It’s so strange being an ex-pat. Particularly because the job I’m doing is quite senior, so I suddenly find people running around after me with a deference that makes me quite uncomfortable. I don’t need car doors opened for me, nor do I expect to be called Señora on a regular basis!
It’s been particularly strange looking for an apartment. It’s partly a cultural difference – there seem to be very few small apartments or houses here – presumably because people live in larger households here than in London. So I’ve got used to the idea of being in a big apartment. But the style of furnishings believed attractive for foreign staff is really rather strange – a combination of luxurious and kitsch!
One apartment I saw had a stunning view of the city, but the decoration was weird! Some really lovely and luxurious solid wood furniture, but incredibly kitschy decoration. Pictures of angels everywhere, including an unbelievable fountain/font effort with cherubs sitting on rocks… utterly bizarre! The front room was designed for formal entertaining for about 40-50 people. It even had its own bar! And it was so big that I nearly got lost… It seems virtually impossible to find an apartment with less than three bedrooms (not even counting the bedroom and separate bathroom for the maid, which is a bit silly as I certainly don’t want a live in maid!). Trying to find something that is a reasonable size but has the things I need has been really quite challenging.
Anyway, I think I’ve finally found a place I like – it only has two bedrooms, is not overdecorated, and has an astounding view of the city! It was the first place that felt like I could be at home in for six months.