2 December 2016

Sylwia Norkiewicz - Expat in Newcastle, United Kingdom

Sylwia Norkiewicz - Expat in Newcastle, United Kingdom

We’ve had the chance to talk to Sylwia Norkiewicz, 28, a Polish expat who has moved to the UK with her fiancé. Miss Norkiewicz who has been living there for nine years, now works as a recruitment consultant.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Poland.


Q: What made you move?

A: When I was 13 we moved with my family to Norway. It was great to experience the Scandinavian culture but after four years, when it came to choosing a university to go to, Newcastle was an easy choice to make. I’m not going to lie – the nightlife here had a lot to do with it!


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

A: I live in Tynemouth - it’s a small coastal village not far from Newcastle. I moved here primarily because my fiancé is from here but I’m really happy here. It offers a great lifestyle – lots of bars and restaurants, beautiful architecture and long, sandy beaches.


Q: How long have you been living in the UK?

A: It’s been nine years now! It’s crazy how quickly time flies by.


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

A: I do every now and then but to be honest nowadays it’s so easy to Skype/WhatsApp, etc. And there are direct flights to Stavanger in Norway where my parents and siblings live so I can be there in as little as two hours.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: The Geordies are something else! I love them! They are the happiest, friendliest and most approachable people I have ever met. It took a while to understand what they are saying because Geordie seems to be a different language altogether, but once you crack the code it’s really fun to be around them.


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

A: Extremely easy! Before I joined Pearson Frank I didn’t know many Polish people in Newcastle, but once I started working on the CEE market that changed. I met some really great, like-minded friends here.


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

A: It’s a lot more than in Poland, and a lot less than in Norway. All in all, I feel that the ratio of earning vs. cost of living is really good here in the UK. 

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A:  £2.80.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: £35.00 for two.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Up to £155.00 for two.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: A decent bottle is somewhere between £8 and £11, a pack of cigarettes is around £6 from what I’ve heard – I don’t smoke.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in the UK?

A: You will need “proof of address” – so bring a letter that has your name and the address where you live on.  Other than that it’s really straight forward. There are lots of banks that won’t charge you any fees for a current account.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: I didn’t need any Visa as I come from an EU country. Things are really easy to sort out here.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in the UK is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: The NHS is a great service. Your NHS contributions come out straight from your pay so when you actually need a doctor it’s already paid for and you don’t need to worry about any additional bills. However, doctors here are quite reluctant to prescribe antibiotics so if you have got a cold, cough or flu, save yourself time and don’t bother going to your GP. It’s guaranteed they’ll tell you to take paracetamol and rest.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to the UK? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: To be honest I packed just one suitcase and flew here with Lufthansa. Everything else I acquired once I was already here.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Learning the local dialect! It’s been nine years and I still cannot understand my father-in-law to be.


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

A: Positives: the people, good standard of living, British culture, unbelievable numbers of pubs and bars, great nightlife. Negatives: undoubtedly the weather.


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

A: Not really. Maybe in some distant future, but for now I’m very settled. We bought a house here a couple of years ago and I’m very happy here.