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 Irene Corchado Resmella, serial expat who spent time living all over Europe before settling down in Oxford, UK.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Irene and I am originally from Spain, although I have been living in the UK for 5 years now. I come from the offbeat (and often overlooked) region of Extremadura, but I live in Oxford. I am a freelance professional translator, specialising in legal and sworn translation, content writer and travel blogger. I’m a Russophile, a cheese addict (and coriander hater) and a spy novels lover. I am a serial expat with zero sense of orientation, but able to communicate in five languages.
Tell me about your living abroad experience(s).
The first time I got on a plane I was 19 already, but since then, I have not stopped travelling. I have spent about 9 years abroad in total. My first big solo experience abroad was in Tallinn, Estonia as an Erasmus student. In 2006 I started spending my summers in Ireland working in different roles and in 2007 I moved to Saint Petersburg to continue my studies for a semester. After a few more summers in Ireland I decided to move to Dublin in 2009, but after only a year life took me to Riga, Latvia, where I also spent a year combining an office job with my translation activity. Things did not work out very well and in 2011 I moved to the UK.
What attracted you to the idea of living abroad?
My love for languages and my curiosity about other countries. I always envied fellow classmates who could afford to go abroad for holidays or were lucky enough to receive a scholarship for a language course during the summer. When I started my degree in Translation and Interpreting I was decided to go abroad at the first opportunity. And it arrived soon. I applied for an Erasmus grant during my first year at university! I remember being one of the youngest students in my destination.
Why did you decide on that city/country?
I chose Tallinn as an Erasmus destination because it was exotic and would give me the chance to visit somewhere I would not have considered otherwise.
The decision to move to the UK came from a lack of career prospects in Latvia. I did not have anywhere specific in mind to move to, but the UK seemed like a good idea at the time. And five years on, I am still here :).What is the best part of living there?
One of the good things about moving to the UK was the lack of a big cultural shock (which I had when moving to Russia, for example). I like the fact of being very close to London, with direct connections to anywhere in the world. I love Oxford because it is a small city, but very lively. It is close to London but is not London (I am happy to have left the horrible commute, crazy prices and fast-paced lifestyle behind). There is always something going on, and there are amazing libraries, coffee shops and restaurants.
What is one thing you’d change?
The only thing I would change (the weather) is unchangeable!
Best food and where can we find it?
There are some very good places to eat in Oxford. The White Rabbit is great for pizzas, and French restaurant Pierre Victoire is one of my favourite places. For a special occasion go to Acanthus, the restaurant at the Macdonald Randolph hotel (you are welcome :)).What do you wish you’d known before you moved abroad?
Nothing, really. I do not think anything would have made me change my mind about moving here. I am a ‘Why not? Let’s try it!’ person.
Is there anything you miss from home?
After being abroad for this long you would expect to be used to the bad weather, but I do miss the Spanish weather a bit, especially in autumn, when it is still warm in Spain, but already grim and cold in the UK. I also miss the Spanish more social lifestyle and outdoors culture. That said, I am not sure Spain is home any more than the UK is. Serial expats often end up feeling not 100% at home anywhere.What is the one piece of advice you’d share with someone interested in moving/living abroad?
Take people’s advice with a pinch of salt. The fact that someone found it hard to find a job or to adapt to the local lifestyle does not mean it will be hard for you. Everyone’s different, so do not be discouraged (nor overenthusiastic) about moving to a city or country where someone you know moved to. Be realistic, set goals and always have an emergency fund you can use to buy a flight back if things do not go according to plan.
A huge thank you to Irene for sharing her experiences as a serial expat. You can follow Irene at www.piggytraveller.com, on Twitter (@PiggyTraveller and @ICRtranslations), Instagram, Facebook (PiggyTraveller and ICRTranslations) and Pinterest.
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