This is part four of my new Expat Interview Series, where I plan to interview my expat friends who have dotted themselves all over the world. I’m hoping this series of posts will provide some insight into what it is like to live overseas, and might even encourage a few people to pack their bags and make the move!
Meet Tara Povey, a Kiwi/Irish expat who is working as a pharmacist (turned travel blogger) in the UK. When not chilling at home in Ireland or travelling to distant lands, you’ll find her working behind a Pharmacy counter in Devon!
Tara is an adventure crazy, people loving, energy drink-addicted, closet hippie and runs the brilliant travel blog Where is Tara? where she writes some of the most honest reviews and hilarious blog posts this side of the Atlantic. Here she tells us all about her life as an expat in the UK.
What made you move abroad in the first place?
WELL, work, to put it simply. I’m a pharmacist for BOOTS and they said I could choose between Ireland or the UK. So I chose the UK because I thought it would be fun to live in a different country. I might have been a bit naive thinking it would feel like a holiday haha. But yeah, mainly I just wanted to meet new people and try a different country.
How long have you been living abroad?
I first moved to the UK in March 2012, just before St.Patrick’s day. I’ve been home for a few weeks since then, but no longer than that.
What is the most difficult thing about living so far from home?
Ok, well I don’t live SO far from home. Though I get asked that a lot because people think I’m Canadian ALL the time haha. I have been travelling all around the world for the past year though, so a lot of the time I guess I was pretty far from home.
I only ever missed home when I was exhausted or something went wrong. So when I nearly drowned in the Philippines, I really wished I’d had my friends or family for support then.
How did you make friends when you first arrived?
Hmmm, well I met people through work because a lot of us were expat pharmacists. I also joined a few martial art clubs and met people through those. Then, when I started blogging, I met a bunch of wonderful people online. I didn’t house share, but that’s usually a great way to meet people. England has a big pub culture too and my sister worked in my local pub for a couple of months so I knew all the staff there.
What do you love the most about being an expat?
I think being an expat really makes you appreciate your own country. I would have never considered myself patriotic until I moved to England. It really opened my eyes to how the rest of the world view the Irish. Also, I LOVE seeing life in another country up close and personal.
Has anything funny happened to you due to cultural differences?
Literally nobody ever understands me in England when I say “Would you like a plastic bag?”. ONLY that phrase. I have no idea why. ALSO, in Devon, they use the word “Irish” interchangeably with the word stupid. So a little old lady came in and dropped her keys and said “Oh, that’s so Irish of me!”. Obviously I was shocked and more than a little offended. That was hard to deal with.
Oh God, I was also given potatoes with smiley faces drawn on them by a group of lads I met for the first time when I moved to England. I could have thought of it as offensive but I just thanked them for the free dinner!
How do you cope when things are going badly?
I usually call my sister or my friend, they both are also expats living in England. It helps to hear their accents and that they can relate to how I feel being away from home. Or, if it gets really bad, I can just hop on a flight home for a weekend. Or I eat a potato and watch river dance…… not really though :P
Do you think you travel a lot more now because you live overseas?
Hmm, I think, due to my extremely flexible career in the UK, I definitely have the opportunity to travel more. I don’t have to worry about things like “what will happen if I run out of money?”, because I know I can just come back to England and work for a few months as a Pharmacist. Then it’s time to head off again. Which is exactly what I’ll be doing after Christmas. However, even if I was still at home, I would have found a way to travel a lot.
What are your future plans? Travel plans?
I’m headed back to the UK (Devon) to work for two months so that I can fund my future travels. I’m off to the World Travel Market in London in November, since I’m going to be in the UK anyway. I’ll head back to Dublin for Christmas and then in January my next big adventure starts. Not sure where, but I like to be last-minute about my travel plans!
If you could give one piece of advice about moving abroad, what would it be?
Ideally, have the job sorted before you arrive. Easier said than done I know. But if you can’t do that, sort your accommodation as soon as humanly possible. Google the best areas to live, ask friends or ask in forums/groups on the internet. Sub letting for a month or two in the beginning can be a good idea too as it gives you a chance to check out different areas for yourself and really get a feel for a place before committing to a long lease.
Finally, always make sure you have “running away money”. I think it’s an Irish mammy thing, but my mother always told me to have a bit of money stashed away in case everything went wrong and I just needed to come home. It’s a safety net. Nothing seems as scary when you know you can just go home if you want.
You can read Tara’s awesome travel blog here or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on all her crazy adventures.