Expat Interview With Maria Tumolo - Expat In England

Published: 3 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,England
Maria Tumolo came to England in 2001 for a working-holiday. On arriving in England, she lodged with the mum of an English friend she'd made while working as a Library Technician in a contemporary arts gallery, in Trinidad. Maria travelled a bit and her favourite city back then was Copenhagen (until she visited Venice for my 3td anniversary). She's worked as a Customer Service Officer, for Marks & Spencer, in the Lingerie Department, a Library Assistant at the Classics Faculty Library, Cambridge University and then as a Curriculum and Programme Administrator in further education. While doing all of this she studied, gained a college award, met and was courted by a dashing Chinese-Italian Brit. They married in 2006. Their first born arrived winter 2010 and she then transitioned into a SAHM summer 2011. They're are now expecting their second-born, a girl, winter 2012. She has an expat blog (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Maria...

Where are you originally from? 
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

In which country and city are you living now?
Surrey, Great London, England

How long have you lived here? 
11 years

What made you decide to up sticks and emigrate? 
I wanted to pursue a postgraduate award, as well have an opportunity to travel and gain UK work experience. It was at a point in my life when I had no attachments, no debit and nothing to lose by venturing away from my homeland.

Why did you pick this country? 
Coming from a commonwealth country travelling to the UK seemed the most natural choice. Additionally, I knew my degree would be readily accepted here to purse my postgraduate studies, without having to do any conversion or top up credits.

Did you bring family with you? 
No, I came alone. I was 27 years old going on 28, I had no children or life-partner at the time.

What immigration advice did you get and how did you get it? 
It’s been so long now I can’t remember clearly. However, it might have been partially from friends who’d been to the UK in the past on the same visa type as me (Working Holiday Visa), partially from the British High Commission in Trinidad and the visa itself (working holiday visa) had some restrictions written on it directly.

Did you get a relocation company to help you move?
No, I didn’t as my move was not intended to be permanent. Also essentially I had no major items that I need to have with me other than my clothes. Any memorabilia I wanted from home I collected when I visited home, after being in the UK just under 1 ½ years.

How does the cost of living compare?
Both countries are expensive. However, before I left Trinidad, I still lived with grandmother who raised me; I had no major bills to pay I only contributed to the household. Coming to the UK I now had several expenses. However for the first 10 months I lived as a lodger, which provided dinner daily. I only had to purchase breakfast and lunch. Back then I was figure (size) conscious so I didn’t eat a lot. Later when I moved to London and had rent, utilities, transport and other expenses I kept a strict budget in order to save towards my college tuition.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people? 
Yes, it was. I already had a few university friends in various parts of the country. My friends introduced me to their friends some of whom later became friends with me. Then slowly via my place of employment and various flat shares, I made friends from various parts of the world some of whom I can still call friends.

What was the hardest thing with the whole expat experience? 
I’ve never had any problems being away from home. I was never homesick. However once I ‘settled’ and made the UK my official home and became a mum the challenges began. It’s hard to raise a child without the support of family being physically accessible. I feel it most in the winter, when I’m home alone with my son, while hubby is at work.

What is your favourite aspect of the expat experience? 
I love the fact that you can make a fresh start, re-chart your life. Everyone you meet they are meeting you and working with a clean slate. I also love the ‘invisibility’. Coming from a small island, it sometimes felt that someone, who knew someone knew me and about my life. I’ve always like my privacy. Being an expat allows me to share what I want to share an keep private what I want to be kept private. At least that’s how it feels anyway.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone emigrating here, what would it be? 
I’d say have a plan, and an alternative plan then another alternative plan. Having a goal and a mission helps you to keep your focus and remember why you left home, especially when times are tough, it gives you the courage to carry on if obstacles and/or loneliness sets in.

What are your top 5 expat tips? 
1. Have a goal and an aim.
2. Choose your friends wisely.
3. Get to know your host country: people, art, culture heritage, and embrace it.
4. Seize every positive opportunity that comes your way to develop and be a better you.
5. Don’t look back, always keeping moving forwards.

Maria runs her expat blog http://tigertales-msxpat.blogspot.com which is well worth reading so do please visit! She can be found on Twitter @MsXpat and Facebook. Maria also can be found on her Pinterest profile. If you like Maria's blog please visit her listing and leave her some nice comments! Help Maria win her category in the Expat Blog Awards 2012!
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