Eleanor Montgomery is the the Editorial Lead for Cigna Global Wellbeing Solutions.
This is her expat story.
Tell us about your expat move.
I studied French and Spanish at university in the UK. I did my year abroad in Bilbao in Spain, moved back to Leeds to finish my degree and work for a year, and then moved to Barcelona.
I originally went with a six-month contract, and ended up staying for five years.
At the end of 2015, I decided I needed a change, so after travelling in South America for five months, I started job hunting in Spain again, and moved to Madrid in December 2016.
What did you find were the best ways of making friends as an expat abroad?
I’ve made quite a few close friends through mutual friends, who have put me in touch when I’ve moved. Other people who have lived away from home understand what it’s like to move somewhere where you don’t know a soul and are normally happy to introduce you to anyone they know there.
I have also met people through work, and through language exchanges, hobbies and sports – including a netball club in Madrid.
What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat journey so far?
Having the rest of Spain on my doorstep has been amazing. I’ve seen small towns and parts of the Spanish countryside that I wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t live here.
I’ve also met people from all over the world, partly from working in international companies, which is an incredible experience.
What have been some of the biggest challenges so far?
Being away from my family is an obvious one. And having to put into practice the Spanish I learnt at university in a professional setting was another big one when I first moved to Barcelona. I had to just go for it – if I didn’t have conversations, ask questions, and communicate, I couldn’t do my job, which obviously wasn’t an option!
What do you miss about your home country?
Good salt and vinegar crisps!
How much do you enjoy your role in Cigna?
I really enjoy creating content, coordinating projects, and leading the editorial team. I like having projects that I can get my teeth into, and seeing them through from the first planning stages to completion. I also enjoy working with other teams on shared initiatives.
What advice would you give to those who are considering making a move?
If you think the culture and the way of life suits you, go for it! When you get there, sign up to do things you enjoy, walk the streets, get lost and get to know the place, and say yes to every invitation you get.
What one be the one piece of advice you wish you’d known before moving?
That it gets easier! That the initial period when I didn’t know anyone, was adjusting to a different lifestyle, and had a seemingly never-ending mountain of paperwork to sort out, was temporary, and that soon I’d feel more at home in my adopted country than anywhere else.
Finally, how would you describe your expat journey in 10 words or less?
The best decision I ever made.
International Health Insurance
Expats often opt for private healthcare and it’s important to have this arranged before moving country.
At Cigna Global, we provide plans that are specifically designed for expats just like you, ensuring that you have access to a range of different options, and 24/7 support where and when you need it.
You can also rely on our many years of experience in looking after the health and well-being of our customers.