A British expat in Germany
I was invited to be interviewed for ExpatsBlog.com. A very long time ago, now! Here are my late-night answers after a rather hectic weekend…! I leave them here for posterity 😉
Carole Hallett Mobbs moved from Britain to Tokyo, Japan in 2006 when their daughter was five years old and now currently lives in Berlin, Germany. Carole is well travelled, with most of her travels done before having her daughter and done solo. They survived with assistance from more experienced expats and Carole now runs a great expat website ExpatChild.com helping others.
Here’s the interview with Carole… published on 30th September 2012
Where are you originally from? Britain.
In which country and city are you living now? Berlin, Germany.
How long have you lived here? Eighteen months. We moved here straight from Tokyo, Japan in April 2011.
What made you decide to up sticks and emigrate? My husband’s job. Naturally we discussed the application beforehand and decided to go for it while our daughter was still young.
Why did you pick this country? We didn’t choose it! My husband was relocated here after his term in Tokyo.
Did you bring family with you? Yes, our daughter and our pets; a cat and a dog.
What immigration advice did you get and how did you get it? No advice. It’s sort of expected by the company that you know what the deal is. All official immigration is dealt with by the company. We get (rather biased) information about the city, and some recommended schools, but ultimately we have to deal with the emotional stuff ourselves.
Did you get a relocation company to help you move? Not really. As above, all is dealt with by the company.
How does the cost of living compare? Cheaper than Japan. Similar to the UK in some respects, more expensive in others. Not cheap, that’s for sure!
Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Here – no, not at all. I’m still hoping, though! In Japan, yes – I made some lifelong friends there. Partly due to the school-gate syndrome (meeting other mums at drop off and collection). But now my daughter’s older, she goes to school on her own and, although I’ve tried to make friends via the school, it just hasn’t happened. Another aspect of this problem is the kind of expat community certain countries have. In Japan the expats tended to stick together. The company’s dynamics are also very different from country to country – it’s not particularly inclusive to spouses here.
What was the hardest thing with the whole expat experience? Nothing I can think of, really. Apart from the friend-making problem. We don’t get to choose our housing, but it’s not the end of the world! Obstacles are challenges and everything can be overcome with enough common sense and buckets of self-reliance.
What is your favourite aspect of the expat experience? Experiencing different cultures and countries for longer than a holiday!
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone emigrating here, what would it be? Spend some time here first so you can work out where you want to live.
What are your top 5 expat tips?
- Keep an open mind.
- Say “yes” to everything you’re invited to.
- Accept that it’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions, and go with the flow.
- Be positive.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog. My most recent venture is ‘Expat Child’ http://expatchild.com. This is an advice and sharing site for all parents of expat children; including current, seasoned and future expats or parents, regardless of nationality and location. I’m concentrating mainly on building the content on this site, so my personal blogging is taking a back seat for now.
How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area? While I don’t feel competent to advise future expats on potential moves to Berlin, I’m more than happy to receive any contact regarding ‘Expat Child’ here.
Many thanks to Carole for taking the time to participate in this expat interview with us. We highly recommend visiting her website and following her on Twitter @ExpatChild.
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