expat interview

Interview of the month June 2017

While supporting expats with integration, their confidence and languages, I share these interviews, revealing personal stories, tips and advice.

Moving countries is such a change, and how to feel ‘’at Home’’ can be challenging. Let’s see what we can learn from this month’s interviewee.

I introduce you to Carmita Prieto

Interview with Carmita Prieto

Original country: Venezuela

Expat countries: Qatar

Current country: Qatar on the move to Spain


Your story in a nutshell

I’m Venezuelan, was born in Maracaibo, the country’s second biggest city.

I began to consider emigrating around 1994-95, but for one or another reason I didn’t emigrate until 2007, when due to the political conditions in my country, I knew my days in my job in PDVSA were counted.

Actually, I soon realized my only option was to find a job overseas, so I set a plan and whenever I had some spare time, I went online in the search for a job.

I begun to have job interviews making really short trips to attend them and within 4 months I accepted a position in the Corporate Environment and Sustainable Development department of Qatar Petroleum, Qatar’s national oil and gas company.

I sold everything, including my comfortable apartment in one of the best areas of Maracaibo, and in September 10th 2007, I left, knowing that coming back was a remote option and hoping that Qatar would become a new home for me.

In 2014 I decided to change careers, got trained as Personal Performance Coach and I retired from 40 years of engineering career to devote myself to help others create the life they want to live and have been working as a coach since September 2015.

Currently I’m planning to move to Spain within few months and start a new chapter there.

I’m a creative being who loves supporting others unlock their potential, but also singing, dancing, painting, baking, having rich conversations and sharing good quality time with family and friends.

I am a single mum, with a beautiful daughter, who’s also an expat and lives in Qatar with her husband and my two beautiful grandsons.


Biggest challenges

My biggest challenge was to adjust to a culture, where women just recently are taking a more protagonist role. Having a position at corporate level it took me a while to gain the respect of colleagues who were not in use with a woman telling them what to do, how and when to do it. But my experience and knowledge helped me gain the battle and the procedures, guidelines and systems I implemented helped the company to considerably reduce the lapses to obtain environmental permits for their projects.

In Venezuela women and men in the oil and gas industry work together as equal to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives, this approach to team work doesn’t exist in QP where people has a tribal mindset and applies it at corporate level too.

It was also hard for me, as an independent woman to navigate some day to day things like shopping furniture and other stuff, as it is unusual that a woman alone does this kind of chores.


Did you integrate and adjust smoothly? What went well and what was hard?

I integrated to the latino community living in Doha quite easily at first. However, on time, I took distance from them and as I had just few friends out of this community, I became a little isolated. Also, as I was one of the few working women in the community, it made it harder to make friends.

One of the best things that happened to me was that a through a common friend I met a loving, caring and generous couple, who are my friends even now and who helped me navigate Doha at the settling period. Without their support, settling would have been a lot harder. After I arrived, I began to write a blog about my experiences in Qatar (venezolanaenqatar.blogspot) and through it lots of other Spanish speaking people contacted me for guidance and I get to meet and have friendship with some of them, paying forward the support I received, I also support them on their settling process.


Where you find inspiration from

I find inspiration from other women and men that have done what was required to reach their dreams, from the huge potential within each human being, from the wonders of nature and the human being, from the transformations I witness in clients, family and friends and from my own evolution and transformation through the years.


What is your current business?  Currently I’m developing my practice as Coach, Speaker and Writer, inspiring, empowering and supporting people to realize their talents, get clarity on what they want, create the life they want to live and regain their joy, sense of meaning and connection and satisfaction.


Was it difficult to start your business in a foreign country?  In the case of my practice as Coach, it has been difficult, as this kind of practice is not well recognized and accepted yet in the country and rules and regulations aren’t clearly defined. However, I always took this into account and decided to work mostly with international clients. What has been difficult is getting to know online marketing tricks and ways.


How you stay motivated

Revisiting my vision, reading it, updating it and having a daily mindset practice.


Useful resources for expats

I’d say that connecting with international groups such as Internations or in your case expatsHaarlem might be a good way to connect with other expats. Searching in Facebook for local groups is also useful.

If your host country has a different culture, respecting their views and norms is a way of showing them your respect and gaining their respect too.


What are your words of Wisdom?

As an expat, try to learn as much as you can about your host country culture, so you can gain love and respect for their manners and traditions.

As a human being, don’t let that your current circumstances define who you are and your future, find the way to give them a purpose and put them to work on your favor by being clear of what you want in the short, medium and long term for you and your life.


What is the worst that happened to you as an expat?

Being harassed by men who don’t understand the value, power and freedom a woman has and the respect she deserves.

About Cultural differences or misunderstanding: In my country, you can have male and female friends and it isn’t unusual to take a coffee or go for lunch with a male friend, so at the beginning I was friendly with some men but it turned out that when they invited me for a coffee, almost as soon as we order the coffee they came out with some sex proposals.

I learnt that men that were friendly with me, were in fact looking for “opportunities” for intimacy and advised by my boss, I began to use a fake wedding ring when doing chores and some shopping around the city.


Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country

  • Don’t accumulate things, the simpler your live the easier your relocation will be.
  • Learn about the culture, manners and traditions of your host country, you can’t appreciate and love what you don’t know.
  • Save as much as you can, global economy is changing and having a job is not stable.
  • Make a plan to make the best from your assignment as an expat.
  • Have friends from different nationalities, that will enrich your life in all ways.
  • Don’t compare yours and your host country.
  • Open your heart and your mind to learn and experience new traditions, flavors and ideas.
  • If you are a home stay wife/mum, find a passion to devote your time to, otherwise, you might end having shopping as your new hobby.
  • If you’ll be a home stay wife/mum in your new destination, consider identifying your talents, abilities and passions and your opportunities to create a portable career you can take with you to your next destination.


Thank you very much!