Petite Adventures is a space for me to share my life abroad – whether that’s navigating the expat life in Madrid or Leeds or exploring and experiencing a different place while travelling.
Every so often I like to hand the mic over to someone else who’s chosen a life abroad, to share their perspective, their experiences, their likes and dislikes of living in a different land. Today, I’m passing the mic over to Erin Reki, a Brit who’s spent time living in Nepal and currently calls Australia home.
Tell me about yourself.
Hello! I’m Erin Reki. I’m from England, I’ve lived in and travelled several countries and am currently on my working holiday visa in Australia! I’m not overly adventurous, I prefer to paint or go trekking rather than do any extreme sports. That’s not to say I don’t love leaving my comfort zone! I just love finding lovely little places to chill out. Road trips and boat trips are more my thing than say skydiving! I spend a lot of my time drawing little cartoons about my travels and the people I meet along the way.
Tell me about your living abroad experience(s).
My first big trip away from home was in 2010 for three months. This was huge considering I had never been away for that long on my own before! I was sent to Nepal to live with a host family in a small village called Sirutar in the Kathmandu Valley. It was very basic and simple. Most of the work there was centred around farming as it was a rural area. The families I lived with were so accommodating and a pleasure to be around. I had to share my room with another English girl who was on the same volunteer trip and although we were never BFF’s she was quite easy to live with! Kathmandu city was a long and crowded bus journey away so we spent most of our time in the village and surrounding area. There are some nice mini treks you can do on the weekend around there. I’ve been back there, Nepal and Sirutar twice more since and am currently planning my fourth trip back!
What attracted you to the idea of living abroad?
At the time of my first trip, I was still a student with very little money to spare. I had spent months researching how to travel for free and started applying for every opportunity that came up! The volunteer trip was Government funded and when I was accepted into it I was happy and scared beyond belief! So my short answer was my desperation to travel and leave England would be what led me to live abroad. Since then it’s just developed into a love for slow travel. I’d rather live in a country and get a feel for it as a local rather than just fly through. But who knows I might do a quick trip through Europe next year just to get a taste for that too!
Why did you decide on that city/country?
Actually, I didn’t decide the country, my location was chosen for me! In this volunteer project you didn’t get to choose which country you would be sent to, so I stumbled into Nepal by a happy accident. I had to check the globe when I found out. I didn’t even know where Nepal was!!
What is the best part of living there?
The best part? Maybe being able to go from the peaceful simplicity of the rural areas to the roaring chaos of Kathmandu city streets! You could never get bored here! There’s just so much to take in everywhere, the sights, the smells, the colours, the culture. Plus, let’s not forget the obvious, Nepal has the Himalayas! The numerous public holidays and festivals during the lunar year are a perfect excuse to take time off to wander through some of nature’s most spectacular places!
What is one thing you’d change?
The internet speeds! Just joking! I can live without it but it is frustrating when it takes an hour to upload 4 photos to Facebook. My serious answer would be the level of poverty in the country. Nepal is still a developing country and so it still has a lot of issues. My partner and I always try to do a bit of fundraising for the charity Chhahari Nepal before we visit.
Best food and where can we find it?
Anyone who has been to Nepal will rave about the momos! They are pretty much anywhere and everywhere! I especially love the veggie momos. Oh! And if you can find the spinach veggie momos then well done! They are amazing! Make sure you get the dipping sauces!
What do you wish you’d known before you moved abroad?
I wish someone had told me how much patience I’d need and to try and be more open-minded and accepting. The culture is so different, I experienced huge culture shock and sometimes things upset me or made me angry. The best advice I got was from the supervisor ‘Don’t compare, adapt.’ Once I learned this I was definitely more accepting and had some really great times. The best times I had were just bonding with the other volunteers, the locals and families I lived with. Especially our shopping trips, clothes making sessions and rooftop picnic parties!
Is there anything you miss from home?
Obviously my friends and family, especially my lovely little lion Leon. Not all the animals here are domesticated and friendly. It’s sometimes better to be safe than sorry and stay away from wandering animals. Or at least get your rabies jabs first!
What is the one piece of advice you’d share with someone interested in moving/living abroad?
The same advice that my supervisor gave to me. “Don’t compare, adapt.” And just as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If you spend your time comparing your new home to your old one you won’t appreciate it for what it is! You’ll just spend your time complaining about what it isn’t!
Always try and make an effort to learn a little bit of the language, local history and etiquette either before or whilst you’re there. Showing an interest in someone else’s country is not only polite but a great conversation starter. I still remember a few Nepali words and phrases which make me smile!
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