As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Laura: a curious expat always seeking new challenges
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
Hi, travellers! My name is Laura, I’m 28 and I come from Spain.
I would describe myself as an inquisitive person who loves travelling and learning new things. I do love foreign languages and I am polyglot: I speak English, Spanish, French and a little bit of Russian. During my life I have been working in all sorts of fields such as hotels, schools, hospitals and international trading companies. I am convinced it’s always good to try out different things and have multiple experiences in different backgrounds!
Why did you move to your current country?
I moved to Reading in UK because I wanted to have some work experience abroad and improve my English. I have always been fascinated by England history, heritage and landscapes so I decided to go find a job there and travel at the same time! Why Reading? Well, keep on reading.
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
I went to Reading because it’s where I found a job as a Sales Administrator and I had the chance to apply remotely online on Reed.co.uk when I was still living in France. I did a Skype interview and I got the job! The remote job hunting was pretty simple in my case, but I know that it is easier to find a job once you are onsite. Once I arrived in Reading, I realised there were plenty of job offers for people speaking foreign languages to work in help desks and customer service for international companies.
My advice would be to browse all the job opportunities that you could have in a particular place and then move to the place before applying. Once you start applying you can get an interview pretty quickly, which is one of the reasons many people move to the UK: it is very easy to find a job!
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
The social life in Reading wasn’t amazing and I found it very hard to socialise with locals. It was much easier to meet international people coming from all over the world at Meetups, Facebook events, hiking groups or Couchsurfing meetings. Expats living there seemed to be more willing to learn about the country you come from and tell you about theirs.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
Reading is a small quiet town with a great deal of job offers for sales administrators and shop assistants, engineers and people working in the IT field. Many companies are based there because it is more convenient than London.
At the same time though, London is less than 30 minutes train ride away and Reading Train Station is one of the biggest in the UK with links to almost all possible destinations.
Although it is not the most beautiful town in the world— people say the good thing about Reading is how easy it is go to other places. There are very nice spots to discover and you will be in the best possible location to explore during your days off!
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
If you are looking for an alternative to the busy and expensive London but still a place where it is easy to find a job and well connected to other cities then come to Reading! Enjoy a quiet middle-sized city with lots of hiking options, where you’ll find all you need and from where you will be able to go anywhere you want.
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
My personal experience with the NHS hasn’t been very good so far. I found the health workers to be quite cold and unsympathetic but this is just my personal opinion. As for safety, I never felt unsafe but Reading has quite a lot of beggars and drug dealers in the streets especially at night so like every other city, keep you eyes open and avoid isolated areas after dark.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
The rent in Reading is quite high, around 400 pounds per month per person for a room in a shared house. Train tickets and transports in the UK are very expensive as well, but not always on time! As for supermarkets, there are various ranges of prices for all budgets: the cheapest ones are Aldi, Tesco and Lidl and the most expensive and better quality ones are Waitrose or Sainsbury’s. Generally, the UK is pretty expensive!
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
It was difficult to find accommodation remotely in Reading because landlords ask you to visit the place before accepting your request and it was impossible for me to do it while living in France! There is a very useful website called “SpareRoom” and I was lucky enough to find a kind landlord who accepted to show me the house on Skype.
Another option is to join a Facebook group for expats where different offers are displayed and people are very helpful.
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
A must-do place to visit would be to visit Caversham, as suburb of Reading just behind the Train Station, where you can do lovely walks by the river, then why not going to do some shopping at the Oracle, considered by some people one of the top 10 shopping centres in the UK.
Reading is also rich in British history and you can visit the ruins of Reading Abbey, which was, in its heyday, Europe’s largest royal monastery. Besides, you’ll be able to visit the prison where Oscar Wilde was locked up as well as discover a great tribute to the writer along one of the river’s shores.
There are also very good hiking routes from here to beautiful traditional villages such as Slough, Pangbourne, Goring and Streatly or Henley-on-Thames.
Did you find Laura’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities!