Today we interview Italian Viola, who has moved to the stunning Noumea, New Caledonia. New Caledonia is a French territory located in the south west Pacific ocean and its many islands provide an idyllic lifestyle for Viola where every day feels like a holiday!
What led you to making the decision to leave your home country?
I had already been living abroad for 6 years before moving to New Caledonia (2 years in Australia and 4 in France). I left home when I was 21 because I wanted to explore the world.
What visas did you arrive on and was it difficult or easy to sort your visas out?
No visas required for passports issued from the EU. European citizens can stay in New Caledonia as long as they wish without needing a visa or a permit (this is a French overseas territory).
What was the first impression of your new home?
I loved it! The climate, the landscape, the people, the food, everything was great. I just had to adjust to "island time" (slower and carefree lifestyle, sometimes even careless).
Did you know many people in your new country when you moved there?
I literally knew nobody here and not much about the country itself before coming. It was sort of an adventure. I arrived here with only a backpack on my shoulders and a passport in my hands. Best feeling ever.
How did you settle in at the beginning?
Quite nicely. It's very easy to find mid/long term accommodation here and I was able to start working within a month of my arrival.
How do you support yourself abroad?
I'm a teacher and I work in the tourism industry as well.
How do you spend your free time?
Enjoying the outdoors and the ocean, visiting inhabited islets, boating, diving, hiking, road tripping. Every weekend feels like being on holidays (for real!)
How did you meet people in your new home?
There are heaps of expats here so it's quite easy to meet people and make friends. Living in a share house at the beginning of your journey will allow you to connect to a lot of people and build relationships.
Were you ever homesick? How did you manage that?
I've been living abroad for quite a few years now, so I'm quite adjusted to life overseas. But even at the beginning I was never homesick, my passion for travelling has always been stronger. I remember missing (real) Italian food tho, like an actual authentic pizza (I know it sounds like a cliche but you've never tried a real pizza unless you've been to Italy). I guess you just get used over time but you'll never take flavour for granted again.
What do you have in your new life that you never had in your home country?
An exceptional lifestyle!
If you could go back in time to before you became an expat and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Spend less money buying things and more on experiences and travel.
What have you learned about yourself in this new life?
I've learned to adapt to every situation and I also became more self aware and open-minded.
Tell us about some of your highs and lows of being an expat in a new country
Highs: the quality of life here is exceptionally good, there are plenty of activities and things to do, the country is very safe, the climate is great and the landscape is breathtaking. Wages are also higher than in Europe.
Lows: life in general is very expensive and so is travelling outside of the country (the government has a monopoly on the flights = no low cost companies).
What do you miss most about home?
Not much except for low cost travelling and flights.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experience? What would you say to anyone considering an international move?
Best decision ever. Don't worry about the details, you'll figure it out on the way, just do it!