21 July 2016

Angie K. - Expat in Essex, The United Kingdom

Angie K. - Expat in Essex, The United Kingdom

Angie K. is a 42-year-old University Administrator living in the United Kingdom. Although she was born and raised in Bulgaria, she decided to move to the UK originally to study towards a Master’s degree. Upon completion of her studies, she married her boyfriend and decided to settle in her beloved host country. The couple now has two young children.

 

When asked about her most difficult experience while living in the UK, “The most frustrating experience for me was not being able to find a job to suit my skills and abilities. Holding a Master’s degree obtained in the UK and having had a prestigious job back in my home country, I still found it impossible to get any office jobs here. I had to clean and stack shelves for a living for two years. On the positive side, this allowed me to see the ‘real’ Britain, which can be very different from Britain we read about in English textbooks,” Angie shared.

 

Finding a job in a new country can be next to impossible, especially for expats who are just starting their new life abroad. One way to find possible employment is to check local job listings—check your host country’s local newspapers, fliers and also out employment websites and local facebook groups, as it is a trend now for people to post classifieds online. Another way is to make friends with fellow expats and locals, they might know which companies/establishments are hiring.

 

Find out more about Angie K.’s experiences in the United Kingdom in her full interview below.

 

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Bulgaria

 

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

A:  Originally, I came to the UK to study towards a Master’s degree, having won a prestigious scholarship. I decided to stay on in this country upon completion of my studies, so got married to my boyfriend and settled here.

 

Q: Where are you living now?

A:  In Essex, UK.

 

Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: The foreign language I did at school was English, which determined my choice.

 

Q: How long have you been living in the United Kingdom?

A: I was born in Bulgaria and have been living there until the age of 28.

 

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

A: The most frustrating experience for me was not being able to find a job to suit my skills and abilities. Holding a Master’s degree obtained in the UK and having had a prestigious job back in my home country, I still found it impossible to get any office jobs here. I had to clean and stack shelves for living a for two years. On the positive side, this allowed me to see the ‘real’ Britain, which can be very different from Britain we read about in English textbooks.

 

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

A: My experience with any immigration formalities was actually very positive, as my visa application was supported by the British Council. I was ever so grateful for this, as it took the pressure off me.

 

Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle? 

A: I live with my husband and two young children. My husband came to England a few months after me, so we both been sharing the struggle and adjusting to living in England together. It was very difficult in the first few years, but we are now settled and feel happy here. Our children were both born in England and are both British.

 

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

A: Before I left for the UK, I established online contact (through ICQ) with a Bulgarian expat living in the same town where I was going to study. She introduced me to the Bulgarian circle here, very supportive and friendly people. They were our only friends in the first years, until I gradually made friends with locals. I would say that I socialise mainly with locals now, but keep in regular touch with Bulgarian friends, too. Most of them have moved to other parts of the country, so we don’t get to see each other too often.

 

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

A: I would highly recommend the Colchester Zoo: very large and occupied by hundreds of species. If coming from afar, you can easily spend a whole day here. The other place to see is Colchester Castle and the beautiful Castle Park surrounding it.

 

Q: How does the cost of living in the United Kingdom compare to your home?

A:  Compared to Bulgaria, the cost of food, drinks and cigarettes is substantially higher in the UK. Whenever I go back to visit my home country, I always enjoy eating out, as it works out rather cheap for me, earning British pounds rather than Bulgarian levs.

 

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I wouldn’t like to generalise, as people are different. Unfortunately, we have had both negative and positive experiences with locals, but over the course of the years my opinion improved a lot. I would now say that they are friendly and open-minded people. They can be a bit two-faced, though, so before trusting anyone, you’ve got to make sure you know them well.

 

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

A: Bulgaria is a beautiful country with lots of places to visit, lots of historic places and wonders of nature. Most of my friends still live there, so I always catch up with them whenever I visit. Unfortunately, it is difficult to earn decent income and enjoy comfortable lifestyle there, which is why we decided to settle in the UK instead.

 

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Of course I do.

 

Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I keep in touch with my family and friends regularly and by doing so I don’t feel homesick too often. If I do, I just have to deal with it. What helps are Skype and Facebook.

 

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

A: As we have now settled in England and are raising our kids here, I don’t expect to move to another country or back home. My home is here now, but I know better than saying ‘never’. You never know what the future holds!

 

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

A: Missing the family... Sometimes you have that odd feeling that a part of you is missing, just because you left it there with your Mum/Granny/Sister/Dad. I always believed that home is where your heart is and if your heart is in a million places that does not mean that your heart is shattered, that only means you heart is growing in order to reach all the corners where your beloved ones are

 

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

A: Try to make friends with the locals, as this can make a huge difference – this is what can help you feel at home in your new country. If you can find people from your own country, this will help you adjust to the cultural shock. Take things easy and take one step at a time!

 

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about the UK?

A: No, I don’t actually. Here is information about my blog, Not Another Tall Blog:

URL: notanothertallblog.com

Facebook: www.facebook/notanothertallblog