Country of origin: UK
Country of Residence: Japan
Caroline is married with three children. Having lived in the UK all her life, she and her family recently relocated to Tokyo, Japan.
We asked her a few questions to gain an insight into her experiences as an expatriate.
Is this your first time living abroad?
Yes, although I had visited many countries on holiday, this is the first time I’ve actually lived in a foreign country for an extended period of time, this coming November will mark our second year in Japan. We’ve developed a sense of familiarity in our new home and are very comfortable, but some days it still feels as if we’ve only just arrived as there is so much to see and do.
What made you embark on an expat adventure, and why did you choose your destination?
Well, as I am the mother of a young family, my choice to move abroad came about from my husband being offered a job abroad with his existing company. Of course, it was a family decision but the chance to experience a new culture along with a greater financial package was far too good to turn down.
What were your expectations when first travelling abroad?
We originally left with no great expectations, we went as a family with an open mind. Of course we had heard that Japanese culture is very different to that in the west, so we prepared ourselves for a significant culture shift, which is exactly what we got. Not to say that isn’t a good thing!
What have your best experiences been?
Experiencing Japan has been the greatest aspect of the move. Discovering a new culture drastically different to the one we knew has been a revelation, for myself, my husband and especially our children, who adore the bright lights and colourful shops of the Harajuku area.
What parts of the move have you found to be the most challenging?
Initially, we all suffered from culture shock and homesickness, which we realised was completely natural. Getting to grips with a new area is always tough, let alone a new country. But after about a month or so we started to become more adventurous and began to embrace our new surroundings. Now, we have many friends and favourite places we like to visit, and the Japanese people have been very welcoming.
How have you managed your finances while abroad?
Since we left the UK completely, my husband and I decided to close our bank accounts and exclusively bank offshore, as there are a number of benefits in doing so as expatriates.
What advice would you give to families who are embarking on a similar expat journey?
I would say to keep an open mind at all times, prepare for some tough times but also know that you will soon settle down once the initial rush dies down. Most of all I will remind them to support each other and be patient if things are not instantly enjoyable.