CC2go: Sabrina, tell us a bit about yourself! Things like where are you from, how did you start traveling, the places you’ve lived and worked, the jobs you’ve had, and what you are doing now.
Sabrina: So, where to start. My name is Sabrina and I am originally from Sweden, however, I have lived abroad for about 7 years now. Since a young age, I’ve been interested in other countries, cultures, and languages. My life abroad started with a scholarship to study in China and I, therefore, spent one year in Shanghai between 2010-2011. After that I came back to Sweden and stayed for about a year, I had 5 different jobs – teaching Chinese, tourist consultant at Stockholm Tourist Centre, waitress, Zumba instructor, and kindergarten teacher – as I wanted to save up some money before moving to London, as well as taking my driver’s license.
I started practising yoga in 2014 and I think this really helped me deal with my stress about my messy life at the time. Living in a city I didn’t enjoy, being in a relationship with someone I didn’t want to be with, not liking the living conditions London had to offer… a lot of negative things affected my life and I knew that if I wanted to be happy, and live a life I enjoy, I needed to make a big change. So, in 2015 I made the best and hardest decision of my life. I moved to Budapest, ended my toxic relationship, started over fresh and found happiness.
CC2go: What made you decide to leave Sweden?
Sabrina: I think I’ve always felt that I didn’t fit into the Swedishness. I always had the desire for something more outside “the Swedish box”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sweden, my language, my friends and family, I am proud of our culture and traditions. Just living there feels boring for me, nothing happening. I seek adventures, difficulties, experiences, challenges, differences. When I live abroad, I feel like I can be myself fully.
CC2go: How did you decide where to move?
Sabrina: Well, at first I was really into moving to Germany. I got a summer job in Germany 2010, but then as I had my scholarship for China, I continued my journey abroad there. After that, I moved to London as it was a mutual decision between me and my ex-boyfriend. I ended up staying in London for almost 3 years, but I wasn’t feeling the London vibe, and I casually visited Budapest in 2014. I totally fell in love with the city, I felt home and I knew that I wanted to live there. I am still enjoying Budapest, however since my initial desire to live in Germany still has not been fulfilled, it is a country on the top of my list.
CC2go: What made you decide to move to a new country, then again to a new one etc?
Sabrina: I guess I had different reasons each time, mix of opportunity, convenience and desire.
CC2go: What did you find hardest regarding these changes to one place from another?
Sabrina: I consider myself as a quite open-minded person, I like to integrate into new societies and learn the ways as I go. I think the most difficult part in every country is the start where you have to get all the administrative stuff and formalities done, like registering your residency, opening a bank account, insurance, tax papers, GP, etc.
After that come possibly the cultural differences in your everydays, maybe things you are used to but are working differently. When you learn the local language, you learn about the culture and suddenly you have to learn how to act differently. That was a bit difficult for me, especially in China which is very different, but also here in Hungary, where I experienced that the formal side is very different. Like how you have to say hello/good day/good bye/thank you way more than I was used to.
CC2go: When arriving to a new country, how do you adapt, what is your “strategy” in general?
Sabrina: Well, I guess since I am very interested in languages, I want to learn the language of the country I am living in. This is of course not a must for anyone moving abroad, but I think it helps you understand the country and the people better, you integrate more easily. I like to have local friends, not just international ones. This way you also learn how things are working.
CC2go: And more specifically, what are the first, basic steps when starting to work in a new country?
Sabrina: Hm, well. As mentioned before, I try getting all the boring administrative and bureaucratic sides done from the start. Then it depends on how you have already adapted to the country, if you know people there or if you’re completely new to the city.
I did a lot of language exchanging in the beginning, and this way I got to know people. If you move to a new city for a job, you’ll hopefully have some friendly colleagues who will want to hang out outside work as well.
CC2go: How do you manage the professional-personal attitudes with colleagues, boss etc?
Sabrina: I think this entirely depends on where you are working, what the atmosphere is, how the company works and what your colleagues are like. If you are working in a multinational environment or if you end up at a company surrounded only by local people.
When I moved to Budapest I had the convenience of simply relocating from one office to another, as the company I used to work for in London had an office in Budapest as well. So for me it was simple as I already (kind of) knew the Budapest team, I would have the same bosses (in the UK) and do the same work. I recently (in August last year) changed my job, and I am now working for a start-up like company, in a young, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
CC2go: What was the biggest challenge you had to face, regarding the social aspects of your new life, when moving to a new country?
Sabrina: I think one of the hardest social aspects of starting a life in a new country is to find real friends. You can always get to know people and be “surface friends”, you hang out and do stuff, but it might require some planning ahead etc. I find it difficult to find the true friends, those you can talk about anything with, call anytime, have spontaneous meetups with. These kinds of friends take some time to find and filter out, as it takes time to get to know someone and open up fully (though I am a very open person). Often when I have finally managed to find such friends, they decide to leave the city or start their life elsewhere, perhaps because they are similar to me…
CC2go: What would you say is the most important thing for a person who is thinking about moving and working abroad?
Sabrina: I think an open mind is always important. If you are not open to differences and not willing to accept them, it will be hard for you. Even if certain things might be normal in your country it doesn’t mean it’s common practice where you decide to move. Get to know local people, that way you can get a more genuine feeling of the place. And if you’re crazy enough, try to learn the language!