Expat interviews: Part 1

Here at Just Landed we have carried out a number of interviews with expats to find out what expat life is really like. The first of our series focuses on expats in Australia, Singapore and China.

Sinead works in Australia, Rex works in Singapore and Luke studies in China.

Q: Did you feel welcomed when you arrived in your country?

Sinead: I felt welcomed by my work. I stayed with someone from work for the first two weeks until I found somewhere more permanent to stay and everyone was very accommodating.

Rex: To some extent, I felt welcomed. The airport staff were friendly enough but most other people (e.g. taxi drivers) were not so friendly.

Luke: I did not feel very welcomed at all. What made it okay was the people I was with. On the whole, there isn’t much communication from the Chinese when you arrive, which can make it hard to integrate.

Q: What’s the social life like?

Sinead: The social life is very different to what I’ve experienced before. At work everyone was a lot older than me so even though they were lovely, I wouldn’t really do things with them in a social setting out of work. So even though it’s fine now, it was definitely more difficult to set up an initial social life.

Rex: Some parts of Singapore are fantastic for having a social life. For example, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay are home to the majority of the bars, and everything is open so it is very easy to meet people. There are also lots of sports clubs to join.

Luke: Social life is really good, especially among other expats. Plenty of bars/restaurants to go to at reasonable costs.

Q: Do you enjoy what you’re doing there?

Sinead: I do enjoy where I work. For the first 6 months I worked at quite a prestigious well known brand in Australia. I now work at a new place which has a younger crowd and I have a lot more free reign in terms of how I do my job which I prefer.

Rex: I enjoyed it a lot. My actual work wasn’t that challenging but I loved working in the Singaporean environment.

Luke: To be honest, I don’t really enjoy the life in Shanghai. It’s very different, I find the classes boring and prefer the lifestyle back home.

Q: Did you find it easy to make friends with the locals?

Sinead: Yes, for the most part Australia has a very friendly culture.

Rex: It was easy to make friends with the younger locals because they were all more outgoing. The others were very standoffish.

Luke: I found it very hard to make friends with the locals, and I am still mainly friends with expats.

Q: Did you suffer from culture shock?

Sinead: A little bit. It’s not very different out here but they do have different phrases that I didn’t understand at first and a slightly different way of life.

Rex: Not at all. Singapore is a very easy place to live.

Luke: I definitely suffered from culture shock. It was especially hard for the first few days when I was by myself.

Q: What do you miss from home?

Sinead: I really miss my friends, family and the chilled lifestyle at home. Plus it sounds a bit bizarre, but I miss the old buildings in London. Sydney isn’t as old a city as London and I miss the pretty, historical buildings at home.

Rex: I missed my Mum’s home cooked food and the English beers and banter!

Luke: I miss the healthy lifestyle, not having to worry about the food and the clean air.

Q: Is it an expensive or cheap way of life?

Sinead: Sydney is expensive! But they do pay well because of it… but still expensive!

Rex: It’s very cheap to survive (after rent) as food and travel are very cheap. However, if you would like to do any sort of activity or even socialise or go for a drink, it’s very expensive. There is no middle ground.

Luke: Because we are now accustomed to it, it doesn’t seem that cheap. However, compared to the UK, you can live very cheaply in Shanghai.

So there we have it, the first in our series of interviews! We hope you they gave you a deeper insight into what expat life is like on the eastern side of the globe.

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