Mimi: Love and Life in Nicosia
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Cyprus, etc.
My name is Mimi (that’s a nickname, my parents weren’t actually cool enough back in the 80’s to name me that) and I’m the brains behind Love and Life in Nicosia. I moved to Cyprus in October 2010 along with my boyfriend (he is half Cypriot) and 3 suitcases of clothes and treasured possessions, lived with granny for 1 month and somehow found my feet on this foreign island. I have lived in London my whole life and swapping rain and roast dinners for Greek salad and sunshine wasn’t such a hard choice in the end.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started my blog back in 2009 when I finished my Writing, Fashion and Culture Degree. I missed writing and working in retail didn’t leave much room for that. I didn’t really start blogging “seriously” shall we say until our move. The blog seemed like a great way to keep friends and family up to date and it meant I could continue writing as a hobby, whether it was about life in Cyprus, little fashion and beauty bits that caught my eye, or culture and music.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I think I have too many blog posts to have a favourite but some of the ones I enjoy looking back on are (and there is quite a mixture of content to choose from):
- Happy 2013
- The 2 sides of holiday depression
- The taste of Cyprus
- The Olympics v Graffiti
- Too Young. Too Skinny
- H&M and sustainable fashion
Tell us about the ways your new life in Cyprus differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Pretty much every aspect of life has changed since moving to Cyprus. In London I was working in retail, living with my father, spent weekends trying to find free things to do in London and watching my pennies run away from me, whilst dodging the unpredictable weather. In Cyprus, I have worked for a local company for the past 2 years on the international sales team, I have my own apartment, I have adopted a dog and I can spend weekends on the beach. For most part of the year, you can leave the house without an umbrella and the choice of food is never ending. The culture in Cyprus is so completely different to London that it is impossible to not experience culture shock and the language barrier has been a significant challenge. I think when you relocate to a new country, without a job and without friends, it can be incredibly challenging and also quite isolating. Loneliness is a feeling I experienced in abundance, but once I started working and made friends with a small but supportive group of people, the challenges of daily life seem a little easier to tackle. I think the change of culture can also knock your confidence a bit as everything can feel so unfamiliar, but the routines of everyday life soon take over and making it easier to feel settled.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Cyprus? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for everything life in a new country will throw at you. I had been to Cyprus many times on holiday, but the realities of everyday life are far from cocktails and beach days. The formalities of finding a place to live, finding work and navigating the governmental offices, as a foreigner, can be difficult. I was extremely lucky to have the support of family here, which made the process smoother. I wouldn’t necessarily change anything in terms of preparations, but learning basics of the local language and doing as much research as possible will no doubt be helpful.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Oh there are many hilarious happenings from the past few years, but I think most of them stem from the language barrier. It is surprising how many things get lost in translation and how the whole meaning of a conversation can be so easily misinterpreted. I think the funniest incident happened in my first few weeks here in Cyprus. I had to go register at the immigration office, where no one spoke English, or at least didn’t want to. Let’s just say the whole situation could have been something out of a comedy.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Cyprus?
- Make sure you can handle the heat; summer months are nothing but hot and humid and the heat can suck all life out of you. Even as someone who enjoys the sunshine and can handle her heat, I struggle in August to even function on a day to day basis.
- While many people speak English, especially among younger generations and even older ones knowing the basics, if you can get to grips with some basic Greek before you arrive, you will find the whole process of relocating a lot smoother.
- Do your research; research where you want to live, research possible jobs and line up interviews (I did this and it felt a lot more productive knowing that my first few weeks had some key appointments) research your immigration status and what documents you will need to apply for and research a few key places to visit, from supermarkets, to pharmacies and restaurants in the local area. Being informed before you arrive will help you settle in a lot quicker and feel less lost in those first few weeks.
How is the expat community in Cyprus? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are several expat communities in Cyprus in Limassol and Larnaca, but I live in Nicosia and found it very hard to locate expats here. Luckily I met several expats from different countries through working on the international team of a local company and it was easy to find common bonds, all being foreigners in this city. I was also able to meet a couple of expats through blogging which was wonderful and somewhat unexpected. Only recently I found communities like InterNations, which if I had been involved in when I first came to Cyprus would have made the whole process a lot easier.
How would you summarize your expat life in Cyprus in a single, catchy sentence?
Expat life in Cyprus is a mix of work, sunshine, meze, beach days and language barriers.