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

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

posted by anonymous on 10/13/13.

1

What brought you to Indonesia? Where were you before?

I moved there to marry a woman I met in the US. We fell in love, got engaged, unengaged, she moved home, we missed each other and she sent me a plane ticket. I arrived and proposed after about an hour. I had gone with her for a huge series of huge weddings (her family was and is very wealthy; not bragging, that's how it was.)

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

Jakarta. I loved Jakarta. We lived out in the boonies in a mansion with acres and acres of land. I was the only white guy for miles around, so I got to see a lot of things that other foreigners didn't. Jakarta was chaotic and dirty and hot. Everyone else there hated it. I truly loved it.

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

Like I said, her family was there and that's where I lived. I went to bandung and yogya and bali; they all seemed sleepy and kind of half-built. Jakarta is one of the most crowded cities in the world and it shows. Anything can happen there.

What are Indonesians like? In what ways are they different...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/13/13.

2

How much time have you spent in Italy?

I’ve spent three years in Italy in one run, but through various visits both in my childhood and after my move there and subsequent move back to the U.S., I’ve spent a great deal of time there... maybe five or six years in total?

How old you are/were while in Italy?

I was 19 when I moved and 22 when I moved back home.

What brought you to Italy? Where were you before?

I went to Italy for three reasons: 1) Being Italian American, I have always been very close to my heritage and wanted to find out more. Wanting to experience actually living in Italy was really important for me. 2) I wanted to go to university there and it was leaps and bounds cheaper than school in the U.S. 3) I was able to go and not have to think about visas or anything because I have dual U.S./Italian citizenship.

Describe the city you live/lived in in Italy and your impressions of it.

I first moved to Catania, Sicily. My family is from Sicily, so it’s near and dear to my heart (though they are not from Catania). The weather is fantastic, the people are kind and hospitable and the food is absolutely excellent. However, it seems like nobody works as the same...

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switzerland - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/13/13.

3

What brought you to Switzerland? Where were you before?

A few reasons, we decided there was nothing left for us in America, also I have other family living in Switzerland and with the threat of unemployment and an undiagnosed health condition we decided to liquidate our assets and move, we used to live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

We currently live in a small town of approximately 4500 people called Jegenstorf. It is about a 15 minute train ride to the capital city of Bern and another 15 minutes to Solothurn. It is a relaxing town that is a stark contrast to the bustle of Bern.

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

In many cases Jegenstorf is quite similar to other locations in Switzerland that aren't ideal tourist attractions, we have one Bahnauf (train stop), schools, a church, some farms, government and social services buildings.

What drew you to the city you live in over other cities in Switzerland?

The primary draw to Jegenstorf was the fact that it is approximately half-way between Solothurn and Bern, I have a health condition that requires frequent trips to...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/10/13.

8

What brought you to Qatar? Where were you before?

I lived in the US before moving to Qatar. My husband got the opportunity to move there for work, and since we'd always wanted to live overseas for a while we jumped at the chance. Qatar was certainly not in our top 5 list of countries we'd dreamed of moving to, but hey -- why turn down a chance to live in a new country?

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

There's really only one city in Qatar: Doha. It's a really peculiar place to live because it's growing so rapidly. Twenty years ago, there was basically nothing there. When I moved there, there were only a couple tall buildings "downtown." Now, it has a pretty impressive skyline, but it's still building the kinds of infrastructure (e.g. sufficiently wide streets, public transport) and cultural gravitas (e.g. museums, theater) that you might expect in a capital city. That said, it does have most of the comforts of home, for example an incredible number of Starbucks per capita. You're really not roughing it when you move to Doha.

In terms of housing, most middle-class expats live in "compounds," which despite its foreboding sound really just...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/10/13.

4

What brought you to Switzerland? Where were you before?

I am from the US. I had previously lived in Florida and California before moving to Switzerland to pursue a PhD.

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

Basel is a smallish city (~300,000 people). You can bike clear across the city in 20 minutes. The Rhine runs through the city. During the summer everyone spends their free time at the Rhine swimming, barbecuing, and drinking. During the winter the fun stuff starts happening in the cities many squares. Whether it's the Herbstmesse, the Weihnachtsmarkt, Art Basel, it seems there is always something going on despite the city's small size.

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

I think Basel is a very under-rated city in Switzerland. When people think about popular expat destinations in Switzerland they definitely think first of Geneva and Zurich. But, Basel has as big or bigger an expat population than those cities thanks to the huge demand for scientists and architects. In Basel every one you meet is a scientist or an architect....

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

posted by anonymous on 10/10/13.

3

What brought you to Germany? Where were you before?

I came to Germany while 21, and I'm nearing 24 now, so early 20s. I immigrated for love! My then-boyfriend is German, and things went well so he's my husband and I'm permanently transplanted. I'm originally from Texas.

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

The city I live in (Cologne) is very colorful. We're the "gay capital of Germany." We have one of the biggest Christopher Street Day celebrations (gay pride) in the country. I love it! There's also a lot of immigrants so you can find nearly any kind of food you want anywhere in the city.

What makes the people of Germany unique?

Germany is unique in bread culture. I never knew you could get anything other than "wheat" or "white" square loaf bread like what you get in the States. Here, that's called "toast" and isn't considered real bread! Bakeries are abundant and very cheap; you can get 1 loaf + 10 rolls for less than 4€.

Was making friends and meeting people in Germany in general easy or difficult?

Making friends is tough when you don't speak the language well. You end up friends with a lot of similar expatriates, which doesn't...

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australia - anonymous' reflections after years there in their teens

posted by anonymous on 10/09/13.

2

I came here in late December 2010, when I was 14, because my parents moved here. They told me we moved because there wasn't much of a future in South Africa for a while male, because of racial politics and because the general state of the economy and infrastructure was so poor that also helped their decision.

I live on the Gold Coast (Saying "in" feels off, even though it's technically a city), and it's.... er. Different. It's probably the seediest big city in Australia, and I've heard it called the Las Vegas of Australia (Though I would disagree with that). The overall populace of course varies, but for the most part everyone is really laid back (Which took a lot of getting used to!). A very very big drug, and drinking, culture among teenagers is something I've also noticed.

I couldn't say much apart from them being extremely laid back, and for the most part it seems they have abandoned social politics. There's some mild racial tension when dealing with Aboriginals/Torres Strait Islanders, but... for the most part, everyone is incredibly laid back, and the pace is pretty slow, and politics aren't taken much into consideration.

It was very difficult at first because everyone...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

5

What brought you to Canada? Where were you before?

I was in a long distance relationship with a Canadian girl. We met online playing a popular MMO and decided to meet in person while on vacation in Seattle. After I visited Edmonton a few times we decided to get a little more serious so I left my hometown of Boise, ID and moved in with her. We got married 5 months later when a border guard threatened to reject my entry to the country saying I had "no ties" to the US since I stopped going to college and quit my job to come up here to visit her for 6 months. He was worried I would just stay illegally. He was a total dick, and not the first border guard on a power trip I've had to deal with but once I got my permanent residency after we got married all that trouble went away. I can cross the border just as fast as any citizen now and they don't ask questions when I flash that residency card.

What are your impressions and thoughts about Edmonton.

It's a big city with lots of money. Alberta has a ton of oil so Edmonton is a very prosperous city being the "Gateway to the North" where the oil is drilled in northern Alberta and logging/mining in the Northwest Territories.

What...

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france - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 40s

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

4

What brought you to France? Where were you before?

I moved here from Amsterdam, the Netherlands (1 year) and moved there from London, UK (5 years). All told, I left the US back in 2006 and I'm quite happy in Europe.

Describe the city you live in in France.

Originally I lived in Paris for over a year, but I think of it as "filthy elegance". Paris is polluted, expensive, high crime, and lovely. After our flat was burgled, my wife and I decided to pack up and leave. We (we also have a 2 1/2 year old daughter) now live in La Rochelle, a small port town on the Bay of Biscay. It's gorgeous and the vieux port*(old port) has lovely medieval towers guarding the entrance. For the price of our tiny 2-bedroom flat on the outskirts of Paris, we have a huge 3-bedroom flat in the city center.

What are the the people of France like?

The French are lovely. The "snob" stereotype is sad and wrong. One thing which catches some people unaware is that for much of Europe, people are friendly with those they wish to be friends with and they're more formal with others. Thus, for Americans who are really friendly and outgoing, it's a source of confusion that goes both ways. You'll sometimes...

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brazil - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

5

What brought you to Brazil? Where were you before?

My job, I'm an engineer and we specialize in inspection of onshore and offshore pipelines mostly. Also wind towers, dams, and other metal structures. Brazil is going through an economic boom at the moment, (I don't know how legit it is) so there is a lot of growth and development.

Describe the city you live in in Brazil.

I have lived in several. Natal and Fortaleza mostly. They are coastal cities that can be considered more on the touristy side. Beautiful beaches and high rise buildings that line the coast. Vendors and shops everywhere, and plenty of live music and attractions.

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

Brazilians are pretty wonderful people as a whole. They are very inviting and easy to get to know. They enjoy having fun and relaxing and enjoying the simple things in life. There are also negative sides I would say, they are heavily unionized and go on strike on a moments notice over anything that bothers them. They love all sorts of music, I have been surprised at their love for rock and roll and the diversity of mainstream...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

4

What brought you to Japan? Where were you before?

Work and my (then)girlfriend/(now)wife. I was in America before coming here.

Describe the city you live in in Japan and your thoughts on it.

I live about 3 hours out from Tokyo in another prefecture. The pace of life isn't as fast as Tokyo and it's not as crowded so that's nice. It gets very hot and humid in the summer and very cold and dry in the winter.

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

Group harmony is a huge driving force in culture and behavior here. It can be a cause for incredible altruism, kindness, and warmth. But it can also cause a lot of stress, self-sacrifice, and shunning of people who aren't in the group. Things which might seem simple in other countries can be very complicated because the implications for the feelings and respect of everyone in a group must be considered. For a tourist, the Japanese can be very kind and well-mannered. For an expat, the Japanese can be very complicated and layered.

Was making friends and meeting people in Japan in general easy or difficult? How did your social life evolve? What did you do to...

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new zealand - anonymous' thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

2

I have been in New Zealand for just about 8 months. I came straight to Wellington. I turned 21 in NZ. Wellington is the windiest city in the world. I'm not sure how it's possible, but the wind blows from all directions. You could be walking into the wind, turn the corner, and still be walking into the wind. Coupled with the rain that happens more often than not, it makes for pretty miserable weather. The wind pierces through your clothes so it feels colder than it is and the houses are not insulated so there is no escaping the cold (even though it never reaches freezing temperatures).

The upside is there is a lot of creativity that springs forward from having to find ways to pass the time inside. It's the kind of city that always has a market or an art exhibit going on, people walk around sans shoes, and any time there's a sliver of sun, the entire population is hanging out by the water front. It's a capital city, but it feels more like a small village because you constantly see the same faces around you.

I moved to New Zealand on a bit of a whim. I had finished school in the US (specifically the midwest) and knew it was a perfect time to move. At first, I was thinking about a...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

4

What brought you to Japan? Where were you before?

As an undergraduate student, I felt a desire to "see the world" as it were, but my parents were helping pay for my education and I therefore I felt a responsibility to finish on time. I decided that after I finished my degree, I would try to fulfill this desire.

I had the fortune of taking Modern Japanese Literature with a really great professor my Junior year, at which time Japan took a particular focus. I would subsequently take Japanese Cinema and Japanese 101 before graduating, in part to prepare myself for living there.

As for where I was before, I went to school in Upstate NY.

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

I lived in a small town of a few thousand people called Mino, which was pretty rural and quiet. It joined together with 6 other local towns to form a city called "Mitoyo", which had decent geographic size but was sparsely populated (at least for Japan).

This town was actually located on the smallest of the four major islands of Japan, called Shikoku, and thus was somewhat disconnected from what a lot of people think of Japan, which is like Tokyo or Osaka.

Personally, I had actually...

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australia - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

3

What brought you to Australia? Where were you before?

I have been married/dating an Aussie for the last 16 years. I had been here previously 5 or 6 times.

Describe the part(s) of Australia you've lived in.

Sydney.

What are the the people of Australia like?

People of Australia are of virtually every variety very similar to the U.S. They are for the most part friendly and curious of my American accent.

Was making friends and meeting people in Australia easy or difficult?

Very easy. I have joined sports teams in Australia same as USA. My coworkers are very similar. No problems socially. Its very similar!

Has your race, nationality, gender, etc. ever affected how you were treated or how people reacted to meeting you in Australia?

White male...no problems.

Were there any language barriers? How did they affect you?

Everyone here talks funny and is in denial about it. They just mangle the English language with impunity. :)

Any social/cultural advice for others who might come to Australia? How do people in Australia socialize differently than other places you've been?

Australia is very heavily regulated (bordering on nanny state), but it is very heavily geared...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/08/13.

6

How much time have you spent in Japan?

I am currently on my 7th year of living in Japan

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

I moved to Japan after college, and have been living in Japan since, minus a year where I moved back to the United States.

What brought you to Japan?

While in college I was studying martial arts and developed an interest in Japanese culture. So when it came time to study abroad, I chose to study abroad in Japan and see what the country was all about. While on my study abroad, I was introduced to a teaching English in Japan program called the JET program. I like to call this a snowball effect, as I slowly fell down the rabbit hole and decided to do a year abroad after college…. 7 years later, and I am still here.

Describe the city you live in in Japan.

I currently live in a small city in Gunma prefecture about 2 hours outside of Tokyo, and have been living there for a little over a year. Because of my current proximity to Tokyo, I feel it might be better to talk about where I originally lived when I came to Japan.

When I originally moved to Japan, I was living in Kanazawa, in Ishikawa prefecture which is on the Japan Sea...

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israel - anonymous' reflections after years there in their teens

posted by anonymous on 10/07/13.

3

I've been in Israel about 6 years. My father was 6 years old when Israel was founded. He's always been a Zionist and had dreamt of moving to Israel for most of his life. That dream starting to become a reality with his visits in the lated 90's. We finally decided to make the jump in 2007.

I grew up in Netanya. It's known as a crime city here in Israel and it is definitely a rough town. I had many different racial groups to grow up around. Between the immigrants from the former USSR countries and the Ethiopians, plus the French, I got a taste of different kinds of cultures. Netanya has a number of inviting beaches. I really miss my neighborhood there.

Two years ago my family and I moved to Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee. The cost of living in Netanya was getting to high for our family, so my parents decided to move to Tiberias. We had some family friends there, and it was on the Sea of Galilee. Tiberias is such a different city from Netanya. I can't really say it's my home yet. It's a tourist town, with many christian groups visiting all year round.

For the next year I'm going to be living in Nahariya. Once we finish highschool here in Israel we have to serve in the IDF. Men...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/04/13.

8

I studied abroad in Buenos Aires for 5 months and then returned for an additional 2 years. So almost 2 ½ years in total. When I went there to study abroad I wanted to study Spanish. I had already been to Spain and Mexico and wanted to try something different. Argentina was far, exotic, I knew almost nothing about it, and there were a lot of study abroad programs located in there. I gave it a shot and I loved it.

After I graduated college, I returned to teach English. I wasn’t sure how long I planned on staying, I thought maybe a year at most. I ended up staying 2 years. And I really only came back to the US because I missed my family and having legal status (being able to open bank accounts, cell phone accounts, work legally, etc…)

Buenos Aires is a major metropolitan city. It sits at the mouth of a river delta. The weather is very temperate. Hot and humid in the summer, chilly in the winter (but rarely below freezing). It is huge, and sprawling. The 3rd largest city in Latin America in fact.

It has a downtown (the location of the obelisk) with large buildings but very few true skyscrapers. The architecture is influenced by French, Spanish and Italian buildings from the...

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

posted by anonymous on 10/04/13.

4

I arrived in Santiago in Feb of 2011 and have been here for almost 3 years. I wanted an opportunity to travel and see different parts of South America. I was adopted from Paraguay and decided Chile was a good place to go as they are in need of English teachers and have a steady economy.

It was not what I expected. I thought it would be "dirtier" than it actually was. It's an incredibly large city that but is easy to get around. The metro is very user friendly and extremely clean. The people are OBSESSED with eating bread which I was surprised to find out because everyone is fairly thin.

I think there are 3 classes of people in Chile. The "Flaites" are the US version of "ghetto." They use poor language, dress "gangster," and the guys pluck their eyebrows. They are considered a lower class and not very well respected. On the other end are the "Cuico" people. They don't look like they are typical "Chileans" They look very European and have a lot of money. The people in the middle don't really fit in with Flaites of Cuicos and instead I guess would be considered the "middle class."

I've been to many other countries and here....if you are darker, you are considered "poor," and...

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prague, czech republic - kevinmeng1's (m/29/united states) thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by kevinmeng1 on 10/03/13.

2

I woke up every day at 6...then hit the snooze button until 6:10. after two more presses of the snooze button, I got out of bed at 6:30 and began rushing to get ready to leave by 7.

I would sit in traffic as I made my way through the eastern reaches of the New York City area(or the tri-state as it's called by locals).

I would drive 30 miles to work and stay in that office from 8-430. You know, the usual BS that you have to do: Make phone calls, research new products, file away endless paper work, write emails.

Not physically taxing, but certainly a drain on my mental abilities.

By the time I reached home in southwestern Connecticut, I was dead tired.

In America you are taught that your best use to society is to work.

50+ hour weeks weren't uncommon for me.

We had a nice condo with a nice new kitchen, a dog and cat, cable television, my girlfriend drove an SUV, and I had some money in the bank.

A nice life by any means.

I just didn't want it.

It began to weigh heavy on my relationship with my girlfriend.

We just needed out.

We were talking about living in an exotic place where we were the foreigners, where we lived a simpler life, and didn't care about money so...

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the united arab emirates - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 40s

posted by anonymous on 10/02/13.

5

What brought you to Abu Dhabi? Where were you before?

I was in Phoenix, AZ. I work for a consulting firm that had an offer with a company here, and after a little research, I took it.

Describe your impressions of Abu Dhabi.

Clean and affluent. There's desert here outside of the cities, but the cities themselves are very green.

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

Only around 17% percent of the population of the UAE is Emirati. The rest are expatriates. A lot of the workers for lower-end jobs come from countries I hadn't had any dealings with before (Syria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, etc.)

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

It was generally easy. The American and European contingent usually live in the same areas of town, and the company I work with put everyone up in the same place, so there's a lot of socialization with people you work with. The apartment groupings are usually geared towards people from the same regions, so it's easy to meet people.

Has your race, nationality, gender, etc. ever affected how you were treated or how people...

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