Recently I was asked to answer a few expat interview questions for First Contact, a company that makes life a lot easier for expats. In exchange, they offered a great deal for my readers who want to use their financial services.
Describe the moment when you decided to leave your country and become an expat.
At home we call it getting ‘itchy feet’. For the non-Australasians, it’s not a bad case of athlete’s foot, but the need for travel. It’s such a common thing that we have a name for it – it’s your ‘OE’ or Overseas Experience. My personal eureka moment was half way through an Architecture degree when I decided that I didn’t want to design new buildings, but work on conserving older buildings which we don’t have too many of in New Zealand. I also decided that I needed to see more of the world, and with England having so many old buildings and such easy access to Europe, it was an obvious choice for me.
What have you enjoyed the most so far?
The travelling, both in the UK and Europe. It’s hard to say no to a flight to Italian sunshine for the same cost as a 3 course dinner, or a 2 hour train to France.
The food over here has been a huge surprise as England is pretty infamous for bad grub, but since I have been here we have seen a huge growth and improvement because of the Foodie movement; improving both flavour and quality.
Can you think of any funny or embarrassing moments you’ve experienced as an expat?
There are just so many. The worst offender is probably the amount of times I referred to my pants in the office without realising over here it means underpants – we call trousers ‘pants’ at home.
What habits/customs did you find strange to adopt/accept?
Queuing and tsking someone who doesn’t join the queue, but not actually calling them out; and not complaining about food that isn’t right at a restaurant. I’ve worked in hospitality so I understand that things can go wrong with your food, but there is a way you can speak with the server.
What tips or advice can you give to other expats or those thinking about moving abroad?
Have patience, all the expats I know stay either 6 months or 12 years – the first few months can be hard. If money is tight when you first get here, peruse websites like Skint London or Londonist, network with the people around you (but realise that English people can appear to be slightly gruff but I have found them to be pretty shy.) Sending money home as a savings method is a great idea too – that way the temptations to buy those for those Louboutins is a little harder to give into as you have to wait for it to come back!
One of the many strings to their the First Contact bow, is as a Forex money transfer company who specialise in helping expats transfer funds around the world.
What they didn’t know, was that in real life I’ve been a customer of theirs for more than 5 years. As such, they have offered free initial transfers for my readers if you use the code ‘KiwiMoney’ in their promotional code section when making a transfer.
It’s always worked well for me & I’ve never had any problems. Pretty reassuring when you have to make a Student Loan payment on the other side of the world by a certain date…
(This blog isn’t going to become a business place, but I couldn’t say no to passing on the opportunities for you from FirstContact).