From France to ...around the world on a ship: Away With Your Fairies

Published 2020-12-07 10:00:00
Credit: Away With Your Fairies

Hi! I'm Kevin, 29 years old. French and currently living, and working.... on a huge cruise ship! Since 2019, I have been a Shipboard HR Manager ;)

It's going to be complicated for me to answer this question: Where do you live now? As I am sailing on the 7 Seas, I am travelling in so many countries around the world! Let's say that my belongings are still in France so I return there when I am not on the vessel. Previously, I was expatriated in Cardiff, UK and also in Dublin, Ireland. I am not a serial expat (yet!) but I love to learn new ways of living and discover new cultures. And I love photography too. I am not a pro, just that I like to shoot and share the beauty of this world.

Why did you move abroad?
I always lived in France but always wanted to live abroad. Learn a new culture... Meet new people... Try a new way of life... Basically, getting out of my comfort zone!
Also, I wanted to access a few positions in some companies but my application was always denied as I couldn't speak English.

So, in 2016, I decided to leave France and to live in Dublin, Ireland. I stayed 6 months in Dublin to learn English at school. I met great friends from all over the world, in Dublin for the same reason. So we practised English all together, shared our cultures... And we used to party a lot, haha!

Then, I moved to Cardiff as my level of English was good enough to get a job and I found the perfect position in the UK. I stayed there 2 years. Away from the big cities and their craziness. Even if the Welsh people are quite crazy! Wales is a dynamic region but also very peaceful. It's a strange and amazing combination.

Finally, I found a job offer... on a ship! I was very curious about this job and this completely different way of living and working. Excited by this challenge, I fought for the job and I got it. I am now living my best life.

	Kevin 'pulling' his boat - Credit: Away With Your Fairiesl

How have you been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis?
I guess everyone has been impacted.... Unfortunately! On my ship, all cruises were cancelled and our job was to repatriate our crew members to their home country. No passenger on board, this was a little bit sad. As per sanitation rules, we had to close many venues as well. It was difficult to socialize and to have a little bit of fun with our colleagues after long days of work... We couldn't go ashore either to visit or just to walk on some land from time to time.

At home, while I am supposed to enjoy my vacation, I am instead confined and can't see my family and my friends. I have experience of 2 different lockdowns now. This is not easy but I understand the situation around the world and I accept it. I still have the feeling that I am wasting my time at home but what can we do about it, right!?

What sort of measures are in place in the country where you live?
The ships are in lockdown. We can organize crew rotation under certain conditions. The joining crew members must follow a 14-day isolation period before going to work and walking around the ship. During our contract on board, we can't leave the ship either to visit or even to go to the mall or the restaurant. We stay on the ship for the entire contract.

In France, it's a partial lockdown. Only when the cases rise. The first lockdown was total. People respected it and we managed to reopen the businesses after 6 weeks. But then the government authorized the population to go on holidays and people went crazy about it. No social distancing and no mask anymore. So the cases did rise again and the government had to establish another lockdown. Partial this time. Only "non-essential" businesses have to close. So people don't really respect this decision and don't understand it. Therefore, they don't respect the lockdown and go out, organize parties, go on strike, etc. French people are complaining. Cliché, isn't it? Haha!

How do you make a living?
I am paid while I am travelling! Well... When there isn't a global pandemic, of course! So I am paid when I am on board my ship. And unfortunately, with my job, I can't work from home. So, I haven't been furloughed but I still have to be patient and wait for the world to be a better place in order to come back to work on the vessel.

What is your personal opinion on the way the pandemic is currently managed by the country? What is your view, especially in comparison to what has been done in the country you come from?
I clearly don't understand why we had a total lockdown the first time and now that the situation is even worse, France only established a partial lockdown... When I compare with so many countries around the world that have less cases and can contain the virus by establishing a total lockdown, I don't understand why we don't do the same and expect to contain the virus, hoping that French people will be responsible. Haha! French people... Responsible...?! Noooo, French people are very stubborn and love to protect their own interest. Fun fact: there are more people in the street in Paris than in Washington DC. Could you believe that? And we all know how the US managed the situation. And we know that there is no lockdown in the US.... people are just careful and are more responsible I guess.

How do you manage the relationship with your family in your home-country?
When I am on my ship, I keep a constant and frequent communication with my family. I call them every week. They are worried and they want to know what's going on on board so I give them news very often. I just have to be patient and wait to have a good network so I can call them. While at sea, it's difficult to send messages or to make calls (I am not even talking about accessing the Internet!).

On the contrary, with my friends, I don't contact them very often. They know I am working hard and they leave me alone. We catch up when I come back home.

Without thinking about the current pandemic, what's your favorite thing about being an expat on a ship?
I have the best environment in the world! The dream for a serial expat! Imagine... Every day I wake up in a different country. On a Saturday I am in the US, and when I wake up on the Sunday morning, I can be in Mexico!

I live and work with more than 40 different nationalities and even more different cultures. I can learn about them, all at the same place and at the same time! I don't have to expatriate many times. I live and work with all these people from the UK, Philippines, Russia, Mexico, India, etc. They all bring their culture when they come on board.
And I am being paid to enjoy these benefits! It's quite cool!

And what’s the worst thing about being an expat on a ship?
It's not easy all the time of course. We are not home for many months and we can miss events. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, etc. It's hard when you see all the photos and videos sent by your family and your friends. But you have to accept it. You can't be there for everything and you will miss important events.

What do you miss most?
The food haha! I come from a country where food is definitely a very important part of our culture. I am always very happy to come back to Paris and re-discover the gastronomy. Yes, it's a little bit cliché but French food is the best. And I don't say that because I'm French.... Wait. No. I absolutely say that because I'm French! Cheese, bread and red wine is the first meal I enjoy when I come back. Every time!

What advice would you give to other expats?
You made your decision to expatriate. You have done your research and you moved to your new country, new life, new place. But your job is not done yet. Continue your effort and keep exploring. Get out of your comfort zone, especially at the beginning. Sometimes, it will be hard to make new friends, to find a new job... But don't give up! It's always rewarding.

You have the right motivation and that's the most important. Enjoy your expatriation and make the most of it.

I have a motto: Have fun. Every single day. ;)

When and why did you start your blog?
I created my blog during my second expatriation, when I was living in the UK. I realized that, with time, we tend to forget things. Events. Details. I didn't want that. I wanted to remember everything that happened to me during my expatriation. I wanted to remember my adventures. My difficulties. My challenges.

So, I created this blog for me. That was the first idea. Then, while travelling and meeting new people, I also noticed that many expats were not prepared enough for this kind of adventure. Many were disappointed or lost. So, I wanted my blog to be a guide as well. Expats could find resources and tips to get prepared before making any decision. They can also read concrete situations about my experiences, what mistakes I made and my accomplishments.

I wrote about my 2 expatriations in Ireland and in the UK (and I still haven't finished yet!), and also about my life on board a cruise ship.

I know that people prefer to watch videos on Youtube now rather than reading a blog but I don't feel comfortable to talk alone in front of a camera and I always liked to write.

How is having a blog been beneficial?
To me, it's an accomplishment. I finally have a "place" where I can write my adventures, my thoughts, my challenges and successes. I can share my experiences with my family, my friends and many other curious people around this world. I have my map and I can remember where I have been and when.

To the readers, well, I hope this blog helped a few people to make the right decision or to get prepared for their next adventure.

Kevin on his boat - Credit: Away With Your Fairiesl

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Author: EasyExpat
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