My journey with Crown started in 2004, when I joined Crown Moscow as a Junior Sales Executive. At that time, Crown Moscow office was run by expats, one of the heads of Department was Dutch, my manager was Greek-French, the sales manager was Finnish and another French colleague. It was very fascinating to work in an international environment.
Working for an international Relocation company, meant I was meeting and dealing with expats from all over the world, who were working for big international companies or with diplomatic missions in the Russian Federation. It was amazingly interesting to see different cultures, working attitudes and experiences to blend, adjust or even struggle with complex business environment in Russia.
I have always liked to travel and always felt more satisfied in the airport rather than on my comfy sofa in Moscow. It was while working in Crown with constant contact with expats awakened a desire to try a career abroad as an expat myself. So after 2 years in Moscow I went to my manager and asked if it would be possible to transfer to another office in another country.
A couple of months later an offer came from Dubai, a sales position was available. Should I say I hesitated a bit? Not at all! The shock came mostly from my closest friends and relatives who simply could not understand, how it was possible to leave to another country with no friends, family and other connections. They were, by all means, trying to talk me out of this, but my feeling of adventure was stronger than any fears ahead.
Adventure is definitely the key word! I landed in Dubai and was welcomed very warmly by the staff from Crown Dubai. It was all I was expecting and even more! Dubai is an international hub and hosts foreigners from all the parts of the world. The office itself was so diverse, and the working experience was amazing. It was fascinating to see how people from all parts of the world with different cultures can work together smoothly and joyfully. There was always something to talk about and discuss apart from business. There was so much to learn and discover.
Needless to say, that this new country became my second home and Crown became my second family for the next four years! Socializing and keeping yourself active is the key. I discovered scuba diving and rugby which kept my weekends busy. On a boat with 12 people, none of them were from the same country. How diverse is that?
The desire to start a new adventure started to grow. So once again, I went to my manager and asked what other opportunities are out there. He replied with Saudi Arabia! Seriously? Well, why not!
I was nervous about moving to Saudi Arabia because it is an extremely different culture to what I was used to. Although when I arrived, the word used most often by locals was actually “Welcome”. Yes indeed Saudi Arabia was different to most things I’ve seen or experienced, but most of the locals were friendly and genuinely interested in talking to you. Saudi Arabia is not an easy place to be, it is not good or bad, but different. Myself being part of Western culture it was quite difficult to adapt to a very conservative lifestyle..
A society, renowned for not having clubs, bars, cinemas or theatres, can be hard to adapt to, but it just turned out to be another adventure! The story repeats itself again! Socializing is the key. Very soon I have found myself among fellow expats facing the same challenges. I wasn’t alone, not at all! My Facebook grew by at least 200 new friends in less than 5 months, all driven by the eagerness to meet new people, staying active and exchange views and ideas.
So, the expat community became my second family in Saudi Arabia. Making life more interesting and filled with new experiences, adventures, friends and acquaintances. It is surprisingly how many things you can do here. There is a strong international community within the very walls of Saudi Arabia. People from different parts of the world and different backgrounds mingle together and help each other on daily basis. I started to do a lot of sports, reading and travelling.
Now, 5 years later, I’m still in Saudi Arabia enjoying my every day of work and weekends too. The hardest thing living abroad is seeing some of your good friends leaving the country, but on a positive note, you will always have someone to meet from almost every country in the world!