Philippines Cebu expat

We’re over half way through 2014, where has the time gone?! On to our seventh expat interview of the month, this time all the way from the beautiful Philippines. We spoke to Jonny Lis, a British expat working and generally enjoying life on the island of Cebu.

Easy question to start! Tell us about yourself.

I’m 26, British, and originally from North London. After I graduated, I did a few temporary jobs before eventually finding the tech industry, and I have worked in this sector since 2010. Aside from work, I love football, movies, exotic food, updating my expat blog, keeping fit and partying.

Why did you move abroad?

I’m sure many travellers will say the same thing, but reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ gave me a lot of inspiration to change my path and try something different. At the time I was stuck in a dead-end job though, so my options were rather limited. Eventually I left to pursue other opportunities and I happened to stumble across a job to work in online marketing in the Philippines, so I applied and here I am!

What is the best thing about where you live now?

I think the obvious answer would be the beaches – I am only an hour or two away from some of the best beaches in the whole of Asia, and I try to go whenever I can. The locals are also very friendly to foreigners and I always get treated with a lot of respect. As you’d imagine everything is very cheap here too.

What (if anything) do you miss about home?

My friends and playing football, mostly. For some reason the Philippines is the only country in Asia that doesn’t like football as they have been heavily influenced by American culture, so basketball is the only sport played/watched here.

I also miss cycling, which is something I did on a daily basis back home. The roads here are pretty lethal due to the quality of driving and the traffic, plus it’s 30ºC-35ºC everyday, so I can’t say I’m tempted to get on a bike any time soon.

If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?

The internet. The Philippines has very slow/unreliable internet speeds and yet charges more for these slow speeds than what you would pay in a western country, plus the connection is also very unreliable.

I’d probably also introduce better roads and transport links – even for me to go to the northern tip of Cebu takes 3-4 hours on a clear road, and it’s only 80km away. Travelling anywhere in this country is surprisingly difficult and I even endured a 7 hour bus ride once.

Do you plan on moving again in the future? If so, where and why.Expat interview Jonny Lis

Well, I’m not someone who likes to plan things too heavily and I have a ‘go-with-the-flow’ attitude. I know I’ll always go home to the UK once a year for Christmas but that’s about it! I’m pretty settled living in Cebu for now though so I have no immediate plans to go anywhere else. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll consider my options, so who knows?

Share your most embarrassing expat moment with us!

I have a few! Probably the one that always sticks out is being forced to sing karaoke in front of my whole office of 130 locals on my first day at my current job. It’s a tradition that any new person always has to perform a ‘talent’ which is either singing or dancing, so I chose to sing ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis. I am a terrible singer and was extremely nervous being in front of so many people, so as you can imagine it went very badly and it makes me cringe even thinking about it!

What was the most difficult aspect of moving abroad?

I would say doing it alone. I never used to be especially independent, so to go on such a big trip without friends or family was a unique and challenging experience. I also had to cope with living on my own and adjusting to a completely different culture and way of life, which was pretty tough.

Share your top three pieces of advice for people thinking about moving to the Philippines.

1. Make sure you’re clued up on how to get a visa before you go. The Philippines has a very frustrating and complicated immigration system – you’re not allowed to enter the country without first having a flight booked to leave within 30 days of entering, even if you plan on staying/applying for a visa when here. You’re also not allowed to leave the country while your visa extension is being processed, which can take months, and there are many different tiers of visa extensions – it’s all very confusing!
2. Research where you’re staying and how to get there. If you plan on staying in a remote place, chances are you will have a difficult journey getting there because the transport network here is very poor. Your best bet would be to stay centrally at first where it’s easier to navigate and safer for foreigners.
3. Be open minded and respectful. Filipinos have their own ways and customs, which are very different to westerners’. It can be a frustrating and illogical place but for the most part the locals will treat you very well over here, so treat them well in return. Foreigners of all ages receive a lot of attention from locals, so get used to people staring at you like you’re an alien and maybe even asking to take a picture with you!

expat guide brasilFor several years now, Brazil has been one of the top destinations for expats and tourists from around the world. It’s not all about the recent FIFA World Cup though, it’s also about the culture, the beaches, the language, the lifestyle, the food, the music… and the football too, let’s face it.

If you are moving or travelling to this beautiful country, our Brazil expat guide will provide you with detailed information about visas, housing, jobs, education – everything before you move until you have settled in. What’s even better? Now it’s all available in French!

Check out the Just Landed Brazil guide to find out how to get a driving licence, open a bank account and write a good Brazilian-style resume. Join our expat community and find a language exchange or check the housing section to find your new home.

Did you know?

  • Baia do Sancho in Brazil is the world’s best beach, according to TripAdvisor.
  • Brazil is one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries, and has more species of monkey than any other country.
  • Over 6 million tourists visit Brazil every year, and half of them go to Rio.

Le Guide du Brésil est en français !

beach-brazil-ipanemaDepuis plusieurs années, le Brésil fait partie des premières destinations au monde pour les touristes et les expats. Ce n’est pas seulement à cause de la Coupe du monde de la FIFA, qui vient de se terminer : c’est surtout à cause de sa culture, de ses plages, de la langue, du mode de vie, de la nourriture, de la musique… et aussi à cause du foot, c’est vrai.

Si vous voulez vous installer au Brésil, ou tout simplement visiter ce superbe pays, notre Guide du Brésil pour expats vous donnera des réponses détaillées à vos questions concernant les visas, l’immobilier, l’emploi, l’éducation : tout ce dont vous aurez besoin avant de déménager. Et la bonne nouvelle, c’est qu’il est maintenant disponible en français !

Rendez-vous sur le Guide du Brésil de Just Landed pour savoir comment obtenir un permis de conduire, ouvrir un compte en banque ou écrire un bon CV brésilien. Rejoignez notre communauté d’expats et faites un échange linguistique, ou jetez un œil sur la section logement pour trouver votre nouvelle maison.

Le saviez-vous ?

  • Baia do Sancho au Brésil est la plus belle plage du monde, d’après TripAdvisor.
  • Le Brésil est l’un des pays qui possède la plus grande biodiversité, et on y trouve plus d’espèces de singes que dans n’importe quel autre pays du monde.
  • Plus de 6 millions de touristes viennent au Brésil chaque année, et la moitié d’entre eux se rendent à Rio.

life berlin expat

For our June expat interview we spoke to Stephen Glennon who lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Easy question to start, tell us about yourself.
I’m Stephen, I’m originally from Ireland but I’ve been living in Berlin since 2005. I’m a writer and translator and I founded the English-language football magazine No Dice.

Why did you move abroad?

I had just finished university in Ireland and because of my Erasmus year in Genoa in 2003/4, I was desperate to leave Ireland and have some more European adventures. I had a couple of friends in Berlin and the World Cup was coming up, so I decided to head there. I was only planning on staying for six months or so, but I’m still here almost nine years later.

What is the best thing about where you live now?

Freedom. I work freelance and it’s great to be able to work the hours I want, and from home too. It’s hard to get off the nine-to-five office treadmill but here it really works – provided you’re willing to slog through tons of paperwork and deal with difficult bureaucrats. As for Berlin itself, each different area has a completely different feel - from the working-class eastern areas to the well-to-do neighbourhoods in the west and the previously-poor but now über-hip areas of Kreuzberg and Neukölln near the centre, there is always something new and exciting to see and experience.

What (if anything) do you miss about home?

Mostly I miss how friendly and open Irish people are. Berliners are notoriously unfriendly and blunt – the region is famed in Germany for being the least friendly area of the least friendly country in Europe.

If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?

I would love it if Berliners learned to see the immeasurable value in polite, friendly exchanges with complete strangers.

Do you plan on moving again in the future? If so, where and why.no dice expat interview

I like to take off every January and February to avoid the freezing winters. So I will always take breaks from Berlin but I don’t think I’ll ever want to permanently leave this wonderful town.

What was the most difficult aspect of moving abroad?

Strangely I have never found it difficult to live abroad. I worked hard at learning the language as quickly as I could, so that made it a lot easier to settle in. Still, it was very frustrating for the first few months as I struggled to make myself clear with even the simplest of concepts.

Share your top three tips for people thinking about moving to Germany.
  1. Learn the language! So many people move here thinking that speaking English is enough, but there is an increasing distaste for such tendencies as gentrification is starting to run rife and force prices and rents up, particularly in Berlin.
  2. It’s also important to know why you’re going where you’re going – far too many people see Berlin as an enormous adult playground where you can easily indulge all of your vices with impunity. Doing so makes it easy to forget that this is a wonderful place to live and work and it’s really worth working hard to learn the language and getting yourself established in your chosen field. That done, you can enjoy all the wonders of Berlin in both work and play.
  3. Finally, bring lots of Lemsip (cold medicine) – there is nothing of the sort in Germany and pharmacies will try to sell you silly homeopathic remedies.

Check out Stephen’s football magazine No Dice online and follow them on Facebook for football news in English.