Before I start cycling I think it’s nice to also tell a little bit about living as an expat in a foreign country. Before I started working for my current employer I never really thought about working and living abroad. I think the Netherlands are a nice country to live in, in which a lot of things are properly provided for. Next to this I have my family and my friends living there, so becomming an expat has never actually been an ambition of mine. However I do very much like working on complex design – and construction projects, so that was the main reason for me to start working for my current employer.
Changing jobs also brought about the opportunity to work on projects abroad. During my job interview I was asked whether I would mind to be send abroad and I honostly answered that I actually didn’t know. Because I actually didn’t know 🙂 The best part is that they still hired me, even despite this overly honoust answer.
So during the last 1,5 years I’ve been working on international projects all over the globe, from Brisbane in Australia to Medelin in Colombia. I’ve also been travelling a lot. Berlin, Mexico City, Geneva, Hanoi. However the longest that I’ve been away uptill my actual expatriation, was 9 days. At this point I’m about 2,5 months away from home and I’m starting to get some idea of what it is like.
I have an appartment for myself, with wifi, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a balcony and air conditioning. The appartment is located 60km from the site office, which in Vietnamese traffic is about a 1,5 hour drive by car. Unfortunately it’s too far to do it by bike. We work 5,5 days per week, just like the Vietnamese. My alarm is set at 0530 6 days per week. At 0600 I either run or do a bit of cycling. At 0700 I finish in order to be ready for the pick up by our driver at 0730. We arrive at site around 0900 and then we work untill 1200 after which we have lunch. After lunch we work till 1700 and then we make the drive back to the appartment, where we go out for dinner. On the saturdays we’re back at the appartment around 1500. On the sundays we have the day off.
Working and communicating with the Vietnamese isn’t always as easy and at times it is even challenging. Nevertheless they are doing the best they can and they are very ambitious. Our pressence on site is appreciated and we feel that we are making a difference and that we are helping them to achieve their goals.
Our working days (including the daily commute) are quite long, but that’s properly compensated by all the nice additional benefits that life as an expat brings about: my bed is made everyday (i never do that back at home) my house is cleaned everyday (back at home i only do that when it is really really really necessary), I got to use one of my tickets back home to visit my little brother in Australia during the end of year holidays (which was a pretty amazing trip), we eat out every day (i also did that at home but here it’s much cheaper) I get to learn this amazing Vietnamese culture (Tet celebrations uptill now are pretty good) and I get the opportunity to make some pretty amazing bike trips 🙂
Okay so I guess the pro’s definetely outweigh the cons, although I do miss my friends and family pretty much. Luckily the world has become a lot smaller with the internet, so it’s not like we’re completely separated. And the pro’s are so good that I probably shouldn’t whine about it to much.
So that’s it in short. I could write much more about it, but in the end it’s about the cycling trip 🙂