Friday, June 12, 2009

Ten ways I have had to Adapt in Gozo as an Expat.

If you move to another country to live, (in my case it was the Maltese Island of Gozo) all the books and articles tell you to make sure you spend as much time as possible in the community you intend to reside in before relocating. This is exactly what we did and we thought we were well prepared for the culture shock that was to follow, well take it from me however well prepared you think you are it will be a bigger shock to the system than you thought.

All that said here is my top ten ways I have had to adapt, as an expat on Gozo compared to busy old London in the UK.

  1. I am far more open minded now than I used to be, you quickly learn that because something is done a certain way in the UK, does not mean it is the best way or the only way.
  2. Grocery shopping here on Gozo takes place 3 or 4 times a week, this way you get the very freshest local produce. In the UK we used to shop once a week or once every 2 weeks if we could get away with it.
  3. The art of patience, I had to learn quickly to adapt from the not a spare minute, rush rush, horn blasting attitude of London life, to the van driver that stops his motor in the street to chat to a mate coming in the other direction while the cars patiently Que up behind until he has finished. (This one applies to Gozo, not so much Malta.)
  4. Talking to complete strangers, they just come up for a chat, you have never seen nor met them before, they simply want to pass the time of day.
  5. Humour, you have to learn to laugh especially when things go wrong, laughter is good there is a humorous situation to be found even when things get serious.
  6. In the UK if you get 2 weeks of non stop clear hot weather you probably love it and revel in it but it is not long before the gloom and misery return. Here in Malta and Gozo around this time we start moving into extreme temperatures and I am talking 35 - 40c + and overnight temperatures in the high 20s with no prospect of rain until September. Such prolonged spells of heat can become oppressive after several months with no relief. The things I have to put up with!
  7. Learning a new language, they all speak English here so we are not under any pressure to learn the local language but you miss out on so much if you don't make the effort, we understand no more than a few words and phrases, simply because it is one of the most difficult to learn, being a dialect of Arabic mixed with Italian. It is a long slow road but we are getting there.
  8. Courage - going to a new country is not for the “weak at heart”. You can be challenged daily with opposing views, and even isolation and loneliness. Knowing up front that you are courageous for choosing to go abroad can be a powerful reminder if your feeling down. How many of your friends and family would ever consider “up and moving” to another country, not many and lets face it, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
  9. As a gadget and computer geek in the UK I had got used to buying electrical goods at rock bottom prices, not so here, they simply can't shift the volumes of product that is possible in the UK so the mark ups are higher, much higher sometimes. Example a fridge freezer American style, here €1600.00 same model in the UK £850.00. weak sterling at the moment make matters a lot worse than they otherwise would be.
  10. Any physical work that needs to be done around the house like cleaning or repairs have to be completed by 11.00am in the summer months, after this time it is just too hot. So early starts to the day are a must.
Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative. H. G. Wells.


Karl said...

Great post :) I feel the same. its been 7 years now since I left London.

Steve Holmes said...

Only 1 year for me Karl, so still adjusting.