Hey, I’m Kristina, and I’m a British expat living in Wroclaw, Poland. Before moving to Poland, I also spent some time in Greece, Austria and Belgium, and the UK of course. I created this blog because I feel like I have gathered quite a few experiences in the past few years of living abroad and it’s about time I share them!
I’ve had a few jobs over the years including: customer assistant in a sport shop, lifeguard, Christmas Elf, English Language Assistant, translator … I’ve had a real varied working life so far, and no, I didn’t get to meet Santa.
My time abroad
I chose to study German and Modern Greek at university, and in the UK, a languages degree normally involves a year abroad in the respective countries of the languages you’ve chosen. So I ended up in Thessaloniki, Greece, at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki for 4 months. Then I went to Vienna in Austria for another 4-5 months where I worked as an English Language Assistant.
After my year abroad, I returned to the UK to finish my undergraduate degree. After that, I had an uncomfortable 6 months of having absolutely no idea what I was doing. Luckily I had a job working as a lifeguard so I didn’t go insane, but once the dark winter set in, I started to panic. And then …
The EU Traineeship happened …
I applied for a traineeship at the EU on a whim to be honest. I never thought I had a chance of getting accepted, so much so I forgot all about my application. Then one dark, depressing night, I was waiting at a crowded bus shelter in Dagenham. The bus I wanted was taking ages to turn up so of course I checked my emails on my phone. It was then I discovered a little email in my inbox inviting me to Brussels to do a traineeship at the European Commission! Well, my life changed after that day, that’s for sure. One month later, off I flew to Brussels with absolutely no knowledge of French at all. There I completed a five month internship at DG Translation and it was a game changer. I always thought about studying translation but before taking the postgraduate plunge, I wanted to make sure it was what I wanted to do. This internship was what I needed to decide and, boy, am I grateful for having this opportunity. I’m also grateful for the 5 months of Belgian chocolate, waffles and fries, as well as the lovely people I met while I was there! It was because of this experience that I applied for a Master’s degree in translation. So cheers to that!
Postgraduate and The next move
After those glorious five months in Brussels, reality came crashing down hard. I spent almost six months unemployed – not even Burger King wanted to hire me. I had just applied for another student loan to do my Master’s degree and I was feeling pretty glum financially. Luckily my grandparents let me live with them while I did my degree, so I didn’t have rent to pay. Eventually, I decided to re-qualify as a lifeguard because it paid well and, to be fair, I knew it was something I was good at.
So little lifeguard Kristina went back to uni 3-4 days a week and worked at a swimming pool in East London on the weekends. During this year, I also had my first experience with rescuing someone while on duty – both times, I didn’t get wet at all. They do say: “A good lifeguard is a dry lifeguard!”
In the summer of 2017 I was doing my dissertation and starting to panic about what I was going to do next. Would I stay in London or move somewhere else in the UK? Maybe abroad? Interestingly, I didn’t imagine moving abroad again at this point – I was quite cosy in the UK. And then I came across a job offer for a translator in Wroclaw, Poland. I would be translating German to English and working in a mostly international team. It sounded fabulous, so I applied on a whim. Then they called me for an interview the very next day!
Over the next few weeks, I interviewed for a couple of other jobs, but none of them really interested me that much compared to the job in Poland. And it just so happened that they offered me the job! So in September 2017, I handed in my dissertation then two weeks later, I moved to Poland to start my new job.
Two years have passed since then and a lot has happened. I got a boyfriend, an IUD, changed jobs … it’s been a lot. But, anyway, that’s how I came to be where I am right now, and I hope to share my stories, experience and advice to other budding expats out there.