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Simon, Napier

Who are you?

I’m a languages teacher from the UK prone to wandering the globe rather than settling down.I’ve lived in Spain, France, China and now New Zealand. If you like, you can catch more of the adventures on my blogs… Warning, contains a lot of nonsense!

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I have just moved to New Zealand in August 2019, having spent some time getting more qualifications and teaching in the UK. I decided to have a change of scenery because I use travel to see how other people do things, and spending time teaching in a new environment and system will be great for seeing how the big Kiwis school their Lil’ Kiwis. It’s also a great way of funding your travels if you don’t have much cash!

What challenges did you face during the move?

The paperwork in any country is always a pain, but getting myself certified in New Zealand as a registered teacher is time-consuming and costly. Beats the time that I was in China and I had an ultrasound “to check if there’s a baby inside”, though.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

Napier, a city in the east of New Zealand, has lot of agriculture, and so many migrant workers and backpackers come here to work seasonally. There is a good proportion of expats here, but with a big percentage of Kiwis and a higher than average proportion of Maoris, it’s a good place to really get stuck into a new way of life.

What do you like about life where you are?

Hawke’s Bay is the fruit basket of New Zealand and a big producer generally. So, there’s lots of great local food for keen cooks and the outdoorsy life is pretty good here, too, for people who love sport I’d really recommend it. Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, and was rebuilt in an Art Deco style, so the buildings are amazing and the whole city has a 20s feel.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

In general, it’s really important to get an active social life anywhere you visit but, being from the UK, home is a long way without a good group of friends around you, and that can be hard to do in the early weeks! Napier is also quite a small city, so finding plenty to do is in your hands!

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

Cars. Driving. Everywhere. It almost seems novel plodding down the road under your own stream as NZ is very much a driving nation. Don’t think I’ll get used to that properly, but it looks like the done thing.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

The food is so fresh and Hawke’s Bay has a Mediterranean-esque climate, meaning that the region can grow pretty much anything, from root vegetables to citrus fruits. There aren’t any stand-out “oh yeah” dishes from NZ in general, but the Maori way of life and approach to hunting and cooking is a fascinating insight into another culture’s relationship with the land which they work.

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

Make yourself a checklist of things that are important to you and your worries when travelling (everyone’s will be different)! If at any point you can tick off all your checklist, then you’re ready to go. You’re probably set on travelling, so work out the practicalities and just be brave. Booking a flight can focus the mind!!! New Zealand is really friendly, safe and there’s lots of jobs, so it could be a good place to start!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m about to have a sandwich in a bit, but after that I don’t know. More of the same? Return to the UK? Get in touch if you have any suggestions, please.

Keep up to date with Simon’s adventures on his blogs, Crashing A Bike In China and Crashing A Bike In India.

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