My name is Zeljka, but to my blog readers I am better known as Ms.Z. I grew up in Croatia where I spent most of my life. I lived in the USA for several years where I met my husband. 7 months ago I moved to Nepal. I now live in Kathmandu.
When and how did you decide to move to Nepal? Is it complicated to settle down there?
I moved to Nepal for love. My husband is Nepali and we have been in a long distance relationship for almost 4 years. After we got married I decided to move to Nepal to live with him. I was very excited to move to Nepal so it wasn't too difficult to settle there. Obviously, the fact that my husband is Nepali made everything a million times easier.
Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?
As I mentioned, before moving to Nepal I spent several years living in the USA so I experienced life abroad and far away from home before this move. I love traveling and visiting different places and I travelled all over Europe so far. I visited some places in the USA and Canada as well. Now, living in Asia, I am intending to explore that part of the world as well and travel around the region a bit.
What do you like the most about Kathmandu?
Kathmandu is the city like no other. It's a crowded, busy, polluted, and completely third-world city. Sometimes the amount of crowd, smoke, dust and pollution is overwhelming, but what I like the best are the old parts of the city. They transport the person to some other, olden times. I like Boudhanath stupa the best. It's an absolutely magical place.
How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with Croatia, your home country?
As I visited Nepal before moving there permanently, in some ways I knew what to expect from it, so my cultural shock was not so pronounced. I mostly had a hard time adjusting to lack of electricity in Kathmandu. There is something called load-shedding which essentially means there are power cuts several times a day. Other than that, I sometimes had a hard time dealing with the laid back mentality of Nepali people. I am a very impatient person and want everything done quickly and efficiently. Adjusting to Nepali ways and Nepali time (about 45 minutes behind real time) was a challenge.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
Most of the time I miss my family and friends, but again, I live with my husband and that makes me happy. I sometimes miss small things – food I like and cannot buy in Nepal, but in general, I am happy and don't miss much. I am simply enjoying my time in Nepal.
Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?
One thing I believe most expats struggle with in Nepal is the prices of every day things, like taxi rides for example. If you look like a foreigner, the prices go up. For expats, that means spending a lot of money on daily things which can get quite costly. Bargaining with shop keepers and taxi drivers is a daily struggle for every expat. It can get pretty tiring.
What does a typical day as an expat in Kathmandu look like?
Being married to a Nepali man, I do not consider myself a typical expat, and my life is a combination of both cultures, both worlds. I wake up around 6 am to spend some time with my family while a typical Nepali breakfast dish (daal bhat tarkari – rice lentil and vegetables) is being prepared. I leave for work around 8:30 am. After work I am back in the car and spend sometimes even up to hour and a half to come back home through crazy Kathmandu traffic. Typical workday is not too exciting, and weekends are reserved for friends, shopping and fun family events.
When did you start your blog? For what reasons?
I started to blog mostly to keep in touch with my friends and family around the world. I wanted to share my impressions of Nepal and my new life. As most of the people don't know much about Nepal, I thought it might be interesting for people to read about it.
Did you make new friends with your blog?
I made many friends through blogging and I even met some of the fellow bloggers in person.
Why did you register on expat.com and what do you think of the website?
It's always so exciting to find people in similar situation and share experience and impressions. That's exactly why I signed up for expat.com – in hopes to find more friends and connect with more bloggers.
Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Kathmandu (or Nepal)?
To all other expats who are considering Nepal as their destination: be prepared for enormous differences between Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. Also, don't be shocked by Katmandu's pollution and crowds. Try to search for small gems around the city that provide seclusion and peace. When you find them, Kathmandu becomes a magical place. Come with an open mind and leave with a full heart.
The Roofs of Kathmandu