What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
Have been coming to Fiji for over 20 years on holidays, but have been living here for 3 years for professional reasons. Being a "white" female in Fiji is a daily challenge as women are not normally treated as in other European countries. Always get a local friend if buying or renting real estate to help you as prices triple with "whites". Underlying discrimination against "white" people in most places, particularly in one of the major local communities, much less with the other major local one.
Everything has to be bargained for. Beware of easy and quick friendships or courtships as some locals often see them as a means of financial support and not genuine friendship, no matter how deep and moving are the love words used . Beware of house help as thieving is rampant, make sure you have recommendations from other people living locally.
The positives: cheap and good fruit and vegies at the market which also financially helps market vendors (instead of buying imported and transformed goods). Laidback lifestyle to help unstress. Make sure you have genuine male and female friends, locals or expats, it will be easier for living as a woman here. Much is said and done for the status of women and I praise those who tirelessly work for it but the reality is sometimes different. We'll get there! The rule: put on your best smile but always keep an eye open and you should manage the wonderful and sometimes surprising intricacies of living here. All the best!
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Having lived in another developing country of the South Pacific before, the way of life here is similar, except that there, people seemed more genuine than here and are able to smile and say hello without being paid for it.
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
In one of the major communities, women are still seen as the servants of men, in spite of the nice smiles and words. Where money is involved it temporarily changes attitudes, but as soon as the deal's done, it gets back to the usual. Sad rather than disappointing as a country's progress is often related to the way it treats women (and animals for that matter).