Why did you decide to move abroad?
I moved to Ireland when I was 19 and just finished with business college (it's a bit a different schooling system in Switzerland). I come from a multi-cultural family and I always had an urge to venture. I could not wait to get out into the world!
Later I moved to China, as my friend opened a language school and I went to help out, which lead to me travelling. It was also a great timing, as Ireland was going through a rough time (massive recession).
After my contract was finished in China, I wanted to travel the long way around the world and go back to Switzerland. But instead, I met my partner in Melbourne Australia, and stayed there for 6 years.
But that is not the end of the story: We are moving together to the UK in February and are super excited about it!
How did you spend your First Month Abroad?
In Ireland I started working and met a ton of expats in the international centre I was working at. So I spent the first month partying alot.
In China my students showed me the town, took me hiking and showed me traditional foods. Also I started to learn Mandarin.
In Australia I spent the first month with that hot guy I met - now my partner of almost 6 years...
What has surprised you most about living in a foreign country?
I was surprised how easily I could fit in anywhere. Home is, wherever you are happy!
Any cultural/language barrier funny moments?
Plenty! Especially in China. For example when I had to dance like a Chicken in a supermarket and a congregation of supermarket workers formed a circle around me to see what that crazy white girl was up to until one understood that I was asking for chicken meat.
I also had several funny incidents trying to understand Australian slang when my boyfriend and I started dating. The morning after the first time he stayed over at mine he asked "Where are my thongs?" For a half Brit like me I thought he was asking where his G-string was and I was panicking and thought how drunk I was last night as I would not have noticed that..... for the Australian, he was wondering where his Flip-Flop was!
What are your favorite activities in your new town?
Explore! Putting on my runners and walk every street, laneway and monument. I enjoy sitting in a cafe, restaurant or park and see the world around me pass by and getting a real feeling for the town.
My favourite finds were:
Dublin - every summer there is a free Shakespeare play at the St Stephen's Green. I loved rocking nights away at The Mezz Bar, Whelan's and The Button Factory. Almost forgot: Skerries! This seaside town in the north of Dublin has got the most relaxed feeling and the best seafood chowder I have ever had!
China - I lived in Anshan and loved hiking in the Tian Shan mountains. But I also fell in Love with the lanes of Beijing!
Australia - I first arrived in Sydney and loved going up to the Observatory in the Rocks area for the view over Sydney. I live in Melbourne though, and enjoy picnics in the Royal Botanical Gardens, or going for a cocktail at the Lui Bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto building.
What advice would you give to tourists visiting your new home town?
Dublin - Get out of Temple Bar! It is a tourist trap!
China - Don't be afraid of travelling by yourself, take the train, and for large monuments hire a private guide. They are cheap and really worth giving you a deeper insight into the history.
Melbourne - the major life takes place in the suburbs. Do not only stick to the Central Business District, it can get boring fast. Instead, go and explore places like South Yarra, St Kilda, Carlton, Fitzroy etc.
Also: Do NOT go onto the Eureka Sky Deck. You pay 20 entry fee, where you can get the same view at the Lui Bar, and all you need to do is to buy a beverage (Beers around $7-9 or a cocktail for about $20).
Also, did you know you can see penguins in St Kilda at the beach (after sunset they come in at the very end of the pier). Many drive 3 hours one way to Phillip Island to see them and pay and entry fee. The same little penguins can be seen for free only a 20 min tram ride from the CBD.
But the Great Ocean Road is definitely worth the trip! :-)
What is the one MUST SEE?
Ireland - Dublin is awesome, but the country is even better! Go on a road trip. Either to the west coast, or far north!
China - Beijing! Beijing in itself is incredible! And Chengdu, Leshan and Emeishan in the province of Sichuan!
What do you miss most about home?
One word: Family!
I will be moving to the UK with my partner very soon. I can't wait! I feel a new adventure is overdue.