Home Away From Home

Gaining work experience abroad is a bittersweet experience. You experience a new culture, but that often comes with sharing a flat the size of a toilet cubicle with nine compatriots. While his friends in London brace themselves for a long and bitter winter, Paul Waldburger continues to enjoy a far warmer (and no less lucrative) life in Bermuda. We spoke to him between a morning on the beach and an afternoon on the golf course.

Was it easy to find a job?
I work in accounting, so it was pretty easy to find job - accounting jobs are boring, people don't really want to do accounting. I think it basically depends what you want to do. The more lucrative jobs are in the reinsurance industry (Bermuda is a big reinsurance centre), but it can be hard to get a job in that sector.

Did you need a visa/was it hard to get?
You don't need a visa for a holiday here, but if you are coming to work you'll need a work permit. It depends on what sort of work you're doing, but for a qualified profession those are pretty easy to come by as there's a shortage of employees here. For other work (manual labour or construction, for instance, it's pretty difficult to get a permit). The permit usually takes about three months to process.

Are there many South Africans there?
There are actually more Saffers here than you would think. I would say about 500 out of total population of 60 000. Most of us are working in qualified professions - accountants, lawyers etc - and are in the 25 - 35 age bracket.

What's the weather/lifestyle like?
The lifestyle is exceptionally good; very outdoorsy, sporty, beachy, that sort of thing. Most people drive around on scooters. You don't have to worry about things like traffic or parking. The weather is good too, quite similar to the weather in KZN (hot and humid in summer, most days around 30 degrees and winter mild, around 18 - 20 degrees. There's not much rain - we usually get a rainy day once a month or so. Other than that just there's the occasional thunderstorm.

Describe a normal weekend?
I'm usually out and about in the town area on a Friday night on the strip of bars, restaurants. It's very First World, very modern, and the restaurants have great food. There's a great, festive social vibe. I'll usually play golf either on Saturday or Sunday morning, often both days, then hit the beach in the afternoon. We'll have braais in the evenings or else out for dinner. I'll do some jet skiing or water skiing/wake boarding on Sundays, lunch on the beachfront café or else just spend the day on the beach.

What do you miss most about SA?
The weather and the lifestyle is very similar to back home, so I don't really miss any material stuff. Obviously I miss family and friends. Bermuda is a small island – only 40km x 1 km – so I do miss the wide open spaces of SA. I've always viewed my time in Bermuda as a sort of glorified two-year working holiday, and that I'm going to make the most of every day, with the point of view that I'm heading home afterwards, so with that sort of attitude I don't think you miss home that much.

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