Expat Stories: Karolina Zachara
Introducing you to Karolina in Scotland!
In this month’s instalment of Expat Stories, we welcome one of Mauve’s newest team members Karolina Zachara.
Karolina, who is originally from Poland, began working at Mauve in May 2023 as the new Global Benefit Services Manager, bringing with her a wealth of industry experience. Karolina has kindly agreed to share her expat story about her relocation to Scotland.
Tell us about yourself, and what made you decide to move to Scotland?
I am Karolina, I have recently joined Mauve as the new Global Benefits Services Manager, working remotely from Scotland. I am very much in the early days of this role and already I am enjoying establishing processes and creating both short and long-term plans for my growing department. Everybody at Mauve has been really helpful and welcoming, which I am grateful for. I am looking forward to taking the Benefits department to new heights.
My decision to move from Poland to Scotland came as a result of my fiercely stubborn nature and the need to tick it off my travelling list. Previously, I travelled around England, Wales and Northern Ireland but during my travels, I did not get the chance to venture up to Scotland, so I couldn’t say I had covered the entire United Kingdom. When the opportunity arose to stay with a friend in Scotland in March 2020, I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to see the country and complete my UK travel goals. Although my 2-week holiday to Scotland turned into a 3-month stay because during my holiday it was announced the UK would enter lockdown as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that period, I saw how green and peaceful Scotland is and I loved being here. 3 and a half years later, I have residency here and have no plans to leave.
How did you prepare for relocation?
I prepared for relocation by managing and tracking all the tasks via a spreadsheet. It can be overwhelming moving to a new country but if you create one document with all of the steps listed and divide them into a hundred small tasks, such as completing documentation and paperwork, no task can be forgotten, and you can measure your progress.
Were there any factors which made relocation easier for you?
Planning and preparation made relocation easier for me. Equally, researching aspects of relocation such as the transportation and legal requirements of moving my dog from Poland to Scotland. There were so many aspects involved including vaccinations, blood tests, and permissions from multiple government organisations that all had to corroborate the exact same data. Researching these processes ahead of time helped to manage my relocation timeline.
What were the most challenging aspects of relocation?
The most challenging aspect for me was finding out about essential information I was required to know once I moved to Scotland. Information regarding how the DVLA operates, the need for road tax, learning about council tax and how to operate pre-paid metres were new to me and not the same regulations as at home in Poland. Whilst these things were not fundamental obstacles, having support to help navigate these small things would have been ideal.
How was navigating the visa and immigration process?
Navigating the visa and immigration process was quite straightforward because I applied and was approved prior to the UK leaving the European Union. The immigration process related to obtaining status, which was easier pre-Brexit and as someone from a European Union member country.
How important do you think it is to have experts, such as Mauve Group, to assist and guide you through the relocation process?
I think it is super important to have experts to guide and assist you through the relocation process. I had to learn about all the different elements involved in relocation, it was time-consuming and left me questioning whether I had done everything correctly. Having professionals to lean on for all aspects of support including immigration advice or post-relocation assistance would have provided me with a huge amount of reassurance.
What is your favourite part about living abroad?
There are so many parts of living in Scotland I love, including meeting people with a similar sarcastic sense of humour and learning about the commonalities between Polish and Scottish people. I also love the greenery, lakes, and the weather. The weather is more temperate than in Poland, I don’t miss the extreme cold and heat!
What is your top tip for moving to a new country?
Research the general rules and cultural conduct of a new country. You want to make sure that when you leave your house, you know what to expect, such as what is the weather like. What language is spoken? Do you need to adhere to a certain dress code?
Was there anything that you weren’t expecting?
I consider myself to be a person that cannot be surprised. I did my research and already knew what I was signing up for because I had stayed in Scotland over lockdown and had already travelled around much of the UK. Although, one thing I was slightly surprised by was the language and the various dialects in Scotland.
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