Welcome to the Expat Empire Podcast! Tune into this first short introduction episode to hear what the Expat Empire Podcast is all about! David McNeill, the host of the podcast, discusses:
- His background as an expat in Asia and Europe
- The genesis and goals of Expat Empire
- What you can start looking forward to in your podcast feed in the coming weeks
Learn more about Expat Empire at expatempire.com!
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David McNeill: Welcome to the Expat Empire Podcast, the podcast where you can hear from expats around the world and learn how you can join them.
Hello and welcome to the very first episode of the Expat Empire Podcast! I’m your host, David McNeill, broadcasting to you from Berlin, Germany.
My goal in releasing this first short episode is to give you an overview of what you can expect from the Expat Empire Podcast in the coming weeks as well as a little insight into my background.
The Expat Empire Podcast is made by expats, for expats and is intended for everyone with an interest in living and working abroad. Whether you are trying to move abroad for the very first time, or simply want to hear other expats’ stories, this is the podcast for you!
The Expat Empire Podcast will primarily be a collection of interviews with current and previous expats from awesome cities across the globe. Compared to other podcasts out there that focus on telling funny expat stories and leave you wanting to know more about how you can make your own move to Sydney, London, or Bali, I will do my best to ask the tough questions about finding a job, getting a visa, finding housing, and much more that can help you to join the community of expats around the world.
Now that you know a bit about the Expat Empire Podcast, let me tell you about my background and why I started Expat Empire. I grew up in the United States and my interest in traveling and living abroad started at a very young age. I had a few wonderful travel experiences with my family that left me with the feeling that there was much more to see and experience in the world than I would be able to find just within my home country, and so over time, my interest in living abroad grew.
I developed a deep interest in Japan in middle school and started studying Japanese with hopes of living there one day. I finally made my first trip there in high school on a one-month travel and exchange program, and to was everything I had hoped for and much more. I decided to study business and Japanese in university to see if I could make the move to Japan one day.
I had hoped to study abroad in Japan while in university, but there were no programs there that offered the classes that I would need to be able to graduate on time. I decided to spend a semester in Singapore instead, and that ended up being one of the very best decisions I made as a student. I spent those four months traveling and meeting people from around the world. Though I still held a desire to live in Japan, my study abroad experience showed me that I could flourish in many countries around the world, not only the one that I had been focusing on for all of those years.
I was not able to find a full-time position in Japan upon graduating from university, so I began my career in investment banking in North Carolina. I quickly discovered that finance, and North Carolina, were not places where I wanted to spend the rest of my career, and so two years later I took the opportunity to move to San Francisco, California within the same bank. Four months after that, I managed to find a product manager position at a mobile free-to-play gaming company and finally left the finance world for good.
Eight months after joining the new gaming company, all of the product managers were offered the chance to work for a three-month period in either the Vancouver or Beijing offices. I volunteered for both offices and was ultimately sent to Beijing. I did not know what to expect in Beijing but I had a great time, and the experience immediately reignited my drive to live and work abroad.
I arrived back in San Francisco with hopes of going back to China for a second longer stint but was then unfortunately caught up in a round of layoffs only one month later. Though disheartened, I quickly decided that I would not let that temporary setback keep me from making my dreams of living abroad a reality. I soon left on a two-month backpacking trip through Europe and started taking interviews with companies in both China and Japan via Skype while staying at hostels and Airbnbs. After many, many rejections, I finally got an offer to work at the Tokyo office of ASICS, the sportswear company, right after arriving back in San Francisco. I left the US only two months later with a work visa in hand for the country I had been dreaming about living in for more than a decade.
Tokyo was as amazing as I had remembered it to be, and I could not believe I had finally achieved my dream. I was working on a digital product for the company as a mobile app marketer and then later as product manager over those two years.
During that time, some changes in the company structure put my position at risk, and I knew that I needed to move on to a new challenge. I searched high and low in Japan for a role that excited me and paid me the salary that I wanted, but after 50 applications, I still had no offers to show for my hard work. I needed to try something else fast.
It was then that I thought back to my trip through Europe and the few glorious days I spent in Berlin. Something about the city appealed to me in a way that most other cities I visited during the trip did not. After less than 24 hours in Berlin, I knew that I needed to spend much more time there to explore more than I would be able to see just as a tourist. I started searching out interesting positions in Berlin, and in the end, I had a job offer before I even had the chance to step on the flight that I had booked to network and interview around the city. My roundtrip had turned into a one-way, and two weeks later I left Japan for a brand new adventure in Germany.
That flight was more than two years ago now, and I am living in Berlin working for my third company since moving here. After many months getting settled in this crazy city, I finally feel very comfortable calling it home and live a great life experiencing the best of what the city has to offer while making my way around Europe on cheap Ryanair and EasyJet flights on the weekends.
Though my story may sound like a lot of fun from the outside, I can assure you that it was not always easy. I had many difficulties that I have had to deal with along the way, the same ones that most expats have to tackle when they move abroad.
I also noticed in these experiences that there is not much good information for expats centralized in one single place on the Internet. Expat-related content is scattered across small blogs and typically does not offer much in-depth or really useful information. I started Expat Empire to solve that problem and help other people around the world to realize their dreams of working abroad. I launched it in July 2018 alongside the release of my first book, Passport to Working in Japan, which is all about my experiences getting to Japan along with tons of advice about how others can do the same.
I am starting this podcast and writing blogs to provide inspiration and advice for others trying to make their way abroad. My goal is to release a new podcast episode every 2 weeks, but it may fall at times to every 3-4 weeks. Though I cannot promise that I will be able to keep up this schedule, I will certainly do my best. It would be great if you could hit the Subscribe button in the podcasting app of your choice so that you can get alerted when a new episode is released. You can also visit expatempire.com and sign up for the newsletter to get a ton of free content like the first chapter of my Passport to Working in Japan book, free travel guides, and much more. We are also on Facebook and Twitter at expatempire so be sure to follow us there. Last but not least, please leave us a 5-star review on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and tell your friends about us to show your support!
Thank you for tuning in to this very first episode of the Expat Empire Podcast! I hope it has made you just as excited as I am for the episodes to come, and I hope you will join us for our next episode very shortly. See you then!