Current location: Muscat, Oman
Occupation: Currently not working whilst living in Oman, but previously worked in the development and humanitarian sector. I have just started a travel blog – Faraway Dispatches – and plan to offer bespoke travel planning services in coming months.
My name is Cait and I am a travel loving Brit, currently living in Oman in the Middle East.
I would describe myself as an expat, language lover, utterly besotted kitten owner and always in search of my next adventure.
I have previously lived in Australia, Russia, France and various places in the UK, most recently London. And, although I have never lived there, I have also been lucky enough to spend extensive time in China over the last decade.
If you studied abroad, would you recommend the experience?
I studied at university in Russia, completed various language programs in France and China, and did a fantastic cultural diplomacy course in Germany.
The opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture, meet new friends, learn new languages, and try all manner of delicious new cuisines is incredibly enriching. I think it is such a privilege to have favorite hangouts, secret spots, and your “own” little corner of a foreign land. How exciting to get to know somewhere far beyond what a travel guide (or even an excellent travel blog!!) can teach you!
Studying abroad – even just a short course – is also a great way to find out if a longer-term expat life might be for you. If you go for an organized programme, where all your accommodation and logistics are sorted, it is a gentle introduction to life abroad. It is a great chance to try out life in a new culture, but without the commitment a full international move brings.
What, in your opinion, are three of the most useful languages someone can learn? Why?
Ooh such a tricky question! I love studying languages. Over the years I have learned (with varying success…!) French, Russian, German, Mandarin, and now Arabic.
English – rightly or wrongly, it’s the most used language in the world.
French – what could be better than being able to order “un vin rouge” accompanied by your best indifferent Gallic shrug in a street side cafe in Paris?
Russian – with all its suffixes and prefixes and complex ways to modify words there is no thought or feeling you can’t express. Talking to a Russian friends about the great writers and poets, of the history of classical ballet, of some of the most monumental moments in world history… it is all just so much more alive and romantic in this beautiful language! Russian also has the best expressions – “speaking truth to the uterus” or “prove you are not a camel…”
Would you say travel or living abroad have impacted your career path? How?
Absolutely! Living in different cultures and different work environments has exposed me to different ways of thinking, and different ways of looking at the world. I very much hope that this has made me a more open-minded person, and was a key motivator in working on development and humanitarian issues.
I am a firm believer in transferrable skills – you can always use the skills you have learned traveling and thriving in different cultures to show how you can successfully navigate a workplace, negotiate a complex deal, or manage a stressful situation.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone time after time whilst living overseas has really developed my personal resilience. I can’t imagine I would have ended up working in crisis management had it not been for these experiences!
Many women expats moved for love and have to dig deep to succeed professionally – have you had this experience, and what advice would you give to your younger self with hindsight?
I think this is such an important question, and one I wish we could all talk about more when discussing expat issues! So apologies in advance this is going to be a longer answer!
Travel has always been my thing. So when my husband and I met and both wanted to live abroad again, it seemed perfect. And when he was offered a job in Muscat we were delighted. But when I realised I would be unable to continue working, the doubt began to set it. How would I fill my time? Was I losing my independence? Would people only see me in relation to what my husband did? Would I see myself in that light?
In some ways we are lucky the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to work differently. I would strongly encourage anyone in my position – as the horribly titled “trailing spouse” or moving abroad out of love – to be encouraged by the sheer variety of businesses and enterprises that are out there, and the different ways we can work and thrive professionally nowadays.
But I would also urge you to be kind to yourself. It is not an easy transition if your career was something you previously prioritised. Be honest with your partner – and yourself – about how you are feeling and your worries. Make use of all the expat services available in your new home, and get yourself out there and chatting to people who may help you discover something totally new and unexpected to work on.
Which has been your favorite country/city to live in?
I am starting to think I have deliberately decided all the most impossible questions to answer! My heart will always be in Scotland, and specifically Edinburgh, but for places further away from home I simply loved living in Moscow.
Moscow is the most vibrant, exciting, and challenging city. The beautiful metro stations with their stained glass, marble, and mosaics. The late night debates with friends about philosophy, art, the great world issues. The extreme seasons, the fairy tale churches and the promise of long distance train rides into the vast Russian countryside.
In terms of lifestyle, Sydney and Paris are top of my list so far, but I absolutely love having the desert on our doorstep in Oman!
Has traveling changed the way you view the world? If yes, how so?
Completely. I am hugely fortunate to have grown up in a Western country, with all of the privilege of education and opportunity that this offers. Travel has allowed me to see the reality of the world, and the reality of life for the many, many, many people not as lucky as I have been.
I am a passionate believer that travel and exploration does not need to come at the expense of the planet or the communities we visit. I believe that sustainable travel is not only possible, but essential if we are to absolutely safeguard the wonders of the world for future generations.
What book has made you the most excited to travel?
Besides travel, reading is one of the great loves of my life (the first and foremost love being my gorgeous kitten!) and there are some amazing books out there to inspire your wanderlust!
I am finding it very hard to pick just one so will cheat and say anything by Bill Bryson!
I adore his way with words – his books often reduce me to tears of laughter much to the alarm of my fellow public transport users! – and provide such a sense of a place that it is impossible not to get swept away by his stories. Notes from a Small Island is one of my all time favorite books, and A Walk in the Woods makes me cheeks hurt from laughter!
One Last Question
What advice would you give to someone who knows they want to travel but aren’t sure where that fits in with the rest of their lives?
None of us can know which way of life will take us, or what is in store for us. Maybe travel won’t be what you do all your life, or perhaps an expat life does not turn out to be for you, but you lose nothing by trying something out. So take a deep breath and go for it!
And if more extensive travel is not on the cards for you, explore what adventures you can have in your local area or for short weekend breaks.
Travel is fundamentally about meeting new people, new places, and new experiences… you might surprise yourself to discover how much of that can be found close to home, too!
Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited.
If you are connected with Cait’s feature and are interested in learning about the beautiful country she’s currently calling home, Oman, she welcomes connections via her website or Instagram, both of which provide gorgeous photography and in-depth travel guides to a rarely-discussed travel gem in the Middle East.
Psst, if you’re in need of a new world map and also want something stylish for your interior space, check out my review of this one!
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