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everyone has stories of where they've lived, share yours and help others decide on their next destination.

baku, azerbaijan - anonymous' thoughts after weeks there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 11/06/13.

3

How much time have did spent in Azerbaijan?

I spent six weeks in Azerbaijan.

Which best describes how old you are/were while in Azerbaijan?

Twenties.

What brought you to Azerbaijan? Where were you before?

I landed a short term teaching contract. I was looking for a way to travel, but I didn’t have much money so I started looking for teaching positions. I found one as a professional development/business English teacher.

Describe the city you lived in in Azerbaijan and your impressions of it.

I lived in Baku. It was a really interesting city; it felt like I was living in a clash of civilizations. The city has a ton of history and has UNESCO heritage sights right in the center of town. At the same time, all around new Dubai-style buildings are being built with the country’s oil money. Similarly, the culture is still very traditional, but Western businesses are starting to pop up everywhere.

What makes the people of Azerbaijan unique? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

Like the entire region, the people of Azerbaijan are super hospitable. For example, a coworker and I took a bus to Gobustan and were speaking English to each...

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buenos aires, argentina - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 11/05/13.

4

How much time have you spent in Argentina?

I spent around 2 months in Argentina. An old friend of mine from high school was studying there at the time, and since her parents didn’t want her to be alone, she was encouraged to invite friends along to stay at her apartment with her. I moved from Seattle, Washington in the US down to Argentina in the late summer of 2010 and left after about 2 months.

How old were you when you came to Argentina? Where were you before? What brought you to Argentina?

I was 23 at the time. I was living in Seattle before I left, and the main reason that I wanted to go to Argentina was because I’d never lived outside the country before, and the opportunity to spend more than a week or so abroad sounded much better than staying in the Pacific Northwest. Argentina (and Buenos Aires specifically) had a reputation for being one of the major cultural centers of South America and I wanted to experience it very badly.

My choice was largely based on the fact that my room was free. My friend, Adri, lived in a building owned by her father. Her parents were so thrilled that she wouldn’t be living alone that they offered me the room for free.

I should also...

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rome, italy - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 11/02/13.

3

I lived in Italy for a year, and I've been back for 2 week stretches to visit in-laws, take trips etc. Probably around 1.5-2 years total time spent there so far. I was 27 when I first arrived. I was in California before that, Japan before that, and Spain before that!

I chose Italy because I had a few friends living there (friends from my time and studies in Spain) and they said it was amazing and there were plenty of jobs. At the time I wasn't happy with my position at a bank in the US so I left and went to Rome.

Ahh Rome. Big, historic, beautiful- amazing architecture and art. Great food. First impressions are positive, and as you live there you see the cracks that any society has- bureaucracy, traffic, litter, poverty.

How does Rome compare to other cities in Italy? What drew you to Rome over other cities in Italy?

Very nice. Better weather than the north, close to the sea (30 minutes drive), more jobs, also more traffic and at times pretty crazy. Not the most peaceful city in Italy, nor the most green, but there is something for everyone there.

What are the Italian people like? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

Italians are...

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australia - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/31/13.

1

How much time have you spent in Australia? Where were you before? How old were you when you came to Ausralia?

1 year. NYC. 25.

What brought you to Australia?

This is a long and convoluted story but if we were to boil it down and a truthful, yet amusing way: WORLD OF WARCRAFT. haha yes I met some friends on WOW. no they were not axe murders and consequently neither am I.

What made you choose Australia over any other place you could've gone?

I was debating between Germany and OZ. I opted for the happier looking country! Describe the city you live in in Australia and your impressions of it. Brisbane. It's a very young city, about the size of Philly or Boston. There's a lot going on, you've just got to know where to look. It has a lot of hidden gems.

How does the city you live in compare to other cities in Australia?

From my experience Melbourne is known to be the 'artsy' city. As an artist myself I thought I'd wind up there until I realised Brisbane's charm. Again, you have to know where to look where as 'Melbin' (as it's pronounced) is much older and has more European so it's a bit more obvious in that way. I found Sydney to be much more touristy and business-like...

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prague, czech republic - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 50s

posted by anonymous on 10/31/13.

6

How much time have you spent in the Czech Republic? How old were you when you came to the Czech Republic? Where were you before?

I first visited Prague in 2005 before moving here full-time three months later. I was 48 when I moved here from London, UK.

What brought you to the Czech Republic?

I'd read an article about Prague and how the British embassy here was being swamped by drunk and injured Brits unable to find their way to hospital so I decided to market a tourist magazine aimed at solving the problem. It fell through but, by that time, I'd fallen in love with the city (and a lovely Czech girl) and decided to move here anyway.

Describe the city you live in in the Czech Republic and your impressions of it.

Prague is just about the most beautiful place I've ever lived. Just waking up and looking out of the window is inspiring (I'm an artist by trade) and to stand on one of its many bridges with the woman you love is by far the most romantic thing in the world. It's bohemian, atmospheric, weird, scary and everything a creative person could hope for in a city.

Was making friends and meeting people in the Czech Republic in general easy or difficult?

My first job...

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oulu, finland - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/31/13.

4

How much time have you spent in Finland?

I've been here since September 19th 2012. So just over a year now, time flies.

How old were you when you came to Finland? Where were you before?

I was 21, it was around a month after turning 21 actually. I am originally from Scotland.

What brought you to Finland? What made you choose Finland over any other place you could've gone?

I wouldn't really say I had any choice in the matter. I met a girl online, we decided it would be awesome to see each other, so I came here thinking I'd only be here for around 5 weeks. Now we're married and with a child on the way.

Describe the city you live in in Finland and your impressions of it.

Oulu is a very nice city, one thing I've noticed is that it's very flat, extremely flat, this is strange as I'm from Scotland. It's a very clean city, everything seems to run on time and as soon as the snow starts to fall it'll be shoveled onto the sides of the roads in hours. It's a pretty efficient place, even if some people look down on it for being ''depressing.'

How does the city you live in compare to other cities in Finland? What drew you to the city you live in over other cities in...

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bonn, germany - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/31/13.

2

I'm a Slovak expat living in Bonn, Germany. I've been in Bonn for about two years. I spent most of the time since I came in the city. I go to visit my parents couple of times a year, which is surprisingly more often than when I lived in Prague. Mainly because they moved closer to big city with airport and I can afford to fly there. Although Prague was geographically closer to my hometown, it takes much less time to get to my parents now than before. I came just after mine 26th birthday shortly after finishing uni.

I grow up in a small town in Slovakia and then I went to study and work for six years to Prague. I finished my MSc there and was not really satisfied with my job. I also wanted to continue my studies with PhD and stay in academia. I got accepted to another PhD position in Prague, but I did not really feel I belong there and I wanted to change my environment completely and start over. So when an opportunity opened (through an old friend of mine) to come to Germany, I went for it. It was more less random set of circumstances that brought me here. The only obstacle was that I did not speak the language, but on the other hand it was conveniently close (not that it played...

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paris, france - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/30/13.

2

I moved from my home country to the UK at 18, and to France five years later. I have now been in France for five years. The reason I moved to France, was entirely due to work. My group was re-stationed here, and I had the choice between following or essentially quitting. Until that point I had no great interest in French culture or language, so I was, to put it mildly, unprepared. My job in France was only meant to last for a year or so, but for various reasons I ended up extending my stay a year at a time, never intending to stay for longer, so never putting much effort into "becoming French" (which is a disgrace of course).

I spent most of my time in Paris. Paris is beautiful, probably the most beautiful city I ever visited, for some reason it is equally smelly (what is it with people pissing everywhere!?). Apart from the aesthetics, the most notable thing (I would say) about Paris is its vibrant restaurant culture. It is very common (at least in part due to various government schemes) to eat out both for lunch and dinner. As a result there is a great variety of choices, many of which (but far from all!) are of excellent quality.

As to the people, Parisians are somewhat...

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the united kingdom - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/30/13.

1

I've lived in the UK now for just over 4 years.

I was 35 when I arrived here, and I lived in Sydney, Australia before then.

My husband was transferred for work. The Sydney office was closing, so it was either move over here or he needed to get another job.

I live in Maidenhead, which is a small town just west of London, in the county of Berkshire. It's a pretty affluent area of the UK, but as with most places, has it's more 'affordable' parts.

We moved here because this is where my husband's office was based. No point being too far away from the reason we were here!

I love the people here, though some of them can be a little uptight compared to Australians. Everyone is polite, though if you talk to a stranger in the street, or supermarket, they always tend to look a little shocked!

It's always difficult to make friends in new places, especially as an adult, but I found being different was a good thing. I was a bit of a novelty to some people. It helped having a young son in school, though it was difficult to break into the school mum circle. My social life basically came from the lovely neighbours we had. 3 families who lived close by have become so important to me, as...

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buenos aires, argentina - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/30/13.

5

How old were you when you came to Argentina? Where were you before?

I moved to Argentina when I was about 30. Immediately before that I had been in Costa Rica for a bit more than a year and before that had come from my home state of California. Before moving to Latin America, I had already spent close to a year over many individual trips, so I had some clue what I was getting into.

Describe your impressions of Buenos Aires. Did you like living there?

I arrived in the middle of the night with no idea where I was going to stay and I had never been there before. I jumped in a taxi and just cruised from hotel to hotel looking for a room.

What struck me off the bat was that despite it being about 3AM, there were people all over the place, and not shady looking creeper types, just normal people out for a late, late night on the town. Of all the large cities I've been in at 3AM Buenos Aires, at least the central downtown area was decidedly less sketchy than most.

I'm not much of a city guy, I really prefer mountains and small towns. Buenos Aires is a big bustling city and the nearest mountain in the country is about 500 miles away, so I really missed the outdoors while I was...

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san jose, costa rica - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/30/13.

2

How much time have you spent in Costa Rica?

Two years.

How old were you when you came to Costa Rica? Where were you before?

I was 31 and previously lived in the Midwest, USA.

What brought you to Costa Rica? What made you choose Costa Rica over any other place you could've gone?

It was an optional assignment for work. I couldn't choose any other country, but I decided to go because I had done some traveling before and felt like I needed a fresh start in life.

Describe the city you lived in in Costa Rica and your impressions of it.

I lived in Zapote, a middle class suburb of San Jose, the capital city.

How does the city you lived in compare to other cities in Costa Rica? What drew you to the city you lived in over other cities in Costa Rica?

My job was there, so I couldn't choose anywhere else. It's the only large city in Costa Rica, so it was very congested compared to others. If foreigners think anything if Costa Rica, I think they imagine tropical rainforests and such. CR has plenty of those, but 75% of the population lives in and around San Jose. It's a concrete jungle and you won't see any rainforests, only barbed wire and security gates.

What are the...

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china - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/30/13.

1

How much time have you spent in China? How old were you when you came to China? Where were you before?

I came to China about a year and a half ago at 25 from Thailand where I was teaching. I'd decided I liked teaching, but wanted to see somewhere new (A year in Thailand is more than enough time to see the sights).

What brought you to China? What made you choose China over any other place you could've gone?

I chose China because it was where the best looking job was, it wasn't necessarily the place I was most interested in, but the money was right.

Describe the city you live in in China and your impressions of it.

I currently live in Hangzhou, a provincial capital (and once the capital of China) It's a massive tourist destination within China, with people coming from all over to see. For me it's just about the perfect sized city to live in. No so small that I know every expat by name, not too big either. It's about a half hour train ride to Shanghai, so whatever I can't find here, I can easily make a weekend trip for.

What are Chinese people like? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

One of the hardest things to get used to...

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japan - anonymous' reflections after years there in their teens

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

2

How much time have you spent in Japan?

2 years, many times, but the longest visits where 1 year in the 90s and 1 year in the 00s.

How old were you when you came to Japan? Where were you before?

I’m from Sweden, went as an exchange student right after (the equivalent of) junior high at 16. The second time I went there I was 25.

What brought you to Japan? What made you choose Japan over any other place you could've gone?

I wanted to go to a place that was very different, but with a sense of equality, i.e. no walled communities, white fences, but with a dominant middle class.

Describe the city you lived in in Japan and your impressions of it.

I first went to a smallish city in the north of Japan. It was slightly larger than the town I’m from, but not everyone in Japan knows where it is. Friendly, but not that much to do, besides bowling and karaoke. The area has cool places to visit within 2-3 hours by car.

How does the city you lived in compare to other cities in Japan? What drew you to the city you lived in over other cities in Japan?

It’s a small city by Japanese standards, but the shopping center of the area. From other exchange students I heard that schools...

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mexico city, mexico - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

4

How much time have you spent in Mexico?

In total 6 years. In between I lived in Belgium for 3 years. (2 years Mexico, 3 years Belgium, 4 years Mexico)

How old were you when you came to Mexico? Where were you before?

I was 22, almost 23. Before I lived in the Netherlands (my home country).

What brought you to Mexico? What made you choose Mexico over any other place you could've gone?

I went here to study in an exchange program where I could study one semester abroad. I applied to schools in Mexico and Peru. Mexico was my first choice because I really wanted to learn Spanish and from what I heard on TV the Spanish in Mexico sounded a bit more understandable than the Spanish in other countries. I knew I wanted to go to Latin America for sure. A year back I went to Guatemala to study spanish for 7 weeks and completely fell in love with the country and the Latin American culture. Not to mention the climate :)

When studying I met the man who is now my husband, so I decided to stay here.

Describe the city you live in in Mexico and your impressions of it.

I live in Mexico City and it is absolutely AMAZING! It is one of the largest cities in the world, and has a unique...

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the philippines - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

4

How much time have you spent in the Philippines?

About 2 and a quarter years, about summer '05 to '07.

How old were you when you came to the Philippines? Where were you before?

20, from the Western United States.

Describe the city you lived in in the Philippines and your impressions of it. How does the city you lived in compare to other cities in the Philippines? What drew you to the city you lived in over other cities in the Philippines?

I lived in several cities over Cavite Province, such as Dasmariñas and Tanza, then spent about a year in Metro Manila proper, living in Makati, Bonifacio, and Muntinlupa. There's a tremendous variety to the Philippines, with the sparser provincial areas filled with domesticated kalabaw (water buffalo), and a wider mixture of home types, including houses made of wood and grass, denser concrete barangays (individual communities), and poorer "squatter" communities with homes generally made of wood and corrugated aluminum panels. The city is quite a bit more packed and often features much tighter living conditions, with temperatures often growing to sweltering levels due to how packed in and insulated things are, the ground consisting of...

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japan - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

1

I moved to Japan about 2 and a half years ago. When I came to Japan, I was just 22 years old, pretty much straight out of university. Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by Japanese culture in a big way. I loved watching anime as a kid, played hundreds of Japanese video games, and thought it was a technological wonderland. the job I took (English teacher) was also a steady paycheck and a ticket to travel.

I live in a small town about 3 hours north of Tokyo. When I first moved here, I was disappointed that I wasn't put in a big city like Tokyo, but now, I wouldn't change it for anything. The small-town life in Japan is so peaceful, the people are so friendly, and the countryside is beautiful. There is so much of the country I get to explore, and I feel like if I was in a big city, I wouldn't have experienced half the things I have experienced living out here.

I lived in a fairly small town in the suburbs of Australia, so my town here feels very similar.

People here are exceptionally polite which is kind of a double-edged sword. It's fantastic when you are lost, or need help, completely strangers will go completely out of their way to give you a hand. But, on the other...

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japan - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

3

How much time have you spent in Japan?

My wife and I lived in Japan for 18 months. From January 2003 to July 2004.

How old were you when you came to Japan? Where were you before?

We were both 25 when we moved there. We had just ended a 3 month backpacking trip around Europe and got news that we were accepted as teachers while we were in London. We are both from Los Angeles.

What brought you to Japan? What made you choose Japan over any other place you could’ve gone?

We wanted to live somewhere that was safe, a place where we could earn decent money and a place we could use as a travel hub. Everyone has heard of teaching English in Japan, so we just went that route.

Describe the city you lived in in Japan and your impressions of it.

I lived in a small mountain village named Suzaka (not to be confused with the famous auto racing city, Suzuka), just north of Nagano. My wife lived in Nagano proper. The English school, AEON, already has apartments set up for the teachers so we didn’t have a say in where we lived. They also selected the two schools in close proximity for us, as a married couple. It was a short train ride between our places, shorter than our commutes in...

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the united arab emirates - anonymous' reflections after years there in their teens

posted by anonymous on 10/29/13.

3

Dubai was in the process of striving to be the Monaco of the Middle East. A Millionaire's Playground that would be the destination of the nouveau riche and celebrities. Abu Dhabi was actually the oil-rich Emirate but retained more traditional areas like the markets. Sadly it has now followed in Dubai's footsteps and become an ultra-modern tourist trap with little in the way of heritage on display. Dubai is certainly the more famous of the Emirates, and the home of the rich sporting events and luxury hotels. Abu Dhabi is more densely populated and is the commercial and economic capital.

The locals are incredibly hospitable and friendly - if you play by the rules. They are eager to display their wealth and, unlike most nationalities, are happy to talk about their success. Politics and religion aren't discussed too much They play hard - fast cars and falcons are the order of the day.

The locals are incredibly welcoming. They like most every nationality. I was in 6 different schools, within which we had more nationalities than I could count. It was a huge melting pot. Staying in hotels you would find many different nationalities coming through the doors, and each was treated...

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sweden - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/28/13.

1

I spent 10 months in Sweden as part of an European exchange program. My course offered a chance for students who do well in their first year to spend their third year abroad, and having never been out of my home country (the UK), it made me try hard in my first year to make sure I was offered a chance to join the exchange program.

I chose Sweden because it was a country I'd always been interested in, and somewhere I didn't think I'd get the chance to visit (through holiday, work etc.) otherwise. I'm also a gamer and had knew people from Sweden for several years who encouraged me to chose Sweden.

I imagine my experiences will be quite different to anyone who went abroad for work rather than study, so I can't really comment on work, but I highly encourage anyone thinking of studying in Sweden to do so.

I lived in Lund, which is one of the two main university towns in Sweden (along with Uppsala). I chose to join a 'mentor group' where a few people who have been at the university for a few years host a group of about 15-20 new students from abroad, to show them around the city, organise social events and introduce them to life in Sweden.

This was great for me as I very quickly...

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the united states - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/28/13.

2

I've now been living in the US for almost 8 years. I had visited for a few weeks previously, which partially influenced my decision to move here. I was 25 when I moved here, and previously lived in the UK.

I came to the US largely for work. I work in the games industry and this is where the best studios are based. I specifically was offered a job at my dream company in Seattle, so there was no question if I should move or not.

At first I moved to Seattle, which wasn't quite what I was expecting. It was cold and raining, and for some reason I had this view of the US which is always sunny and beaches. The people were good though, and there was a good music scene and nearby hiking or skiing. After 5 years I moved to California, where my American dream came true.

I now live in Santa Monica, which is in perpetual sunshine. It has a "small town" vibe despite being really big, and right next to LA. We are right on the beach which is fun, and we have a lot of pedestrian shopping areas. There are great hikes nearby, all the nightlife of LA and the surrounding area, you can go surfing and skiing in the same day. It's great here!

People here are a lot more "politically correct" and...

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