the warm spring sun and went up the iconic staircase in Chateau Chambord. I would encourage people to stay more and maybe book a night in Tours, a beautiful city nearby.

 

16. Did you change your perspective about Paris after living here?

I have visited Paris 2 years before moving there, and my initial thoughts were that I would never like to live there, but then again, you don’t get a French scholarship easily. Every single good or bad thought I had about Paris, while visiting, proved to be right while living there for a year, hence I could say that my perspective about the city didn’t change, but about the Parisian dream and the bohemian way of life, yes, definitely it’s a different thing.

A post shared by Gabriela (@iamfoodietraveler) on

17. What are your advice and tips for moving and living in Paris?

Learn basic French before moving to Paris it’s my first advice, otherwise your life it will be much harder. If this step is complete, go out every day and enjoy the “Je ne said quoi” lifestyle Parisians have, because this is a unique way of living, which you will never find in other cities in the world.

 

18. Would you recommend others to live in Paris?

I am still conflicted about what opinion to share about Paris in general. I loved my life there, with the great food and amazing places to see, but what I liked the most is that if someone would cancel on me within 5 minutes of a meeting, I would find some activities immediately. Parisians like to have a good time, hence, I never had a boring day.

On the other hand, the bureaucracy and the dirt are few of the things that will make me say a definitive NO to Paris.

In the end, it’s up to each one of us to decide what are the pros and cons we can handle.

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

Paris wasn’t my first foreign city, so I was prepared to fight any racism or language barrier. What I can say for sure is that Paris changed the perspective I have about food, rather than just eat because I am hungry, I learned how to enjoy the food, to get the most out of each taste.

 

20. More thoughts on Paris

Do you know in which city in the world you can have a glass of wine for lunch? Do you know where you can go and have a picnic in the park any time of the year with great wine, amazing cheese, and warm baguette? Au Petit Bonheur la chance, you guessed correctly – this is Paris! This magical city is known as the city of love, but love for whom? Probably for the city itself!

There is something so magical in the air that every spot is special.  The city with je ne sais quoi, is not always a good idea, but most of the time it is, therefore, if anyone has the opportunity to live the Parisian dream for a few weeks/months, just do it.

Living in Paris and eating in Paris

People will never bring this up publicly unless you do it first and even so, they will never ever agree 100% that Paris is not always a good idea. The city is great, don’t get me wrong, but it has also some downsides, but in the end, if you are craving for great wine, amazing cheese, and perfect pastries, Paris is your city.

 

More about Gabriela

Gabriela is a longtime expat and traveler, food lover and a constant day-dreamer who is very keen to share her stories about traveling and exploring our beautiful planet. She is the voice behind “I am Foodie Traveler”, a collection of stories and impressions from her wanderings around the world.

Relatively new the blogosphere, but very passionate about traveling and storytelling, she wants to inspire others to travel and to see the world with their own eyes. You can get to read her work at I am Foodie Traveler or get in touch with her on Facebook or Instagram and watch her adventures on YouTube.


Read more interviews in this Expat Interview series:

living in Paris tips

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Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on Discover what it's like to live in Paris as an expat. Read cost of living in Paris, good and bad things about Paris, things to do in Paris and more here! You'll definitely want to save this in your Paris Board to read later! #paris #france #expat #visitparis #parismonamour #parisjetaime #expatlife #livingabroad #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger #parisian #francemylove #france_focus_on


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Expat Interview: Living in Madrid, Spain as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series. In this article, Kerry will show you what it’s like to live in Madrid, Spain as an expat. You can understand the city better from an expat’s viewpoint, and get to know important information such as living cost, good and bad things about Madrid, and how to prepare to move to Madrid, etc.. All tips and advice about Expat life in Madrid are here for you 🙂

 

Where is Madrid?

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and is located right in the center of the country. The city is known for having an abundance of art and culture. Some of the most famous sites include its art museums, Royal Palace, and Plaza Mayor. Madrid is certainly a gorgeous city, and extremely expat-friendly.

living in Madrid

Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

Firstly, let’s get to know a bit about Kerry 🙂

Kerry’s Background

My name is Kerry Ireland, and I am the blogger behind “The Petite Wanderer”! I absolutely fell in love with traveling after studying abroad in Madrid. I am a communications PR/advertising major at Loyola University Maryland, with a minor in studio art. I am an artist, and paint landscapes and portraits with oils and acrylics. I also love to sing, and I play the flute! I guess you could say I have a lot of passions.

I lived in Madrid for six months, starting in early January 2017.  Prior to moving here, I had only been out of the country once, to the Turks and Caicos with my mom after I graduated high school.

 

1.Why did you choose to live in Madrid?

Primarily, I chose to study abroad in Madrid because I wanted to focus on studying the Spanish language. My mom is fluent, and I grew up listening to her speak it. It has always fascinated me, and since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to learn to speak Spanish one day. I thought living in Spain would be a great opportunity to become immersed in the language and really get a strong base for it.

 

2. How did you prepare for moving to Madrid?

Since I studied abroad through my school, my abroad advisor pretty much babied us before departure, going over all of the essential things we needed to do. So through my university, everything was taken care of. Knowing that I would only be living in Madrid short term, I just brought one large suitcase filled with my basic and essential belongings. Of course, I did some major shopping when I got there!

suitcase

Difficulties & Challenges

3. How did you overcome difficulties?

The second I got off the plane, an overwhelming feeling of sadness rolled over me. I had never been away from home and my family for more than a month or so, and knowing that I would be gone for half a year kind of hit me all at once. I had spent the previous year preparing for the move, but the reality of it did not hit me until after I actually arrived at the Madrid Bajaras airport.

I remember holding in tears as I got into the taxi, on the way to the hotel I stayed at for the first few nights. Luckily my amazing boyfriend traveled over with me and helped me get settled in the first week I was there. Once we arrived at the hotel, I immediately broke down and started sobbing. It was definitely one of the most overwhelming experiences I faced while living abroad! After a few days, I started to settle in, and things got a lot better.

 

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Madrid?

Nope! Spaniards are generally lovely, kind, and accepting people. One thing that I found funny was their fascination with American politics. Once a Spaniard noticed I was American, they would ask “What do you think of Trump?!” I found it pretty funny that that is what Spaniards think of now when they think of America.

 

5. How to deal with culture shock in Madrid?

The first week I was there, I experienced pretty major culture shock. Like I said earlier, I had only been out of the country once prior, and I stayed in a touristy resort town. I was surrounded by a new language, new culture, and new people. It probably took around two weeks to a month to really become accustomed to my new surroundings. Then it just felt like home.

 

About the city

6. What do you like about Madrid?

I adore Madrid! It is such a lively city and there are so many things to do. Every day is an adventure in this city. Being so huge, there was always something new to try, new places to explore, and more people to meet. I loved that you can just hop on a metro, and end up somewhere awesome within minutes.

Live in Madrid

Beautiful Madrid at night – Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

7. Is there anything that you don’t like about Madrid?

This is a difficult question. I’d say the one thing I really didn’t like was that a majority of Madrid’s population seemed to be cigarette smokers. The city air often reeked of cigarette smoke, especially in crowded areas. The smoke bothers me, and if I am around it too long, I start to feel sick. So that’s what I didn’t really like about Madrid. The air quality of the city is also pretty bad and is known for being polluted and smoggy.

 

8. What are your favorite things to do in Madrid?

I loved exploring the city! Madrid is huge, and there was always a new place to check out. I really liked visiting the “hipster” neighborhood, Malasana, which had amazing cafes, bars, and vintage stores. It’s a really cool area. I also loved getting “lost” and exploring the city’s central neighborhoods! I found some awesome restaurants and side stores by doing this.

 

9. Where do you recommend to visit in the Madrid?

The Royal Palace is simply gorgeous! It is filled with period décor and original paintings. It is so elegant- one of the most beautiful palaces I have been to. I also would recommend visiting the Egyptian temple that was gifted to Madrid, Templo de Debod, at sunset. It is so magical. I would also go to all of Madrid’s famous art museums, such as El Prado, Reina Sofia, and the Sorolla museum. These museums are home to some of the most famous paintings in the world!

Expat life in Madrid live in Madrid

The Royal Palace in Madrid – Photo courtesy of Kerry

10. Cost of living in Madrid, Spain

Madrid is affordable to live in.

Grocery

Groceries are especially cheap. To put into perspective, I bought handmade bread for 50 cents, and a wine bottle was around 2 or 3 euros!

Transportation

Madrid has AMAZING public transportation. The most popular being the metro, which will take you all over the city. You can also take commuter trains and busses. I had a student public transportation card, which cost me 20 euros/month for unlimited transportation. The adult pass is 50 euros/month.

Apartments

Apartments In Madrid are affordable, and most of my friends were paying around 500 euro rent. Apartments usually come furnished, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bed.

 

Building relationships

11. Is it easy to make new friends in Madrid?

I made so many friends in Madrid! I’ve noticed that Spaniards tend to be very social and accepting, so it is very easy to meet people and make friends. I recommend attending Intercambio sessions, as this is a great way to meet people.

Many bars and cafes in Madrid host Intercambio nights weekly, where you will partner up with a Spaniard and speak in English for a half hour, and then in Spanish for a half hour. There are also a lot of paid and free courses you can take (Spanish cooking, dancing, art, and more!) Again, this is another fantastic way to meet people.

 

12. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

I hung out with a combination of both. I made some amazing Spanish friends, who I now call my “Familia Española”. Because I was part of an Erasmus program, I also made friends with a lot of other abroad students. So I had friends from literally all over the world!

 

13. Where is your favorite place in Madrid to meet friends?

I loved going out to the bars, grabbing a coffee at some of the local cafes, and just hanging around the Sol/Gran Via/Plaza Mayor areas with friends! My Spanish friends would show me some local favorite places for food/drinks, so it was really nice getting to know the city through the eyes of a local.

live in Madrid

Plaza Mayor in Madrid – Photo courtesy of Kerry

 

14. Expat Community in Madrid

By “expat”, I did interact with other exchange students and travelers from outside the country.

 

Reflection

15. Can you tell us a memory that you have in Madrid?

One of the memories that stands out to me was watching the sunset at Templo de Debod with my boyfriend. It was during my first week in Madrid, and one of the last days he was there with me, the city was still so new, and seeing all the sites and culture for the first time was so exhilarating. We loved watching the sun set behind the Royal Palace. It was very romantic!

 

16. Did you change your perspective about the city after living here for a while?

I guess the initial excitement of being in a new place diminished after a while. But after living in Madrid for about a month, the city totally felt like home to me.

 

17. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Madrid?

I would say brush up on your Spanish a little before going. While a lot of Madrileños do speak English, many (especially from older generations) don’t know a lick of English. You will also be surrounded by Spanish, so it is a really good idea to practice some of the basics before moving.

 

18. Would you recommend others to live in Madrid?

Absolutely! Madrid is a super safe city and filled with so much culture and activities. There is always something to do, and it is super easy to travel around Europe from there. Prices are decent, so it caters to people on a budget. The people are lovely, and you will make great, lifelong friends!

 

19. What have you learned from living abroad?

I learned that I have a huge passion for culture, and connecting with people from all over the world. While I lived in Madrid, I was able to travel all over Europe, so I met tons of people from literally all over the world. I learned that I love to travel, and I want to continue doing it for the rest of my life.

Furthermore, I learned to become independent. I was essentially living on my own, in a foreign country, so it basically forced me to become super independent, quickly.

Also, I learned to not to get anxious about little things. In fact, I like to say that living abroad “cured” my anxiety. It gave me more of a “big picture” point of view, and I realized what really mattered to me, and stopped focusing on small, unimportant stuff that would previously give me anxiety.

 

20. Do you want to add anything?

Thank you for interviewing me! I really do recommend living in Madrid for foreigners. It is an ultra-safe city, filled with life. Just do your research before making the move, and most importantly, focus on enjoying your time there, rather than being homesick!

 

More about Kerry

Kerry Ireland is the voice behind the travel blog, The Petite Wanderer. After studying abroad in Madrid for a semester, she fell in love with traveling. Through her blog, she hopes to inspire anyone out there who wants to peruse a life of wanderlust! Aside from blogging and traveling, Kerry loves creating music, cuddling with her cat, and painting. She hopes to educate and inspire her readers to get out there and see how incredible this world is.

Kerry

Don’t forget to follow her on all social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.


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Expat Interview: Living in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat

Welcome to Expat Interview Series. In this interview, you will get to know what’s it like to live in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat. You can see Reutlingen from an expat’s viewpoint. Also, this interview covers the cost of living, wanderlust inspiration, tips, and advice for living in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat.

 

Where is Reutlingen?

Reutlingen is a city in the southwest of Germany and about 45-minutes by train to the state capital Stuttgart. This is a small city in Germany with the number of the population around 100,000 people. The city is traditionally famous for its textile industry and today is a home for Bosch, who is the biggest recruiter in the region. The biggest university in the city, Reutlingen University (in German: Hochschule Reutlingen) offers many programs for international students so each semester there will hundreds of international students coming to the city.

Reutlingen city

Tuan’s background

I am currently a senior in the major of biomedical engineering in Vietnam. Besides my study, I love reading books, hanging out with my friends and traveling. Last spring I spent a semester in Reutlingen, Germany as an exchange student. My exchange semester in Germany has brought me to another 4 countries, namely Netherland, France, Switzerland, and Italy. I love meeting people in everywhere I go and getting to know about the culture as well its people.

 

1. Why did you choose to live in Reutlingen?

In my third year, I decided to have some abroad experiences, so I applied for the exchange program at my university. After the admission and scholarship selection, I started my summer semester at Reutlingen University, Germany. I love Germany so I want to experience the life and study in this country. My university has only one partner in Germany, so I applied for it without any hesitation.

Reutlingen in the morning

2. How did you prepare to move to Reutlingen?

This was the first time I lived in a foreign country so there were many kinds of stuff I had to prepare beforehand. I had to do research about the city I live, some cultural aspects and of course learn the local language (i.e. German). Finding a place to live was my most concern as the dormitory is not owned by the university and the rooms are extremely limited. Hence, I had to apply early to make sure I can have a room in a dormitory, otherwise finding houses in the neighborhood is really difficult and also much expensive.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

3. How to overcome difficulties in Reutlingen?

I think the most difficult thing is the language because I live in a small city and not many people can speak English well. There are things like banking and residence registration which you can better go through procedure if you know basic German. As I learn some German beforehand, I find it somehow not difficult but I strongly suggest to know German to avoid misunderstanding and at least you know what you are reading before signing any documents.

Street in Reutlingen

4. Did you experience any discrimination in Reutlingen?

Not at all. The people are really friendly and helpful. There was a time when I had a problem with online banking and the lady who worked with me at the bank, though speaks little English, tried her best to explain me the procedure and helped me get through that as fast as possible, which I really appreciated.

 

About Reutlingen

5. What do you like about Reutlingen?

This is a peaceful city with beautiful landscapes and architectures.

 

6. Is there anything that you don’t like about Reutlingen?

The city is a bit boring in the evening, especially after 8 pm when all the businesses close. Also, there are not many options for entertainment.

 

7. What are your favorite things to do in Reutlingen?

Jogging and climbing the mountains, also shopping in the city center.

 

8. Where do you recommend to visit in Reutlingen?

One can come to the city center (German: Stadtmitte) for shopping and see houses with middle-aged architecture or explore the narrowest street in the world, for which the city is famous.

Reutlingen city centerThis is the city center (Stadtmitte) with different shops and restaurants around.

9. Cost of living in Reutlingen

If you rent a house, the cost will be around 300 euros a month or cheaper if you live in a dormitory. For other expenses, I believe 200 euros a month will be sufficient. In total, having at least 500 euros a month will secure your stay in Reutlingen.

 

Building relationships

10. Is it easy to make new friends in Reutlingen?

Yes, of course. As I have said earlier, the people are super nice but you have to be the one who breaks the ice. If you keep waiting for them to talk to you, there’s no chance you can make friends with people there. Moreover, as the German love beer, so having a beer together in a beer garden, for example, can bring people easily together.

 

11. Where are your favorite spots in Reutlingen to hang out with friends?

As we are students, the bars are super cool places to chit and chat. There’s a student bar on the school campus, which is quite cheap compared to the others and it often holds many parties throughout the semester.

 

12. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Reutlingen?

Be well prepared by researching carefully about the city. There can be practices like no plastic bags used in stores and trash separation that does not exist in your country or different types of renting houses you have to understand before looking for places to live. Another tip would be to learn basic German beforehand as there will be people who cannot speak English and you will have trouble working with them.

Trash separation in Reutlingen

Trash separation in Reutlingen, usually there will be bins for bioproducts (Bio), paper (Papier) and the rest (Restmuell).

13. Would you recommend others to live in Reutlingen?

The city is an excellent choice for students but if you are job-seeker, I suggest moving to a bigger city.

 

14. What have you learned from living abroad?

Being more independent and always showing up on time. The German is strict about punctuality.

Thank you for being a part of this interview 🙂


Read more interviews here:

I love everywhere but not Prague: Expat life in Prague

Expat life in Beppu, Oita

Living abroad in San Diego, CA

Living on the Marshall Islands

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I love so many places BUT NOT Prague: Expat Life in Prague

Welcome to Expat Interview Series! This week, Caitlin will show you what it’s like to live in Prague, the Czech Republic as an expat. You can learn useful information such as the cost of living, how to move to Prague, where to visit in Prague, good and bad things about Prague and more! Also, you can know Caitlin’s real experience and understand why Caitlin didn’t like to live in Prague.

 

Where is Prague?

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic (now known as Czechia). It is centrally located in Europe and is only a short journey away from many other wonderful spots. It’s a beautiful city which straddles the Vltava river. Prague is home to some of Europe’s finest architecture including what is widely considered to be the most beautiful bridge in Europe, Charles Bridge. The cobblestone streets provide a beautiful backdrop for any tourist but when choosing it as a place to live, whether to work or to study, there is more to it that you must take into consideration.

Beautiful Charles Bridge

Expat Interview: Live in Prague as an expat

Firstly, let’s know a little bit about Caitlin!

Caitlin’s Background

My name is Caitlin. Originally, I’m from Vermont, USA but I’ve been on the road for about 6 years now. I teach English as a second language and while I enjoy the job I am trying to move into writing full time. Also, I love all animals and horseback ride as often as I can. I like hiking, yoga, photography, and cats.

1. Why did you choose to live in Prague?

I ended up living in Prague solely for the visa. It was never really on my radar as a place to live. I’d been previously as a tourist but that was it.

2. What was your moving procedure?

I moved to Prague in July of last year, 2016. I chose it based on visas. It’s the first move I made that wasn’t completely independent as I had a boyfriend along for the ride. He’s Spanish and I’m American so finding a country we could both work and live in legally was a challenge. The Czech Republic turned out to be our answer. He didn’t need a visa and I could get the trade license which is fairly straightforward and doesn’t need sponsorship.

 

3. How did you prepare to move to Prague?

Unlike some other moves, I’ve made I had a job almost entirely lined up before I arrived. I actually applied and interviewed for a few jobs before I arrived and I was offered one in Liberec, which is a much smaller city in the north of the Czech Republic.

Because of its size, we decided it was better to stick with Prague so my boyfriend would have better work prospects as he doesn’t speak Czech so he was relying on the tourist industry for work. We arranged an Airbnb for our first few nights and planned to apartment hunt as soon as we arrived. I had my final interview arranged for the first day or two I was in town as did my boyfriend. We prepared well. I also had started the process on my visa and was in touch with the woman (her contact is something I’d be happy to share one-on-one with someone) who would help. I was already well into my 90-day tourist visa so I needed to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

 

Difficulties & Challenges

4. How to deal with culture shock in Prague, Czech Republic?

I don’t think it’s culture shock as the culture really isn’t that different than America. But I did struggle with some things, namely, the cold, dark, wet winters. Brrr.

5. Did you experience any discrimination in Prague?

I don’t know if I’d call it discrimination but definite unfriendliness. The Czechs are not known for their warmth and it’s sadly very evident just how cool they are once you start living there. I remember walking into a little tabac with my boyfriend, looking to buy a bus ticket, and before we’d opened our mouths, the woman behind the counter just looked at us and shouted ‘no’. It was hard to have this happen in our first days when we were trying to fall in love with our new home.

 

6. How to overcome difficulties in Prague?

Yes. I learned quickly that the English teaching world in Prague was very different than what I’d previously been exposed to in Sydney and Vietnam. It was oversaturated and most of the teachers were underqualified with only online TEFL and no teaching experience to speak of. So, I realized that I was going to end up being overworked and underpaid. In the first few weeks, I was there, I quickly started applying for more interviews. I cut down on the hours I was working for James Cook, the company I’d originally interviewed with, and started advertising for private students through a few online sites.

 

About Prague

7. What do you like about Prague?

I liked its architecture. There’s no doubt that Prague is a beautiful city. It has the astronomical clock, old town square, the castle, churches here and there. It did a wonderful job of staying intact throughout Europe’s dreadful history and all these amazing structures are still here for us to see today.

8. Is there anything that you don’t like about Prague?

The cold! And the fact that wine is sooooo expensive. I gained a few pounds from all the beer I drank! Actually, it’s a pretty expensive city to live in. It’s cheap if you’re coming with a dollar or a euro, but to live the cost is really high, as I’ve outlined below.

 

9. What are your favorite things to do in Prague?

Actually, my favorite thing to do in Prague is to escape it. I love the outskirts. There’s a little village to the south, which is technically still in Prague, called Radotin. It’s along the train line, just 8 minutes from the city, and it’s adorable. The river runs right through it, it’s calm, and green, and quiet. It’s a wonderful spot to escape the noise and business of city life. I love to grab a beer and sit by the river down there, especially when the sun is shining.

10. Where do you recommend to visit in Prague?

I had a friend visit earlier this year and we did a few of the standard things, old town, and the castle but I also took her to Letna park which is great for a warm day and a picnic but has stunning views all year long. My second go-to spot is Namesti Miru which is just a small square but it has an absolutely beautiful church which I love staring at both inside and out.

 

Cost of living in Prague, Czech Republic

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s really expensive. The currency is Crowns but I’m going to convert everything to USD to make it easier to understand.

My salary was between $10 and $16/hour

  • A liter of beer at a bar costs $2
  • A really bad bottle of wine at Tesco costs $3
  • A dinner out for two at a normal restaurant costs $12
  • A new pair of pants costs $10
  • Internet costs $20/month
  • Basic cell phone bill costs $16/month

Rent of a one bedroom apartment costs $630/month (this is the kicker-the market in Prague is very much a landlord’s market, the prices are exorbitant and nearly impossible to survive with this example, what my boyfriend and I paid, is very low.)

A years transport ticket good for tram, train, metro, and bus costs $165 (this is the best deal in town!)

 

Building relationships

11. Is it easy to make new friends in Prague?

Actually, I struggled so much with this in Prague. I have to admit that I was spoiled in some of my previous homes with a readily available group of super fabulous people the moment I arrived and that just didn’t happen to me in Prague.

Part of the reason was that my job was not in one place, I ran from office to office all day long teaching lessons at different locations. So, I didn’t get to know my ‘colleagues’ at all really. Often when you move to a new place work is your first port of call for new drinking buddies. I had to look elsewhere. I actually went on a number of friend dates. People I connected with on Facebook. Some clicked, others didn’t. I struggled and it was definitely difficult not to have a great support system in the city. I was lucky that I had my boyfriend but I wonder if that was also the reason I didn’t end up with lots of friends, I didn’t really need them, I had him.  

12. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?

Foreigners. I met up with a few Czech women and some of them were o.k. but none of them were interested in follow-ups (was it me!?) and the ones that were, were very difficult to get close to.

13. Where is your favorite place in Prague to hang out?

Prague just changed its smoking laws this spring, so last winter all the bars and restaurants were smoky and awful. I hate that. So, I chose cafes. There’s a little chain called Cross Café. I drink chai lattes and theirs are my favorite! Plus, they leave you alone for as long as you want to stay there. And no smoking!

Now that there’s no smoking I’d rediscover more bars and restaurants where I wouldn’t end up reeking of smoke!

 

14. Do you interact with any expat communities in Prague?

I went to a few events. I can’t remember exactly which organizations they were through but all were different things I found on Facebook just searching the events on there. Nothing really clicked through and I felt a bit awkward going to them, in all honesty.

 

Reflection

15. An unforgettable memory!

It’s hard to pick out one memory but so many of my memories revolve around the trams. They are just everywhere. We lived above a tram line (DON’T!) so we heard them running all night long. The trams are an awesome form of transportation when they work well but if they’re stuck, you’re screwed!

 

16. Did you change your perspective about Prague after living here for awhile?

Yes. Sadly, it went from positive to negative. I do feel so bad about it but people have reminded me that it’s o.k. not to like a place. I LOVE SO MANY PLACES IN THIS WORLD! But after living there, Prague simple isn’t one of them.

 

17. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Prague?

Do your research. I think if you make a good salary and you’re not struggling day to day you’ll enjoy it much more than I did. So, look into the cost of everything as compared to your salary. Will you have enough to enjoy your life? Also, be ready for the winter. It’s not only cold but dark and damp. Also, skiing or other outdoor sports will take some getting to, and the wilderness is not at your doorstep. If you’re content to sit inside and drink beer for a good chunk of the year, then you’ll be happy in Prague. If not, I can’t recommend it.

 

 

18. What have you learned from living abroad?

I’ve learned so much from living abroad. Before Prague, I lived in Ireland, Morocco, Vietnam, and Australia. Everywhere has its good and bad. I’ve learned to be open-minded and accepting. Also, I’ve learned to embrace differences but, especially in Prague, I’ve learned that we don’t all have to belong everywhere. I’ve learned heaps about myself really, and I’ve learned how much I’m capable of more than anything else and I think that’s an invaluable life lesson.

 

More about Caitlin

Caitlin

Caitlin grew up in the countryside of Vermont, USA before heading off to college in Maryland. Since then she’s earned her CELTA to teach English as a second language and with that has lived and worked in Ireland, Morocco, Vietnam, Australia and The Czech Republic. She became an expat in 2011 and has never looked back. Caitlin loves riding horses and is a lover of all animals. She loves photography, though she’s still learning. She loves hiking, yoga, the countryside and the city, knitting, and writing, which she does on her blog at Countryjumperblog 

Follow Caitlin on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

 

Read more interviews in this Expat Interview series:

Expat life in Beppu, Japan.

Expat life on the Marshall Islands

Expat life in San Diego, CA

Thank you for reading

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Discover what it's like to live in Prague as an expat. Cost of living, good and bad things about Prague, things to do in Prague and more! You'll definitely want to save this in your Expat Board to read later! #prague #expat #expatlife #livingabroad #praguetoday #travelprague #expatliving #expatblog #expatblogger


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