Case study: Oliver Nailard

Living abroad can be a fantastic adventure, says this engineer – but be prepared to adapt.

Oliver Nailard

Age: 28
Role: Offshore project engineer
Employer: Rolls-Royce (Marine)
Qualifications: MSci Physics and Space Research from the University of Birmingham

After graduating, I was offered a job as an Aerospace Engineer within Rolls-Royce, based in the UK. After working in this position for a few years I decided to pursue different avenues within the company.

As a physicist, I felt I was equipped with a broad skill-set and had the ability to tackle a range of different subjects. This gave me the confidence to engage in avenues outside of what I would characterise as my mainstream field. When I expanded my horizons in that sense it quickly became apparent that there were not only other fields available to me, but that a lot of these options existed outside of the UK.

I’ve had the opportunity to live and work for significant periods of time in India, Scandinavia and Africa. In these locations I’ve worked as an aerospace and marine engineer and also developed experience in engineering and business management. I never even considered having the chance to do these things when I first started out. I passionately believe these opportunities have been derived from my physics background.

Living and studying abroad means stepping away from the world you are used to, this is fantastic adventure. At the same time, it is not a holiday, and you will be forced to think of different things from a new perspective.

Interaction with family and friends becomes disrupted, your current social routine will cease to exist. You will be forced to adapt. You might find yourself distanced from UK life and all that it brings. For example, I was unable to go to London to see the Olympics in 2012 and really felt the distance.

Depending on your situation settling in can be both an exciting and lonely time. On the one side, moving to a new location can feel like going on holiday which of course is unfortunately not the case. On the other side, you can find yourself isolated because you are not used to the environment, culture and have no way to pass your free time once the novelty of a new location has worn off.

Some locations may have large expat communities that can make any transition easier. But be careful, these do not often represent what a place is really like to live in or what the local people are like.

When I look at the opportunities and experiences I’ve been afforded by working outside of the UK it appears to be the right choice for me. You learn to adapt to a new environment and work with new people and cultures. You find new ways of approaching a situation and new methods to use in your everyday work and social life. You tend to be given more responsibility in your working life and those who have spent time abroad tend to be regarded as having greater experience than those who stay within the UK.

It is all a balance and it can work both ways but living outside the UK has been a good thing for me.