Meet Andy, a Kiwi expat in Los Angeles, California.
Where have you been living as a Kiwi expat?
Los Angeles, California
What took you there?
I’d always wanted to spend some time living and working in the US, and luckily as a recent university graduate I qualified for a 12 month J-1 visa. I decided to take up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and start in LA, as I had a friend who’d lived there before. I saved as much money as I possibly could for 6 months, arranged some temporary accommodation and then went for it. I arrived in LA with no job, and without any family or close friends in the US!
How did you find living overseas on your own?
This was actually the first time I had lived out of home, so it was immensely satisfying to be independent, as well as to overcome the challenges of living in a very large and completely unfamiliar city.
When I arrived in the US, I didn’t know a single person other than the AirBnB hosts I’d planned on staying with during my first 6 weeks – this was a little bit daunting, but not for long. My hosts were amazing people with very different and interesting backgrounds. They were also close to my age, so we quickly became friends and through them I made other great friends – as well as meeting my partner!
What do you miss most about home?
My family and friends and New Zealand’s nature and beaches – though the nature that California offers is also very beautiful, but in a different way. Like Joshua Tree – I never realized how beautiful a desert could be.
OK, so tell me about LA!
Where are your favourite spots?
Echo Park – I spent a significant period of time living in Echo Park and I absolutely loved the east side of Los Angeles for being kind of grimy, yet charming. There are a huge variety of places to eat and drink as well as some great live music venues. Be sure to stop in at Brite Spot for a (huge!) slice of Peanut Butter pie and cup of coffee after attending “French Toast”, the free weekly stand-up comedy show at Taix French Restaurant every Sunday night.
Best thing about living abroad?
Being independent. Trying new things and meeting new people. Figuring out who you are and what really matters to you.
Worst thing about living there?
Los Angeles isn’t the cleanest of cities – from the hills you can see a blanket of smog over the city. There is also a significant homeless population – coming from New Zealand, this was a shock.
What would you recommend doing in LA with only a weekend?
Go to Griffith Observatory and look out over the city by night. Go to the Science Center and see the Endeavor Space Shuttle. Get food from a Taco Truck. Go to a comedy show. Have a drink at a rooftop bar in downtown Los Angeles. Go to a Dodgers game.
What’s the best experience you’ve had in LA so far?
There are so many.
But I’d have to say Memorial Day 2013 because without realizing it at the time, that day changed my life. By total chance, I ended up going to a Memorial Day BBQ at a friend of a friend’s house. My now partner was at the neighbour’s house, and they came over to celebrate with us. That was the day we met – two people from opposite sides of the world – she from the Midwestern United States, and me from New Zealand. I very nearly didn’t go to that BBQ. Looking back, that day, will ALWAYS be significant to me because it reminded me that you never know what’s around the corner or how your life will play out, and that makes it all the more exciting.
What a lovely quote to finish with.
Thanks for taking part in this, Andy, and best of luck for the future!