Who are you?
My name is Liz. I am 29 years old, I am French and I teach French as a foreign langage.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Kuwait in August 2015.I was struggling to find a job in Paris. Moving abroad wasn’t really in my plan but I couldn’t find a proper job. I was teaching a few hours per week and I wasn’t earning a proper salary. So I applied to positions all around the world and Le Lycée Français de Koweit called me. They needed someone in Kindergarten so now, I am a teacher in KG2.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I think it was the language. At this point, my English was so so so bad and I didn’t speak one word of Arabic.
Also, I moved from my parents’ house to Kuwait. I had to learn how to live alone as fast as possible. I have to mention the loneliness at the beginning too. I didn’t know anyone and I was alone for the first time in my life, unable to talk to people outside because my level of English was so bad.
To be honest, I think at the beginning, everything was a challenge. Even the weather! It was 47 degrees celsius outside the first day I arrived in Kuwait.
Are there many other experts in your area?
In Kuwait, there are more expats than Kuwaitis themselves. So, yes, there are a lot of expats. But the French community is quite small and I decided to live abroad partly because I want to see something else than the “French way of life”.
What do you like about life where you are?
I like the fact that everything is easy (except administration). In Kuwait life is easy, there is a way for everything you want. And if it doesn’t exist, you can just create it. For example, one of my friend’s friends just started a “pet taxi”. If you need to take your dog for grooming and you don’t have time, you just call her and she will take care of everything and bring back your dog. There is a solution for everything.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I think I don’t like to be an “expat”. The government tries to make expats’ life harder. For example, it took me two months to get my Civil ID and six months to get my driving license. Every year, I have to renew my driving license. Kuwaitis don’t have the same experience with administration.
And I don’t like to feel stuck somewhere. Living in Kuwait is like living on an island (without the island lifestyle). The borders are closed for me (Iraq and Saudi) so if I want to see something else, I have to take the plane. When I was in Paris, I just had to drive 1h30 to enjoy the countryside!
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
In Kuwait, there is no individuality. It’s always about the family or group of friends. The family’s reputation is really important in Kuwait, so young Kuwaitis have to be really really careful about everything they do in Kuwait because it can affect the whole family! If, as a woman, you date a Kuwaiti man and his mom doesn’t accept it… most of the time, your Kuwaiti boyfriend will follow his mum, not what he really wants.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
You can find everything in Kuwait ! Except alcohol and pork 😉 But there is every kind of food. If I feel homesick, I can go easily to a French restaurant. If I want junk food, I can find everything.
The good part is: most of the restaurants have a delivery service… as for drinks, there are a lot of coffee shops and smoothie places.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Don’t try to find what you had in your home land! Kuwait is so different, you have to find a new routine and new habits. If you try to have the same life as before, you will only be really sad. To enjoy life in Kuwait, you have to take the country how it is.
What are your plans for the future?
For now, I will stay in Kuwait… I have a two-year residency, so I might stay here for two more years. After that, I dont know. Kuwait is really comfortable and I think I am too young to stay here forever 🙂
You can keep up to date with Liz's adventures on her blog, Liz In Kuwait.
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