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1. What was your first, truly expat experience when you realised the difference between cultures?
First arriving in London, this was probably the most obvious when catching public transport. Hearing so many languages being spoken around me without a word of English really opened me up to just how many nationalities live here. I heard someone refer to London as the capital of the world recently, which seems a fitting description.
2. Do you think it is important for an expat to observe local customs?
Definitely. No matter where you are in the world, it's important to respect the local culture and make the effort whether you are moving to a new country, or traveling. It is accepting your new surroundings and acknowledging that things are different to what you are used to at home, but that is also part of the beauty about travel. You can immerse yourself in new cultures, listen to different languages and experience other customs.
3. What is your favourite thing(s) about your new home?
I love the liveliness and variety. It doesn't matter what night of the week it is, there is always something happening in London. Restaurants, bars, new pop-up initiatives, shows, events You name it, it's happening somewhere.
It is also incredible to walk amongst so much history and beautiful architecture. Every day it blows me away.
4. What is your least favourite thing(s) about your new home?
At times the amount of people can be tiring. London has double the population of New Zealand. Moving to a city that has double your entire home country's population is a big adjustment.
Getting used to booking everything so far in advance can also be a challenge. Everything books up and sells out so quickly.
5. What were your reasons for moving?
My main reason was to travel. So many destinations are on the doorstep from London. New Zealand is very far away in that respect. Also for a change and to be open to new opportunities.
6. If you were to do the move again what would you change?
I don't think there is anything I would change. I had visited London before, so luckily knew what to expect before arriving. The culture shock also wasn't so bad because English is the native language and New Zealand and England are reasonably similar.
The best thing I did do from home before leaving was to sign up with a Company that helped me arrange my bank accounts and tax number before I arrived. This was a huge help and saved a lot of time and stress. There was also an arrival orientation with other new expats, so it was great to meet others in the same boat straight away. The Company is very active in arranging social events, which was great while finding my feet.
7. If you could bring one thing, such as; food, a tradition or creature comfort, from your home
country to your new home what would it be?
It would be nice to have family and friends closer. One of the hardest things being on the other side of the world is missing out on special occasions.
8. What has been your best experience yet in your new home?
Getting a job with one of my dream Companies within a month of arriving was very exciting. I have also loved meeting loads of new people and getting to experience so many new things. You can't be bored in London.
9. What has been the worst experience in your new home?
My first London winter was pretty tough as I do love the sun, but I just have to remember that it wasn't the weather that brought me here.
10. What is the strangest thing to you about your new home?
Not knowing the whole city like the back of my hand as I did back home. Obviously everything is new, so it's a process of finding a new dentist, doctor, hairdresser, favourite cafes and restaurants, right down to what stores sell clothing in your style. There is so much you take for granted at home, so there is a lot of learning involved with relocating.
11. How do you keep in contact with loved ones?
Technology makes it so easy to keep in regular contact these days with Skype calls, texts, emails and Facebook. It makes the world feel smaller and helps family feel like they're closer. I also started blogging so friends and family can keep up to date.
12. What advice would you give to someone getting ready to make the move to a new country?
Familiarise yourself with local customs and do some research to find out what is required for your arrival in terms of tenancy references, setting up a bank account and tax number etc. There will usually be an active expat community, so attend events and meet others who will have valuable advice about settling in to your new home they've all been where you are, so take what you can from their experience. Also start networking before you even arrive. With sites like LinkedIn and Twitter you can connect with similar people online and start building valuable connections.
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