Has the thought of living abroad ever crossed your mind? Do you feel like your dream job sits within a different timezone? Taking the leap of faith abroad to meet your dream job is both nerve racking and exhilarating especially if it’s your first time. I’ve thought about this myself and like most people, turned to friends for advice. Experienced in the theme of this topic, I spoke to 2 Londoners who started their new adventures overseas. Find out more about their experience which may help to answer some of your questions.
Meet Shem, Marketing Executive at an award-winning architecture & engineering company in Muscat, Oman. Previously an International Admin Officer in London, here’s what she said about her journey:
Tell us why you moved..
The initial idea of moving came because of family reasons. However, my decision was made because of the idea of having a fresh start to my life in a new surrounding. At the time, I heard about better working environments, working times and most importantly bigger and better benefits. This is what attracted me to move to the Middle East, the idea of being given accommodation, company car and tax free salary on top of a 7am-2pm working day, how could I say no that!?.
Was it a hard decision to make?
It actually wasn't that hard of a decision to make. I wanted a fresh start in a new and different environment in comparison to what I was used to, so having a chance to get a way wasn't that hard to pass on. On top of that I had my mum who is my rock so nothing could go wrong- having said that, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking to myself, would I still have done it if I was alone? Yes I think I probably would have.
What opportunities were you able to get by moving abroad that you may not have got in the UK.
Working abroad, I am respected because of my international knowledge and experience and seen as a way of bringing new and modern ideas into the country i.e new ways of thinking.
What challenges did you face since moving & how did you overcome them?
Culture! Although I myself have Omani background and I am aware of the culture and religion, this was still the biggest challenge faced. Oman is in a sense the complete opposite of London. Quiet-loud, small-big, reserved-outspoken, hot-cold, the list goes on... unlike the UK, Oman is a small country so everyone is everyone's business. As a private person I'm not used to people putting a high level of curiosity in my life activities, whether it be what I do, what I wear or who I see. Making friends and doing sports was a challenge but yet I again I adapted to the lifestyle. For example, it's rare for women to be seen walking let alone running on the streets so instead I go running at the beach at night - adapt and adjust. Simple things like this is what kept me going.
What were the benefits of moving?
Less pressure that's for sure! Not having to wake up in the morning and having those letters coming through the post is the biggest relief - bills bills bills. No housing tax bills, no tv license, no road tax, no nothing- well there are bills of course but not they are different, just the utilities and daily maintenance. I'm a lot happier and calmer, especially after my beach rooftop yoga session followed by a breezy beach run. Nothing beats some time away with the waves. Also, the tax free salary.
Tips on things a person should do before starting their new chapter..
First tip is don't question things too much. I think this is why the move was so easy for me. I didn't overthink on the simple things of would I like it? What happens if I don't like it? Am I going to fit it? How would it be like? The simple matter is how would I know if I'm going to like it or not without trying? If I don't like it I come back to London. Simple! It's not like it's all or nothing.
Choosing to work abroad is the same as choosing to work in the same country, you never know how it will be until you're there, so worry about it when it happens and just like any other job- if you don't like it, fine, change your job. Truth of the matter is yes I missed home, my family and friends as only now 4 years later I'm actually starting to make friends and socialise but still I was able to camouflage with my surroundings, lay low and stay focused with my goals.... getting that paper😏
What have you discovered about yourself since living abroad?
The company I work for has allowed me to work in an extreme, wide variety of positions. As a result, I have discovered that I'm more talented and adaptable than I realised; regardless of the work, I can do it- just show me how and I'll get it done! Working for an architectural company, I have worked across all departments taking on tasks as a receptionist, administrator, accountant, working in HR, marketing, graphic design, writing and editing, even architect and project manager! I used software that were new to me like I never even heard of before like Indesign and autocad. Although it wasn’t the role i originally applied for, I took my own initiative to move into marketing and it has proven to be successful ever since; now growing to become my own department, having interns and trainees with even other staff to assist me in my work.
What advice would you give someone who wants to try living abroad?
Don't think twice and just do it. The world really is your oyster. Being so far away from home, you can still maintain the relationships you have with your family & friends in London. WhatsApp and FaceTime are definitely the two things that has kept me going. As simple as that may be but the ability to message a friend about anything and everything has kept the home feeling in me. It makes me feel like I'm with them and not missing out.
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