1 August 2016

Irina Iordan - Expat in India

Irina Iordan - Expat in India

We’ve had the chance to talk to Irina Iordan, 32, a Romanian Digital Marketing Strategist living in India.

Mrs. Irina Iordan decided to move to her husband’s native country in 2011. While the transition was smooth, she said that the culture shock is inevitable as India is very different from western countries. The widespread poverty, poor hygiene, and noise pollution are some things that an expat has to get used to. Nevertheless, it is not something that an open mind and patience cannot overcome.

Beyond shopping and sight-seeing destinations, Mrs. Iordan also said that the food is delicious and locals are approachable. In Mumbai, there is a big expat community as well. The mother shared about her childbirth experience in the country, “Public health system is unreliable, but private hospitals are usually efficient, clean and affordable. If you plan to have a baby in India, you should know that husbands are not allowed in the delivery room, and due to selective abortions that still happen in India, it is also illegal to know the gender of your baby before delivery.”

Read more about Mrs. Iordan’s experiences as an expat in India, in her full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I am originally from Romania.


Q: What made you move out of Romania?

A: My husband is from India and we decided to move to this country in 2011.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I am living in Mumbai, with my husband and our daughter.


Q: How long have you been living in Romania?

A: For near to five years now.


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in India?

A: I don’t remember having a very difficult experience moving here. Yes, India is a culture shock, a different world, especially for Westerners, and can be hard to live in, but this is also part of the beauty and the uniqueness of this experience. I was emotionally touched by poverty and living conditions, seeing skyscrapers next to slums, not being used to bargaining for everything, climate change, traffic madness, and continuous noise. I don’t think I moved on but have started to take it as it is and see the beauty beneath the first impression of chaos.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance was particularly difficult in India? What was your experience with these?

A: Being married to a national made the process of getting visa easier. However, for an expat, getting a job is pretty difficult as well as doing business or buying properties. Public health system is unreliable, but private hospitals are usually efficient, clean and affordable. I have an experience with private health system as I gave birth in Mumbai. If you plan to have a baby in India, you should know that husbands are not allowed in the delivery room, and due to selective abortions that still happen in India, it is also illegal to know the gender of your baby before delivery.


Q: Are you living with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I am living with my husband and our daughter. Our daughter is born in India. I would say I am the only “expat” in the family who is still adjusting.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in India? How did you manage to find a social circle?

A: It is easy to interact with Indians, most of them are speaking English and they are very friendly.

In Mumbai, there are many expats, especially in the area I’m living in and it's easy to get in contact with them as we are meeting in the park, at the stores or just on the streets. I recently had a pleasant surprise meeting a Romanian family whom I interact with quite often. Also, many expat groups are organising meetings or parties.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Mumbai, being a cosmopolitan city, there are many malls around to shop, antiques bazaars and markets, beautiful parks, beaches where you can have a relaxing walk and enjoy the sea breeze, coffee shops or historical sites. Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Nariman Point, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Colaba, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Kanheri Caves are just a few must see places in Mumbai.


Q: How does the cost of living in India compared to your home?

A: Life in India can be expensive or cheap, depending on the lifestyle and the town you are living in.

If you buy local food, it's very reasonable compared to my home. Imported goods are very expensive. For renting a decent house in Mumbai, the prices are overrated – the value for money isn't quite there. Very expensive is also the education - there are many high standard international schools in Mumbai but they are not affordable. Also, the registration process happens long in advance.

To give you an idea, a good coffee costs around 100 Rs (1.3 EUR), a lunch into an inexpensive restaurant can cost from 100 Rs to 300 Rs, and a meal into an expensive restaurant can cost from 500-1000 Rs per person (7-15 EUR). Wine and cigarettes as all the imported things are expensive, a bottle of local wine cost minimum 500 Rs and a pack of Indian cigarettes from 200 Rs. 


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: In general, locals are nice people; they smile a lot, friendly and hospitable. If you know a bit of their local language, it is even easier to interact with them.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in India?

A: India is a very colorful country with a mix of different cultures and people. There is always something new to discover, you never get into a comfort zone, which can be challenging. The warm climate, low prices, friendly people and delicious local food, are also positive sides of living in India.

The negative aspects: The poverty that shows almost everywhere, with children begging on the streets and the corruption. Garbage and hygiene - people leave their trash anywhere and there is a lack of public toilets. It is a noisy city, overcrowded and polluted. 


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Missing my family is probably the hardest aspect for me as an expat. Not just for me, but also not having my daughter spending more time with them and being part of their and our daily life. I cope with it by having at least a visit per year during winter holidays, or by video calls and keeping in touch via the internet.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: We haven’t decided yet.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: Being away from my family and missing the important events in each other’s lives. Of, course we keep in touch through Internet mostly but sometimes it’s just not enough.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in India?

A: Have an open mind, be tolerant and have lots of patience. Take Indian people as they are, have a positive attitude. Travel and discover India, as much as you can, it’s an amazing country.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about India?

A: There are lots of expats in India blogging about their experience here – bombayjules.blogspot.in, expatliv.blogspot.in, whiteindianhousewife.com, just to name a few. As I am a big Indian food fan, I am blogging and sharing my Indian cooking adventure, on my blog. Websites like indiamike.com, zomato.com, ndtv.com, magicbricks.com, naukri.com can be useful.