24 November 2016

Mariana P. Cardoso - Expat in the USA

Mariana P. Cardoso - Expat in the USA

We’ve had the chance to talk to Mariana P Cardoso, 27, a Portuguese expat who has moved to New York with her husband. Mrs. Cardoso who has been living there for two and a half years, now works as a recruitment consultant. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Portugal.


Q: What made you move from Portugal?

A: I studied Hospitality Management at university so it’s pretty common to move away from home for job opportunities. I have been living in different countries since I was 20 years old. 


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

A: I recently moved from Miami to New York City. I originally got a job offer to work for a global hotel brand in Miami while I was there visiting my boyfriend. 


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

A: Two and a half years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? 

A: I live with my husband.


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

A: Of course, I miss my family and my friends every day. I focus on everything that I love here, on the reasons that made me move in the first place and I think about all the things I am experiencing here that I wouldn’t be at home. I love to experience different cultures by living in their countries, to learn their language, their jokes and the way they think.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: Well, it depends on who you consider a local in New York. It’s hard to find native New Yorkers but the ones I’ve met so far are very friendly. I should say that you might get the wrong impression if you walk at a ‘touristic pace’ during rush hour or if you don’t stay right when you are on escalators. It’s very likely that you’re going to get yelled at.


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

A: In Miami, it was very easy because I had a Portuguese friend living with me and I already had some friends there. In New York, we are still in that process. Anderson Frank has social events every month and we do have some friends that moved here before us that introduced us to their friends. 


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

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: $4.

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

A: $20.

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

A: $100.

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

A: $20. $40 for a good one (this hurts a Portuguese…). I have no idea about the cigarettes.


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

A: Walk in with your passport, $20 and say: I want to open a bank account.


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

A: Easy but it involves a lot of paperwork and it can take some time. Be patient.


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

A: It is reliable but you can’t compare it to Europe. Prepare to spend a lot of money. Having a general doctor is better than just going to walk-in clinics. I realized after the 1st year that I was overpaying going to the walk-in clinics.


Q: Did you secure health insurance in the US? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: I have my insurance here. Even though it can be very costly, not having it can be very expensive if you ever need medical assistance. There’s no public health system here like we are used to have in Europe, so you should definitely have everything covered. 


Q: What was most memorable about the packing and moving process to the US? 

A: Hmm. Trying to pack your life in a suitcase can be quite challenging but it makes you realise that you don’t need as many things to live as you think you do. I moved here with two suitcases and a carry-on. I thought I was only staying for one year, though…


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

A: Not understanding their jokes!


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

A: In terms of positives, you could work for almost any global company because all of them have a presence here. You can go shopping or to a supermarket dressed as if you were going to the gym and no one cares! (My Portuguese friends will make fun of me because of this one). You can easily drive to a different state or take a two-hour flight to several amazing vacation places. In terms of negatives, I would say the health system.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Try new restaurants - there are so many! You can try a new one every day if you want and if your pocket allows you to. Also, keep an eye open for free events in the city. I missed some cool ones because I had no idea they existed. I’d recommend the weekend farmer markets too – I love them!


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

A: Not right now. But I would definitely like to go back to a warmer place. 


Q: What tips would you give to expats living in the country?

A: Enjoy the differences.