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From Poland to London: Project Abroad

29 May, 2017 08:06  Erin Erin

Project Abroad Hi everyone! My name is Marta, I grew up and studied in Poland and moved to London, UK in 2015. I am a psychologist by education, recruiter by profession, a trainer and blogger by passion.

1.    Why did you move abroad?
I was always eager to open an atlas and look through its different pages to see where the countries are, what the demographics looks like, how the economy differs, what natural resources are available etc. When I got older I added the passion for English language to the picture and got into intercultural communication midway through my studies. Intercultural psychology, reading about it in the books and educating myself prompted me to move abroad after finishing my studies to finally be able to experience it all by myself. And it indeed turned out to be quite an experience!

2.    How do you make a living?
I was in a comfortable situation, being able to apply for a position internally within my company. I was working for that company back in Poland for 2 years alongside my studies and when I decided that I wanted to move to England they made it possible for me to transfer for a similar position. I work in graduate recruiting in a consulting company, so I work very closely with current UK-based students and recent graduates. My standard of living improved after moving to London, so I consider myself lucky to be in that position.

3.    How often do you communicate with home and how?
I’m on the phone with my mum pretty much 3-4 times a week. I use WhatsApp a lot to make these calls with her as well as my friends as they provide a really good service (given that internet here in the UK is really not that great!). I visit my family and friends every 3-4 months on average, but it’s not always easy to be able to meet with everyone during short stays. Sometimes you need to prioritize one meeting over the other unfortunately.

4.    What's your favorite thing about being an expat in London?
My favourite thing is the variety of… well, everything! You can meet people from all over the world, eat food from all over the world, find really secluded places as well as more busy ones, go for a great theatre play or equally cool clubbing night – almost anything you can think of you can find in London and nearby.

5.    What’s the worst thing about being an expat in London?
Finding accommodation and paying for it. Property prices in London are insane and flat hunting here is one of the most hated exercise for me so far.

6.    What do you miss most?
Surprisingly, I don’t miss food or Polish products at all, which I thought would be the case. There are lots of similar products, brands and shop chains between Poland and UK, and if I really want something specific – lots of Polish shops exist as well. The thing I miss the most is all the strong relationships with family and friends that I left behind. This feeling of ‘abandoning’ them and the relationship dynamics changing is not an easy thing to deal with.

7.    What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I said ‘Yes’ to many opportunities. When someone at work said “Hey, we’re going bowling, do you want to join?” I said yes (which ended up getting enrolled in an amazing volunteering project that I’m a part of for 2nd year now). When I heard about a meet up group that is of interest for me I went. When one of the Polish bloggers organized a meeting for fellow bloggers in London – I joined too. I also continued the hobby that I had back home and met a group of cool friends there as well through sharing the passion.

8.    What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Chit chat, haha! I got used to it, I think I even gotten much better at it as well throughout my time here (hopefully!). But it’s still a mystery for me why people have such a big urge to talk about weather/how are yous/plans for the weekend when they only have 30 seconds in the lift (or for the US audience: elevator). Sometimes it would be better to just go up in silence instead of starting a conversation that has no chance to continue for a long time. It therefore takes quite a while to build relationships with the English people as you need to spend some time digging below the surface conversations that people tend to have with pretty much anyone.

9.    What is a myth about your adopted country?
One of the myths that I think still exists is that the British are all crazy about the Royal Family, celebrating weddings, anniversaries, almost fanatic-like. The reality is that most of the people treat the Queen and her family as part of the wider politics rather than a deity, despite of what is presented I the media. There are of course people who are obsessed with the family’s life, but I wouldn’t say it’s that common for everyone here. Most people simply treat the Queen and conversations about her with due respect.

10.    Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living in the UK and London in particular is much higher than in Poland. It was financially challenging to relocate, especially when you have to cover 2 months rent in advance for your flat in pounds and buy all the essentials, ie. kitchen stuff, bedsheets etc. It works quite well when I now go back home though - everything feels cheaper so there are advantages in the end.

11.    What advice would you give other expats?
Do as much reading before you leave as possible. Both on the paperwork and legal side of things (do you need visas, how to set up bank accounts, where to look for flats etc) as well as the softer side (read blogs about experiences of other people and how they saw the new host country at first and how this view was evolving). And remember, even with all this reading you can’t be prepared for everything. Moving abroad is a journey of self-discovery!

12.    When and why did you start your blog?
I created my blog, once I moved abroad and started experiencing all the expat struggles. I really wanted to share my experiences and start learning from other expats as well as help others with their struggles of living and working abroad.

Blog LinkMarta's blog, Project Abroad

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