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Malgosia: Margarita Felis

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in the UK makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Great Britain, etc.

My name in Polish is Małgosia, although I am known as Margarita, which stands for Małgosia/Małgorzata in Spanish. I instinctively translated my name when I went to live abroad for the first time.

I am originally from Poland, but have been living in several different countries for over 13 years now. I moved to Brighton back in 2006, lived here for over two years, moved out, to eventually come back at the end of 2010. It sums to 5 years in Brighton.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

The idea of blogging was in my head for many months now, but I implemented it just over 2 weeks ago. I decided to start blogging as I wanted to share my overall life experience, views and observations that I am constantly making. I also would like to provoke people to think about certain practical and common matters from a different angle.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

My favourite entries are about Cultural (In)Tolerance as it’s a challenging topic and I like the challenge. I believe that it touches the subject that most of expats want to deny; concentrating on cons of living in a certain country but not doing much about it. It took me some time to put “it all together”. I decided to admit that I had this issue too and wanted to explain what it can cause and that it is not as bad as it seems to be.

The other one is about how I learned foreign languages. It contains an explanation but with fun and a bit of history of my early expat life.

Glasgow is fun is my personal, sentimental and touristic recommendation of this city. I started my expat life in the UK in Glasgow and I wanted to describe this unforgettable moment in this post.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Great Britain differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

My life in Brighton is totally different from life I led back home, also in all other countries I previously lived. This will be because, when I left Poland, I was only 19 years old. As I grew up, I lived in different countries and my circumstances have also been changing. Perhaps due to this I did not experience any culture shock when I moved to Brighton. I feel very free here and I can truly enjoy life, as this city has lots to offer. It is a special place.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Great-Britain? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I was definitely fully prepared when moving to Brighton for the first time. Unfortunately, when I came back to here in 2010 after living in Germany and other parts of the UK, the situation regarding employment had significantly changed and I struggled a bit to build my life back in Brighton. I looked for work for 5 months, which I have not expected to happen. Looking back, perhaps I could have prepared myself for lack of opportunities due to economic climate.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

I think there are mostly language misunderstandings that make lots of situations funny. I speak English well, but sometimes I seem to muddle up. Once I wanted to say to my friend that I will “give him a beer”, but somehow I said “I will give you a bear”… He replied: “Please don’t give me a bear… I got enough on my head”!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Great Britain?

  • Be prepared that the life costs in Brighton are almost equivalent to those in London (proportionally rent and food), but the wages are far away from those in London. There are not many executive jobs here, and unless you are successfully self employed you might need to compromise high financial expectations if you have those.
  • As mentioned already, accommodation is very expensive and the standard of it is lower than in most parts of the UK. Unless you are prepared to pay above the average Brighton rent rate you might find it difficult to find a decent place to live. Bear that in mind.
  • Explore the area. Brighton has lots to offer in terms of social and cultural life. However its surroundings are full of lovely spots to visit. In fact, the prices of accommodation drop once travelling outside of the town. If you have a car you could live in the nearby villages, so that you can have both; Brighton buzz and the countryside, possibly at lower costs.

How is the expat community in Great Britain? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community in Brighton is massive and full of potential. With regards to Brighton InterNations community, we are relatively new but already manage to strengthen our ties. There are regulars who enjoy our get togethers and we also meet spontaneously. Quite a few good friendships have been created from those encounters. I personally did not have any issues with finding like-minded people here. The only down side of Brighton social life could be that most people we make friends with are either foreign or non local British, so they come and go. I got used to it already, that I meet a great person who becomes my friend and in one year time or so she/he leaves…

How would you summarize your expat life in Great Britain in a single, catchy sentence?

Inspiring, vibrant and joyful.

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

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