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Stella English, Kuala Lumpur

Who are you?

My name is Stella English, Born Kenyan-Nigerian and an Irish national.I spent most of my childhood between Africa and Europe.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We left Ireland in 2003 to Singapore for my husband’s job working for an American earthmoving equipment company. I was 6.5 months pregnant.

What challenges did you face during the move?

We were lucky the company organised practically everything. We had a folder with all the information we would require. Being pregnant and our first move overseas, my main worry was finding a good doctor and hospital. Luckily for us, Singapore was our first move as expats.

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How did you find somewhere to live?

The company my husband worked for had a realtor who met up with us the first week we arrived with a list of properties to view.

Are there many other expats in your area?

Yes there are many expats, it’s one of the well-known areas for expats. Our decision was based on proximity to an international school and other amenities.

What do you like about life where you are?

Currently in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, after living in 13 countries; I love the blend of cultures and diversity here. The fact that there is no language barrier as most people speak English.

Malaysia is a beautiful country. There is so much to explore, in two hours I can be in Cameron Highlands which has beautiful nature and cooler weather and of course BOH tea! There is something for everyone. Malaysia is blessed with beautiful beaches and rainforest.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

What I dislike most is packing up and moving to a new country, leaving friends behind and on to a new challenge. Things are different now with social media we can stay in touch.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Their lack of maintainance culture, lack of organisation.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

I have a great relationship with the locals. I’m a firm believer that to settle in quickly, your first step is get to know the locals. If you want to understand the culture and appreciate any country you find yourself in the world, start with the taxi drivers, you’d be amazed what you will learn, they are a trove of information.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country?

I love the food here, the different cultures means you have a lot to choose from. My favourite is Nasi Lemak. No other Asian country has Nasi Lemak, it’s delicious!

What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Their nonchalant attitude and disregard for law, especially on the roads. Malaysia boleh as they say.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

I like a quote by Fitzhugh Mulla – ” Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.”

Always have an open mind and be ready for a global experience. There will always be issues and culture shocks, don’t let that deter you. No country is perfect. It’s a great opportunity for you, and your family. Get plugged into groups or start a group that suits your needs. There are so many resources out there. And don’t only live in your expat bubble; reach out, get to know the locals, learn the language.

I found that most new expats come with the expectation that everything has to be as it is back home. They make life difficult for themselves by looking for the same products as back home, when there are good alternatives available.

And bear in mind you will have moments when you question your decisions. Hang in there, the best is yet to come.

What are your plans for the future?

My future plans? Probably America next. And in a few years back to Europe.

Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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