1 August 2016

Karsten Eskelund - Expat in India

Karsten Eskelund - Expat in India

Karsten Eskelund is a 41-year-old expatriate in India, where he works as a senior sourcing advisor. As of January 2015, he is currently back in Norway—his home country. Mr. Eskelund relocated to India from 2010 to 2012 due to the high living costs in Norway. “It is quite difficult for a Norwegian IT-consultant to get any assignment abroad. When the opportunity came to work on a local based salary in India it was an opportunity I just had to take,” he explained. He has lived in India for two years.

There were a number of challenges that Mr. Eskelund went through while in India, but he noted that his most difficult experience as an expat in India involved dealing with the bureaucracy. “Without an address in India, I could not open a bank account or get a SIM-card. Without a bank account, I could not pay for the flat I wanted to rent. Without a SIM-card it was hard to call the broker, who refused to accept calls from a foreign number. Luckily, I had some very nice colleagues who helped me with all of this!” he said. He added that it took him some time to get to know people, but after joining some Facebook groups and club events, he was able to meet people.

Expatriates who have recently moved overseas may find that a difficult bureaucracy can be a very challenging obstacle. To make it easier to process important documents and other formalities, expats may want to consider obtaining professional immigration services. In addition to these immigration-related amenities, expats who are seeking out opportunities to meet locals or other expatriates can look to clubs and associations. Like Mr. Eskelund’s experiences, joining club events can be a great way for expats to socialize and meet other expatriates and locals.

Find out more about Karsten Eskelund’s experiences in India in his full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from?

A: I’m originally from Norway

Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: Having worked in the IT-sector from more than 15 years, I was curious to know more about how it was to live and work in India. When I got an opportunity to work in a project in India, it was easy for me to say yes, and to join a project there.

Q: Where are you living now?

A: At the time of writing (January 2015) I’m back in my home country, Norway. I spent about two years in India from 2010 to 2012.

Q: How long have you been living in India?

A: I lived in India for about 2 years.

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

A: Landing in a new country with only a suitcase of clothes and a place where I could stay temporary for 2 weeks, I faced a number of challenges. The very first one was a snake that came into my bathroom the first night at the guesthouse where I stayed! The bureaucracy was absolutely a challenge initially. Without an address in India, I could not open a bank account or get a SIM-card. Without a bank account, I could not pay for the flat I wanted to rent. Without a SIM-card it was hard to call the broker, who refused to accept calls from a foreign number. Luckily, I had some very nice colleagues who helped me with all of this!

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: As long as I had a work agreement with the company I worked for, it was not really that difficult to get a visa. I used a private health insurance and did not have any issues with that. It must be said that I never had to use the insurance, so I don’t really know how good it was.

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: I lived alone

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

A: It took some time for me to get to know people. Most of the colleagues at my age already have a family and I understand that they wanted to spend time with them. The younger colleagues probably did not have a salary that allowed them to roam around and explore things the way I wanted. I joined some groups on Facebook and events hosted by Internations. In addition, I used my sailing experience to get in touch with people from Royal Bombay Yacht Club. I can also recommend Bombay Hash as a nice group to join.  When I first had established a group of friends I was very comfortable with them and did not found any problems. Indians in general are quite warm and welcoming, so it was actually not too difficult to get friends.

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

A: India is an enormous country! It is not without a reason that people say it is a continent in its own. I decided quite early that I wanted to see as much as the county as possible and have been to approximately half of the states. In Mumbai, I would recommend to take the local train, roam around and Juhu beach, visit Choor Bazar and Dharavi. Visits to Gateway of India, Taj Hotel and Leopold Café are among the things all Expats should do! When in India you should absolutely visit the backwaters of Kerala! Marina beach in Chennai is also one place I do remember as an amazing place. Take a trip to the Rajasthan desert, visit the holy city of Varanasi and also see Taj Mahal in Agra. The places to see are unlimited!

Q: How do you find the local culture and people in your host country?

A: I do feel proud to say that I have quite a huge number of local Indian friends! It was important for me to not only be part of any “expat bubble” but to actually get local friends also. Indians are very warm people and it is easy to get in touch with them. I simply love interacting with the locals!

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

A: The best thing with Mumbai in particular is that there is always something going on. Mumbai is really a happening place! You will meet a number of people who want to become friend with you and you can have a lot of fun in the place! The traffic and pollution is probably the biggest negative side of Mumbai. I have travelled to a number of places, and must say that being stuck in Mumbai traffic is still one thing I really dislike.

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Hardly

Q: How did you adjust to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: The first year I don’t think I had any real Expat lifestyle. I lived in a small flat in a building with only locals, and used public transport to and from office every day. One of the best things I did in India was to buy my own car so that I could travel around independent. That gave an enormous freedom. The second year I moved to an area where there were more expats. Still I don’t think it was particular difficult to change lifestyle. I tried my best to be the one I always have been, and for me that worked quite well.

Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I did not had homesickness


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

A: I would love to move on to a different country at some point of time.

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

A: One sad part with being an expat is that people you have befriended suddenly leave the place. It is probably a reality for most expats that the only certain thing is that you will leave the place where you stay sooner or later. Many of my friends in Mumbai are not there anymore. Some of them left when I was there and many others have left after. It is always sad when people you have had a lot of fun with suddenly disappear.

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

A: It is important to find a balance between the life where you live and your friends back home. You cannot expect any of your friends home to keep in touch with you. It is you who have moved out who are responsible for staying in touch with them!

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: My own blog! http://nor2ind.wordpress.com.