From UK to Libya, Expat Interview with Jameela

Published: 11 Sep at 5 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Libya
Jameela has recently moved to Libya with her two sons. She initially moved to Misurata, the 3rd largest city in Libya and has now moved again to Zaawia, 30 minutes from the capital, Tripoli. In Libya, she is an ESL teacher working in unvierstity. She started her blog to share her experience as an expat in Libya and to provide real life details on a country a lot of people know nothing about. She is very happy in her new life and hope to stay there for the next 5 years or so. Jameela's expat blog is called Diary of an Expat (see listing here)

Libya is a country just coming out of a revolution
Libya is a country just coming out of a revolution

Here's the interview with Jameela...

In which country and city are you living now?
I live in Libya, just moved from Misurata to Zaawia.

How long have you lived in Libya and how long are you planning to stay?
I moved to Libya in March 2013 and i don't have any plan to return. This is not the lifetime plan though, my family and I are hoping to move to Tunisia in 5 years time or so.

Why did you move to Libya and what do you do?
I was looking for new job oportunities, a better environment to raise my children in and better weather too. I now teach English in university.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, i moved with my husband and our 2 sons.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It all hapened very fast for me as I received many concrete job offers almost as soon as I looked into the Libyan market. I was so ready for a new start that it all went very well. This is not my first time moving abroad, i didn't know what to expect as i had never been to Libya but i had the experience of "expecting the unexpected". There were many people who offered their help before, during and after the move too.

View from my terrasse, this is what i dreamed of when i left rainy England
View from my terrasse, this is what i dreamed of when i left rainy England
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
To be honest between full time work and my 2 children i haven't had much time for socialising but i did meet some people where i lived and at my children's nursery. Libyan people are very warm and welcoming, helpful and friendly. I didn't really socialise with other expats apart from the other expats teachers at work. In Libya i didn't feel a Libyan/non Libyan divide, only the language barrier was (and still is) a problem.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The beach! Head to the beach as soon and as often as you can. The colour of the water is simply unbelievable!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Most of all, i enjoy a more simple way of life away from mass consumerism. I love that my kids are free to play around outside without any fear really, that's priceless.

How does the cost of living compare to the UK?
I was surprised to find that prices are quite similar to prices in the UK. However petrol, gas, water and bread are almost free. Rent is also cheaper and there are NO water or electricity bills. Cars are expensive to buy but very cheap to run. Wages for expats are much higher than in the UK though so you can live very confortably in Libya and even save some.

Simply amazing the colour of the sea.
Simply amazing the colour of the sea.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Libya?
Anything to do with administration and official business is a nightmare. There are no structure or organisation and things are very slow, very confusing and it will drive you mad. And you'll need to personally follow up any matter or else it gets forgotten on someone's desk.
Driving and speed can also be an issue if you're not used to it: Libyan drive like crazy and you'll need to learn their "rules" very fast if you want to survive on the road there.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Well patience is a must in a country where time is slower. Also remember that Libya is a muslim country, quite conservative too, so people should look into what this means before heading to Libya to avoid misunderstandings.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Nothing much really, took me some time to adjust to the week starting on Saturday though. For months i never knew what day it was... apart from that everything went well.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I don't plan to go back either to the Uk or France, i have another move in mind though, to Tunisia in a few years, that could be the last one.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be patient, time in some countries is slower and you'll burn out very quick if you don't learn to simply let things go.
  2. Having an open mind is essential. Leave your prejudice back home, most of them are not true anyway.
  3. Plan ahead a little and do some research, expat blogs are an amazing source of "real life" information.
  4. If possible, save as much money as you can, expat moves can be very expensive. There are so many things you just can't imagine before you get there and those will quickly add up.
  5. Keep in touch with your friends back home, at the beginning you won't know many people and it can be lonely sometimes.

Misurata University grounds - sunshine, plam trees...
Misurata University grounds - sunshine, plam trees...
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
When i researched moving to another country i felt frustrated by the lack of "real" information and pictures on official website. They never seem to have the info i was looking for. Then i discovered blogs, didn't know anything about them, and i realised how useful they were. Since info on Libya was extremely rare at the time, i thought maybe i could help by recording my experience and sharing my thought, pictures and making myself available to others.
So my blog is about sharing my experience, i try to write posts about everything big and small to help people understand what life is really like in Libya. I try to answer those questions i couldn't find answers to back then and since i love my new country so much, i'd like to inspire others to give it a try.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
People can contact me via the comment boxes on my blog (email address will not be published) and i will reply to them as early as i can.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJameela is a French expat living in Libya. Blog description: A blog for expats by a serial expat sharing experience of planning a move abroad, settling down, working, immigration procedure and more. I blog about every day expatlife, working as an ESL teacher and raising children abroad
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Comments » There is 1 comment

May wrote 10 years ago:

I am so happy to read this as the only news we get of Libya is that which will get people riled up and my feeling has been that life is okay for most people there now. I would like to learn more about the daily life of average Libyans; in what ways is it better than before the revolution and in what ways harder? I used to dream of Libya and now I only daydream. Someday, I hope to see it for myself, at a time when the wildflowers are in bloom. Thanks for the post.

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