Interview With an Expat: A New Zealand Blogger Living in Spain
In order to give you another standpoint on life overseas, I decided that it would be an amazing idea to interview expats from other nationalities living in different countries from time to time and post it on this blog. And to begin this project, I had the chance to collaborate and interview Sonja, who is a lovely girl from New Zealand currently living in Spain. She also started her own blog, which is called Migrating Miss, with the aim of giving advise regarding expat life as well as sharing her adventures around the world. She has lived in 6 different places and it doesn't seem like she is ready to slow down, which I am very thankful of as she's been able to provide us with wonderful content on her blog and it's been great to learn more about her experiences.
So bellow you will get to know her a little better, and hope this interview will help you understand a bit more about expat life through someone else's eyes. For tips in How to Make Friends in a New Country click here.
1- Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you come from.
I was born in New Zealand, and as a child my parents instilled a sense for adventure in me. We were always exploring different places in New Zealand, and often on a whim or without solid plans. With their support, I embarked on a year long student exchange to the USA when I was 16 years old. After this I knew there was no looking back and I had grand plans to travel the world. After another study abroad during university, this time in Canada, I moved to Australia to work and save for my goal of moving to the UK and travelling Europe. I fell in love with Scotland, and with living in Europe. After my visa ended I decided to move to Spain to fulfil another dream of learning Spanish and teaching English. I started my travel blog, Migrating Miss, just before my last move abroad. Living overseas has opened up so many possibilities for me, although it hasn’t been without it’s fair share of hurdles too. I aim to inspire and provide information to people who want to travel and show them how they can fulfil their travel dreams by moving abroad.
2- What made you decide to move abroad?
New Zealand is an isolated country. It takes hours by plane to reach the nearest other country, and in the opposite hemisphere to where most of our media and popular culture originates. It’s extremely common for young New Zealanders to want to travel abroad, to have a taste of life on the other side of the world. Many people move to London, but I started a little earlier in highschool with a trip to the USA. When I first applied for the AFS Exchange program I don’t think I actually thought it would happen. The next thing I knew I was on a plane and on my way!
3- What challenges did you face during the move?
My first move abroad I was very young and without my family. I think I cried every night for the first couple of weeks! Not because I as unhappy, but it was such a big thing. Culture shock is real too! When it came time to go home though, I was so sad to leave the place and people that had become my home and family. My last move to Spain I thought would be a lot more plain sailing than it was. I forgot about the lows you can have at times, and this was the first time I moved to a place where I couldn’t speak the language. That barrier did make things much harder at times! However, I think we really come to appreciate the challenges because when we meet them and get through, we appreciate the life we have built for ourselves so much more.
4- What were your reasons to start a blog and what do you like most about it?
I’ve always had family and friends asking me for travel tips or to help plan something for a holiday. I would happily help, but I realized that I could be sharing this information in another way. I love to write and document my travels, plus I had been looking for a change in career to something more web related. It made sense to start a blog! I really enjoy creating the content, and when I receive feedback about how a post has helped something then it seriously makes my day.
5- Are there many other expats in your area?
Almería is in the south east of Spain. Although much of Andalucia is on the tourist track, this little corner isn’t popular with foreign tourists and expats yet. It works well for me because it means I practice a lot more Spanish! In nearby Cabo de Gata national park there are some villages popular with expats, and with more airlines starting to fly into Almerïa airport, I can imagine that things will be changing.
6- What do you like most about the country you are living now?
Spain is a really amazing place to live. Living in the south means I have great weather most of the year, which is always a bonus! I love the food, since you can’t beat tapas, and it’s relatively cheap to live here in comparison to some other western European countries. People are really friendly, and very passionate about their culture and lifestyle.
7- What do you miss the most about your birth country? And did you ever feel homesick?
I usually miss the people much more than the place itself, but if a big event is happening at home or something happens that the whole country is getting involved in then I really do miss it. New Zealand can be like one big village sometimes! I do miss the great cafes that we have, although I make it my mission to hunt down cafes wherever I go.
8 - What do you like and dislike about your expat life?
I love being able to experience other cultures, to make friends with people who I would never have met otherwise, and learn more about myself in the process. The only thing is, once you’ve lived abroad you will never truly be able to feel at home again. You’ll always be missing something and someone somewhere!
9 - What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If you’re thinking about it, just go for it! I’d recommend that everyone try and live in another country at some point, if they possibly can. If you can’t afford or don’t want to go on a long trip, then living abroad is another way to travel and see a lot in another place. It also means you can continue with a career, or build one to take back home with you. I wouldn’t trade my experiences living abroad for anything!
10- What are your plans for the future?
Next year I’ll be moving abroad once again, although this time I’m returning to Scotland. I want to base myself there and continue to travel and share my adventures on Migrating Miss!