This is his expat story.
Tell us about your expat move.
My expat move has been quite an experience. Over the past 5 years, I've studied and worked in 5 different cities across 3 countries. Funnily enough, life has managed to show me one extreme weather condition to the other. I grew up in Jaipur, India, which by many standards, is one of the hottest places one could live at. Temperatures can reach 45C (113F) on hot summer days.
In 2013, I relocated to Rochester, USA to study for my MBA. Rochester is a lovely city located near Niagara Falls, upstate NY, but, by many standards, is one of the coldest places on the planet! Winter days could easily reach -20C (0F), and the place sees 6-8 months of snow regularly.
As if that wasn’t enough, I now work in Glasgow, UK, where sunny days are far and few between. So much so, I am never short of small talk stories now. Looking forward to what's next!
What did you find were the best ways of making friends as an expat abroad?
I got married in 2016, but because of our work situations my wife and I have stayed apart since then. So, I explored many different avenues to make friends at places that I stayed at. In Glasgow, I've been a regular at local meet-ups.
Meet-ups are very active in Glasgow, and I've managed to find a lot of folks with similar interests and have kept myself sufficiently occupied outside of work. Similar avenues existed when I was in London for a project for 11 months. International groups such as Internations exist in most major cities, and are a great way of meeting and networking with fellow expats.
What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat journey so far?
The biggest highlight has certainly been my exposure to travelling. I didn’t appreciate the experience until very recently. My wife and I need to travel a lot to see each other more often.
Instead of me going to Vienna, where Neha is currently based, or Neha coming to Glasgow, we decide upon a place somewhere in between to meet over a weekend. This way we get to see each other and explore a new city/town/country together.
I’ve managed to visit 26 different countries in the past few years, and developed a deep sense of appreciation for different cultures, cuisines, architectures, and local habits.
What have been some of the biggest challenges so far?
Every place that I relocated to presented unique challenges and enriched my experiences so far. To mention a few:
- Taking a driving test in the US, when I had always driven on the other side of the road. Not to mention the automatic cars.
- Getting acclimatised to changing climate conditions.
- Getting used to the local language and accent. 3 years on and I still struggle with Glaswegian accent sometimes.
- Missing my family back home.
What do you miss about your home country?
I miss my home, my family and friends back home and certainly miss the food! I might be biased, but I think there's no match for Indian cuisine!
How much do you enjoy your role in Cigna?
As a member of the Financial Development Program, I've really enjoyed the rotational aspect of my job at Cigna. I am in my 3rd rotation right now, and absolutely love my current role working at Global IPMI.
Global IPMI is a small and nimble business, with lots of opportunities to take responsibilities outside of your job description. I've learned and developed a gamut of skills in this role. Not to mention, the folks at Cigna are tremendous to work with! You guys surprise me every single day!
What advice would you give to those who are considering making an expat move?
Get outside of your comfort zone and just go for it! It would open a whole world of new opportunities and experiences for you.
What would be the one piece of advice you wish you’d known before moving?
Try to make a couple of acquaintances before you move. It will help make your transition into a new place a whole lot smoother.
Finally, how would you describe your expat journey in 10 words or less?
It's about taking up the challenge and savouring the journey!