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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 10:43 GMT
Expat e-mail: Papua New Guinea
Andrew Masters, 29, left a blustery Brighton last December to take up a job in the south Pacific. In the first of a new series featuring expatriate readers of BBC News Online, Andrew tells of his new life.

I came out here on a British government scheme to work as an economist for the Papua New Guinean government. It's my first time abroad.

I do miss cold English mornings

I'm submerged in not one, but two new cultures here in Port Moresby - Papua New Guinean and Australian. There are large numbers of Aussies here as it's so close - less than an hour's flight from Cairns.

I've developed a bit of a twang from hanging around with all the Australians. I can no longer say "water" properly, it comes out like "warder" and I've picked up "fair dinkum" and all that nonsense. I'm also learning a bit of Pidgin, such as "em nau" for "that's right".

Port Moresby is 9,000 miles from Brighton
What Andrew misses most is marmalade
When the Economist Intelligence Unit rated Port Moresby as the worst city to live in - 130th out of 130 - it caused a bit of consternation here.

They clearly didn't take into account the great diving you can do or the fact that you can leave Port Moresby and fly up to the Highlands or off to a Pacific island for the weekend. Instead the report focused quite heavily on the poor security situation.

There is unrest, so I don't have the freedom of movement that I had in England. I no longer walk everywhere, and we have to move from one compound to another for work. I miss strolling around in public areas, which you just can't do in Port Moresby.

But the real culture shock is the way things work - or don't work. Dealing with bureaucrats and officials is much slower than at home.

While marmalade is available in PNG, it's just not the same
Andrew pines for real English marmalade
I miss friends and family in England, and I miss the climate. I do miss cold, misty mornings and the change in seasons. The weather here is a strict 23C to 36C, so it's hot and humid the entire year.

And I miss British marmalade - I really miss it! I'll be buying up several pots when I'm home for Christmas.

But I'm lucky in that where I live is a step up. I've got a lovely apartment right by the beach overlooking the sea.

There's even turtle meat on sale, but I won't buy it

The cost of living is surprisingly expensive, it's almost like living in Europe. I can give you the marmalade price index: a jar costs 15 kina - about 2.20 - so it's not cheap.

This is because lots of goods are imported from Australia - we even get fresh milk flown in each day. This is because Port Moresby is a little island; it's almost cut off in terms of road transport.

Port Moresby
Port Moresby: Rated low in a survey of ex-pats
But the markets sell locally caught seafood such as lobster and mud crabs for next to nothing compared to the UK. There's even turtle, although I would never buy it. Some restaurants have crocodile on the menu, and you can also get whole roasted pigs delivered by someone called Freddy. People often do this for parties and gatherings.

Despite its difficulties, PNG is a fascinating place to live and work. The culture is so diverse, and the people are very friendly. Perfect strangers greet me for a chat and everyone waves at each other all day - people just don't do that in the UK.

That said, I do miss Brighton and the beach - although people here laugh when I tell them it has no sand and say, "call that a beach?"

Every Tuesday we bring you the story of a Briton who has upped sticks and moved abroad. Do you live far from home? Tell us your experiences, using the form below.

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Every e-mail sent will be read, and we will get in touch if we need more details.

See also:

20 Sep 02 | Country profiles
04 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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