Expat

Fish out of water: expat bloggers interview series #4

Jaina at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland last year. It was nice to get out of Bahrain for a little bit and enjoy some winter weather.
Jaina at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland last year.

Hello everybody! I’m back with another expat blogger interview. Yes! I found Jaina at Time Well Spent through another blog and I immediately liked her site because it didn’t look like a lot of blogs I had been seeing lately, floating around the Internet. Seriously.

Her individuality was further confirmed when I saw her photos.

Spent some time “camping” in Bahrain. A one night stay on an almost palatial campsite. No sleeping though, you got to party through the night!
She spent some time “camping” in Bahrain. “A one night stay on an almost palatial campsite. No sleeping though, you got to party through the night!”

 

"Bahrain Fort - one of my favourite places to wander around. A UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the many forts dotted around Bahrain."
“Bahrain Fort – one of my favourite places to wander around. A UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the many forts dotted around Bahrain.”

Jaina is originally from London in the UK and is currently living in Bahrain – a tiny island in the Middle East. So, that is another reason why I find Jaina’s blog so interesting. Who wouldn’t want to know what life in Bahrain is like, right? Here she is:

"Me and my SO, taken the second weekend after I moved to Bahrain, on a trip to Al Dar Island. Summer had pretty much kicked in so it was perhaps a little too hot. Excuse the beach hair!"
“Me and my SO, taken the second weekend after I moved to Bahrain, on a trip to Al Dar Island. Summer had pretty much kicked in so it was perhaps a little too hot. Excuse the beach hair!”

// What other countries have you lived in and which ones do you want to live in next, if any?

The UK has been the one and only country I’ve lived in before moving to Bahrain. The first, and so far, only big move I’ve taken. I don’t know where I’d like to live next, but after making this one move to Bahrain, I feel like I’d be able to take up living (almost) anywhere!

// What do you like (and/or don’t like) about living abroad?

This is the fickle part of the answer – but it’s sort of cool, isn’t it? Come on, I can’t be the only expat who gets a weird thrill out of answering the question “So where do you live?” and then going through where they’re currently living and why. The other non-fickle part of the answer is that, as corny as it sounds, it’s been interesting just living somewhere else. Experiencing how another country is to live in. It just gives you that different perspective. Something I think is lost on many in the West. Oh and not forgetting the weather. Summer is a bit of a nightmare, when temperatures can be 45ºC (113ºF) some days. But this brutal summer lasts, maybe, 4-5 months of the year. The rest of the year the weather is nigh on perfect. No more winter clothes!

"Bahrain’s Saturday morning Farmer’s market, which takes place in winter, from December to June. It’s just too hot in the summer months."
“Bahrain’s Saturday morning Farmer’s market, which takes place in winter, from December to June. It’s just too hot in the summer months.”

// What do you find most different about living abroad?

Driving on the other side of the road took a little getting used to! There were many a clipped curb. I could see my SO grimacing in the passenger seat every time. Then there’s the sheer amount of people there are to do things for you. Labor is cheap. So we have the ironing done for us. Someone washes the car once a week. Last year when my brother was visiting, the lining of his suitcase tore apart. It would have cost his a few pounds and maybe a week to get that done in the UK. In Bahrain? 300fils (£0.80) and 24 hours was all they needed. Talking of money – getting used to that has been fun. In the beginning, I was constantly converting back to British Pounds just so I could get a feel for how much things cost.

// What do you miss about home (besides family and friends)?

The ability to just say “let’s go to the theatre/cinema/wander around London/go to a bar”. Bahrain’s a tiny island. It fits within the M25 in the UK. The majority of the population lives in the capital city, Manama, which is an even tinier section in the northern most part of the island. There’s not a whole lot to do here. The major past times include shopping and going out to eat. Yes there’s cinema, but I’m a bit of a film freak – some films are often censored here, and for this reason I just can’t bring myself to see anything in the cinema. Well, unless it’s an animated Pixar/DreamWorks film! There’s not much in the way of theatre or on-stage entertainment. I used to love seeing on-stage productions, comedy acts, gigs, you name it, in London. They’re few and far between in Bahrain. And then there are the bars. There are some nice bars here. But alcohol is inordinately expensive. There’s never usually a good range of drinks. So it’s a once every now and then thing we do, rather than regularly. Saying all of this, bit by bit, Bahrain is beginning to build up its events slowly. So maybe one day I won’t miss this aspect of living in London anymore.

"One of the views from home. Crammed full of villas."
“One of the views from home. Crammed full of villas.”

// Is there something you feel you have gained since becoming an expat?

For my whole life I never dreamt of moving out of London let alone the UK. I imagined I’d spend my whole life in that one city, and I was happy about that. Moving to Bahrain has given me a sense of confidence I guess I didn’t have back then. Knowing that I am now currently living in a whole other country, quite comfortably is refreshing. It’s given me that boost, knowing that if I had to move to another country, I’d be able to do it as well. Without batting an eyelash.

// What’s a day-in-the-life of you, look like?

Sadly, not all that interesting! I’m a at-home remote worker. Any typical working day (Monday – Friday) is spent in the spare bedroom, working from 10:30am – 7pm. After which I usually push myself to the gym, which is only a few floors above me in the apartment building. Followed by dinner and then bed. It’s not a glamorous life! Weekends are a bit more interesting, sometimes. We’ve spent a day on Al Dar Island, a tiny little spit of land with a beach, villas and bar/restaurant, gone go-karting at the brilliant track in Sakhir, spent evenings that go well into the wee hours of the mornings just sitting on our balcony sipping drinks with friends.

"Muharraq Souq on a quiet Sunday late morning. The mid-morning time when stalls are beginning to close. It’s a lovely time to wander around the souq if you’re not really into buying anything."
“Muharraq Souq on a quiet Sunday late morning. The mid-morning time when stalls are beginning to close. It’s a lovely time to wander around the souq if you’re not really into buying anything.”

// Are there any expat or travel bloggers you particularly enjoy? Who? Why?

Aside from you, of course, Lani! I’ve not actually delved to deep into expat bloggers. I’ll gladly take some recommendations though! Send me your way!

// What’s a question you wish interviewers would ask, but never have? (Then answer the question :))

What was the reaction of your friends and family after you told them you were moving to another country? For me there were mixed reactions. Everything from “Where’s Bahrain?” to excitement and happiness as well as concern. Warranted concern, I guess, due to Bahrain being in the Middle East and the Middle East is never painted in a great light on the media. It’s funny how the reaction of those around you can really effect how you see your move. Though I never did lose that ecstatically excited feeling for that long.

Thanks, Jaina!

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Fish out of water: expat bloggers interview series #4

  1. Great pics and I really enjoyed reading about Jaina’s life, especially after my very brief visit to the Middle East last month. Thanks Lani! And good luck Jaina — I can relate to the challenge of learning to drive on the opposite side the road as I did the same thing in reverse 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The Middle East is a surprisingly nice area of the world, despite what you hear and see in the mainstream media. While Bahrain might not be my home for the long haul, it’s fun and interesting living here for now.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really enjoyed that brief sojourn to Bahrain. I felt like I was in the souq, and now I’m going to have to check out the Jaina’s blog and her post about the party tent. Cuz I want to go there next.

    Thanks for another ex-pat interview, Lani!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the photo, crammed full of villas…
    I think there’s something to the saying: home is where the heart is. It would seem that your heart has slowly but surely found some footing in Bahrain.
    Was the move on account of your job or did you find a job when you arrived?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually the move was due to my SO’s move. He’d moved to Bahrain a year earlier and it was looking like he’d be staying there for a while yet. We’d been doing long distance for that year, but a year was enough and I made the jump to moving to Bahrain while working remotely for a company in London.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I didn’t make it to Bahrain when I lived in the Middle East. I have heard a fair bit about the place from my former male colleagues. Jaina, is it a lot more expansive than the UK?

    Oman, Jordan and Central Asia are the countries I would really like to visit.

    I was in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul yesterday. I was asked if Turkey is my home now. To which I replied, home is somewhere you live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For some things Bahrain is more expensive than the UK – obvious items like alcohol and pork are expensive. And anything imported, which is most things! Even though there’s no VAT, there’s still import tax.

      However, saying that, eating out can be incredibly cheap. We’ve gone out and paid £1.30 per person for breakfast, at one of our fave hole in the wall Indian places. Petrol is cheap, however it’s on the rise. I am saving a lot more living in Bahrain than if I was living in London, that’s for sure.

      Oman is on my travel wish list – have not heard a single bad thing said about that country.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the pictures of the Farmers’ Market and the view of villas from your home, Jaina. Also the pictures of you and your SO. When we see magazine photos of a place, we seldom see it from the point of view of where people live.

    Thanks, Lani, for the interviews. This is a great series. The expat experience is a little different for everyone. I like hearing how it is (or was) for other people.

    I’m in the middle of your book, The Missing Teacher, and liking it a lot. Have you read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty? If you haven’t, I think you’ll love it. It’s about Kindergarten moms–reminds me of your situation at the Acorn school.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha! I’m in the middle of your book, too. You must have done so much research. The details you create are really lovely. Do you answer all the questions I’m having? Is there a blog post you wrote about how you wrote your book, etc?

      Glad you are liking the interview series – and super relieved you are enjoying the book. Cheers ^^

      Like

      1. I did do a lot of research. I started writing the book after my husband died, so I couldn’t ask him. I haunted the libraries at the Univ. of Washington. I bought a few books. I searched the internet–although there wasn’t much there about Xiamen in those days, especially in English.

        I don’t know if I will answer all your questions. Some people have suggested I should write a sequel, but there’s no way I’m going to touch China’s civil war.

        I don’t think I’ve written much about how I wrote my novel. Here’s a post about our trip to Xiamen in 1983. http://nickichenwrites.com/wordpress/visiting-gulangyu/you-cant-go-home-again/

        Like

    2. I’m playing catch up with the expat series that Lani’s doing here – it really is interesting. And yes, different people all have different experiences of their respective expat countries too. Eye opening and genuinely interesting stories from real people!

      Liked by 1 person

Comments create conversations. Let's talk.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s