American Expat Living in India - Interview with Neil

Published: 1 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,India
Neil moved to Chennai in January 2010. He read a lot of books and did a lot of research before coming to India, but nothing could have prepared him for what he experienced trying to start his own business and then working with a mid-sized family-owned Indian company. Every time that he thought India would finally get the best of him, he was able to add a layer of my understanding of India. His writings are the results of hard-learned lessons about surviving life surrounded by India.

Neil feels that other information about India online is either hard to gather, outdated, incomplete, or just not in sync with reality. His goal is to provide the most useful, helpful, insightful, and accurate information available on India. Neil's expat blog is called Learning India (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Neil...

Where are you originally from?
Indiana in the US

In which country and city are you living now?
Chennai, India

How long have you lived in India and how long are you planning to stay?
Have been here 5 years, likely to stay a few more

Why did you move to India and what do you do?
I moved to help a friend establish a business. Now I am a Content Marketing consultant for businesses in India.

Did you bring family with you?
My wife and I came together. We have had two children since moving here.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Constant. Only after several years do I notice patterns and find the ability to set up my life around the things that are hard to transition to.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I don't do much socializing with expats beyond business. Making friends with Indians is very easy if you submit yourself to the culture and are willing to accept new definitions of relationships.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Spend time with friends and family, go to the movies, go to the beach

What do you enjoy most about living in India?
The freedom of life India offers, and how welcoming it is to outsiders who are willing to learn from it

How does the cost of living in India compare to home?
Mostly cheaper, but some things are the same or more expensive.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in India?
Daily life can be stressful, systems break down all around you, and Chennai is very hot most of the year.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to India, what would it be?
Invest in relationships, everything else will wash away and fall apart.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Dealing with hierarchies at the office and navigating through personal business relationships.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I am a completely different person with a new outlook on life. I'll have to reenter the US as if it was a new country with its own positives and negatives

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn about India from Indians, not expats
  2. Worry about time a little as possible
  3. Choose one or two friendships to go really deep with
  4. Become comfortable with things being grey and not black and white
  5. There is no one India. Everything you learn is specific to one region/state/family. You can never learn all of India.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started it as a way to process the lessons I was learning while working at an Indian company. Now I write for cross-cultural managers and people looking to work with India more closely.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?

Or through the blog:

About the author

Expat Blog ListingNeil is an American expat living in India. Blog description: I moved to Chennai in January 2010 with my wife and four suitcases. I prepared by reading a lot of good books and meeting a lot of knowledgeable people. However, nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced trying to start my own
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