Tag Archives: Expat

Calling All Expats: Opportunity to Lead Students Abroad

I love that through this blog I have met so many great people around the world. It has only enhanced my ability to be global from home by extending my international network. For all my lovely expat readers and friends that I have met through the blogosphere, I have an opportunity that wanted to share.

I am looking to hire expats as On-site Program Coordinators for our short-term faculty-led programs through CISabroad. If you are someone who is currently living outside of the U.S. and would be interested in guiding a group of college students and their professor around your host country, this is the perfect gig. The primary role of this position is to facilitate the in-country implementation of the assigned program and provide safety/emergency support as needed. During the program, the On-Site Program Coordinator is responsible for managing the day-to-day logistics of the assigned customized program and providing in-country support to both the leading faculty and CISabroad students. These positions are contracted and last anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks. We cover all travel expenses, food, housing, and provide a small stipend.

If you or someone you know might be interested in working with me at CISabroad this spring/summer, I would love to answer questions. You can check out the position and find directions to apply on the CISabroad Career page.

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Abroad Blog of the Week: Lottie Nevin

If you haven’t already subscribed to this Abroad Blog of the Week, you’ll want to. I came across Lottie Nevin when I first started blogging about six months ago. I was hooked by Lottie’s blunt honesty but humorous take on the difficulties of being a Brit new to Jakarta. She is also a fabulous story-teller and frequently weaves previous life experiences into her present day predicaments. Lottie just celebrated her one-year blog birthday (huge congrats!) and her blog is a great source of funny advice for anyone considering a move to Indonesia. Want proof? Just keep reading for my interview with Lottie…I promise she’ll have you laughing by the end.

Looking back on this first year of living in Jakarta, what are you most proud of?

My greatest achievement thus far, is managing to avoid falling into any of the open sewers that are such an attractive feature of Jakarta. I’m proud of that but then I seem to remember a saying that ‘Pride comes before a fall’ so maybe I should think of something else?

I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t gone totally mad from living in Jakarta. With the best will in the world, I doubt very much that it features on anyone’s bucket list of destinations but it’s our home for the moment so I’ve had to step up quickly to the mark and embrace the good, the bad and the ugly side of living here which if I’m honest, is not always easy.

I’m also very proud and somewhat relieved of not getting run over trying to cross the notoriously busy Jakartan roads. Crossing any road here could be described as something of an extreme sport. It certainly helps to have a sense of humour and the patience of a saint, because you can bet your bottom dollar, that whatever you have planned for your day will not go smoothly. In case you were wondering, I have neither.

How do you handle the attention you get from being a blonde, British woman in Indonesia?

The blonde hair does get noticed, and that coupled with me being a good foot and half taller and at least 3 foot wider than most women here, makes me stick out like a sore thumb which sometimes I find difficult. We don’t live in an expat area of Jakarta so if I’m out and about walking, the sighting of another western women is a rare occurrence. In Bali it’s different because being a holiday destination there are plenty of blonde Australians, which means I blend seamlessly into the environment.

Have you picked up any new habits since you’ve lived abroad?

Ah, that’s an interesting question. Habits, yes, I’ve certainly picked up some new bad habits over the past year, wearing a dastah (Indonesian onesie) for example, which went down like a lead balloon with my husband. I’ve had to wean myself off wearing them as he gave me an ultimatum. Not enough exercise is another. Because of that, I am now almost spherical and resemble the apple motif on the front of my laptop. My best new habit is probably starting writing a blog. I’ve discovered so many great blogs in the past year, and since starting my own I’ve met up with other bloggers in the flesh so to speak and subsequently made some good friends. I also now write for an expat website, a glossy magazine in Jakarta, and best of all, I get emails from people who’ve stumbled across my blog on the internet and want advice on moving to Indonesia. I’m always delighted to hear from people and it’s a good feeling being able to offer advice, and help in any way that I can.

Do you think you’ll ever get used to Indonesian bathroom culture?

Never in a month of Sundays will I get used to Indonesian squat and drop type toilets. There’s something very off-putting about having to place ones feet on the ceramic paddles either side of it, and hover over a hole. After one too many Bintangs, it can also be a perilous balancing exercise. The sit down toilets aren’t a lot better because the seats are generally covered in dirty footmarks from the Indonesian ladies who don’t like sitting and prefer to scramble up onto the seat to squat. Not least the fact that toilet paper is rarer than hens teeth in these parts. Instead, there is an apparatus resembling something akin to a high-pressure hose that is supposed to be used for washing afterwards. I’ve never managed to use one without soaking the bathroom and myself from head to foot.

Which is your favorite post from your blog?

My favourite post? That’s quite difficult to answer because I’ve enjoyed writing all of them.  I know that there have been certain posts that have proved popular with people who follow me, but I think My Pelvic Floor and Our Move to the 12th Floor is definitely one of my favourites. I like it when I can weave things that have happened in my past into what I am writing about here in Indonesia.

What considerations should someone contemplate before moving abroad to Southeast Asia?

I think it very much depends on where you are going to be living in S.E Asia. Thailand is  different from Indonesia and so are Malaysia and especially Singapore. Indonesia is the largest modern Islamic state in the world. Culturally it is very different from the UK which is where I was brought up. It’s certainly important to do your homework before moving out here so my advice is check out expat websites, read expat blogs, and find out as much as you can about all the cultural differences, especially if you are moving from the west.

Something that I read prior to our move, and at the time made very little sense to me but which nonetheless stuck in my mind, was the line ‘when moving to Indonesia give up on the idea of ever having any control over anything. If you need/want to be in control, you will not last 5 minutes here’ or words to that effect. Having lived here for just over a year, those words now make perfect sense to me.

Abroad Blog of the Week: Taking Nominations

Image credit: birdsandshoes.com

Well, dear readers, I need your help. After more than 20 great Abroad Blogs of the Week, I want your recommendations and nominations. Who should I be reading? Who is doing great stuff abroad? Who have you added to your reader recently? If you write a great abroad blog or know of someone who does, read through the directions below and nominate your favorite abroad blogger via my new form. I can’t wait to get some new reading recommendations!

Criteria to be an Abroad Blog of the Week:

  1. The blogger must either be about to go abroad, currently abroad, or recently returned from abroad
  2. The blog must predominately be about culture/travel
  3. Posts should be fairly regular (at least once or twice a week).

Requirements to be an Abroad Blog of the Week:

  1. Let me ask you 4-6 questions via email
  2. Send back your responses by the following Monday
  3. If you want (i.e. this is not a requirement), welcome any new readers from Global from Home the day I post our interview.

Easy, peasy.

If you would like your blog to be an Abroad Blog of the Week or know of another blog you think I should scope out, let me know! You can anonymously submit your nominations at the Abroad Blog of the Week Nomination Form.

 

Meet Up and the Girly Book Club

Last night I did my first Meet Up event in OKC. If you’re not familiar with Meet Up, it is probably one of the easiest ways to meet new people who share your interests. Looking for a language group in your city? Go on Meet Up. Want a group of women to go to the theater with you? Meet Up is where you can find them. And if a group doesn’t already exist, you can always make one yourself. Now I will admit that some cities have more vibrant Meet Ups than others but it is fairly wide-spread. I just found Meet Ups in Rome, Buenos Aires, and Shanghai. Any poker players in Shanghai? They have a Meet Up.

For my first OKC Meet Up, I joined a lovely group of women for the Girly Book Club. The Girly Book Club was actually started in London by a woman named Erin. The London Club now has over 1400 members and regularly packs out. Erin decided to spread her vision and as friends moved to new places she asked them to bring the club with them. In addition to the OKC Girly Book Club, groups have also started in Denver, Melbourne, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, Toronto, and Wellington. Each club reads the same book every month with recommendations coming from all the clubs.

I have to say that last night was one of the most enjoyable experiences as a new person to OKC. It first started with an email from Laura, the OKC host of the group. She welcomed me personally, introduced herself, and told me exactly what to expect. When I arrived at Full Circle Bookstore (an incredible local bookstore), I got my name tag and bought a drink from the little cafe. When I sat down, I was immediately engaged in conversation. The group of 32 was a great mix of women between the ages of 20-60. It was split between locals and transplants from around the country. After everyone introduced themselves, we talked about the book The Night Circus (one of my favorites). Various people asked questions and almost everyone chimed in. There was no talking over each other and everyone seemed genuinely interested in what others had to say. By the end of the evening, I felt sure that this was a group I’d like to return to. And while I didn’t leave with a new best friend, I think it is a place I can connect.

Abroad Blog of the Week: Our Dear Lady Expatriate

This Abroad Blog of the Week comes from one of my dream locations: Cambodia! Our Dear Lady Expatriate (or ODLE for short) was introduced to me by a study abroad colleague and friend, and I’ve now been reading her posts for several weeks. Although ODLE’s blog is just a few months old, her experience living abroad and teaching English is extensive. After living in South Korea for several years, she now finds herself in Cambodia and exploring her new host country. Her blog is full of fun fashion for the ESL teacher, weekly recommended links, and expat tips for living in Cambodia. I was able to catch up with the fun-loving Our Dear Lady Expatriate for a virtual interview and learn more about how her expat life all got started.

1. What got you started teaching English abroad and living the expat life?

I grew up in rural Ontario, and I never knew that a life like this was possible. I remember the excitement of going to university in Ottawa and thinking it to be such an immense city. During first year, I vividly remember attending a free information session about teaching ESL abroad and having my universe split open with possibilities. After the info session, I went straight home and wrote my Mom a 3 page email trying to persuade her to let me ‘take a break’ from university and go travel. Her reply was a definitive ‘no way’, and that was that…
…Until, in fourth year, I was connected, via a mutual friend on Facebook, to a rather handsome fella who was living and teaching in England. A whirlwind long-distance romance ensued, and despite only having ever visited each other for three weeks total over the next year, we made plans to run away together to Korea as soon as I graduated. Somehow we made it through the first year of getting to know each other in a foreign country while living in a studio apartment, and have been happily rambling about ever since.
So, at first, teaching was really just a tool that I used to attain the traveling life I desired. Since taking that initial contract, though, I’ve found that I was lucky enough to stumble upon my passion, and now teaching English is so much more than just a way to fund a ticket: it’s my chosen career, and I couldn’t be happier.

2. You’ve been abroad for some time. What made you decide to start your lovely blog just a few months ago?

Combine the fact that I’ve been obsessed with reading blogs for years with my general propensity towards writing, brainstorming and ‘doing,’ and I’m surprised it’s taken this long, too! Partly, I credit a couple of blogs that I’ve recently found and deeply connected with. Both the diverse mix of content on Yes and Yes and the work ethic of the girls at A Beautiful Mess have been inspiring, as has the success of each of these blogs and the strong community aspect of each.

Really, I think the ‘aha’ moment came when I was trying to find blogs in the ’20-something female expat living in Cambodia’ niche and came up empty. In fact, there are so many great backpacker blogs discussing this region (Grrrl Traveler, for one), but it can be a bit tricky to find quality stay-put-expat lifestyle blogs that regularly post. The discovery of this massive gap really acted as a swift kick to my behind to try my hand at generating my own content.

3. With your adventure-seeking taste buds, is there any type of food in Cambodia you won’t try?

Actually, I’m afraid you’re giving me more credit than I’m due! In any group, I’m bound to be the least likely to try the ‘odd’ items on the menu, and up until about a year ago, I was totally vegetarian. I constantly feel less than adventurous when dining out with my Partner In Crime, who tends to zero in on dishes like “Sea Cucumber Covered In Black Ant Sauce”. HOWEVER. One of my upcoming goals before my 27th birthday (the rest of which will be announced at the start of September on my site!) is to try frog, and another is to give fresh durian a proper go. Maybe they will be the turn-over-a-new-leaf moments that I’ve been waiting for? I really would love to amass some crazy food stories to shock my Grandma and my buddies alike! Stay tuned!

4. How has your move to Cambodia been different from your move to South Korea?

Personally, the first time I moved to Korea, at age 21, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that I was moving there with this guy who I was pretty sure I was in love with, and that it was a foreign country, bound to be chock-full of adventure. As aforementioned, the prospect of teaching really didn’t have that much to do with anything at that point. Now, discovering new systems of education in each country is a major part of the appeal, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to try out different methods, such as Montessori. Experience has also bestowed a confidence in myself that I know I’ll be able to hack it anywhere, which was glaringly absent throughout that first year in Korea!
Logistically, the two are very different. South Korea requires a lot of prep while still in your home country, but your travel expenses are paid and you walk into a life that’s been set up for you. In Cambodia, you hand out resumes in person and need to take care of travel and lodging yourself. In hindsight, I’m glad I got my expat footing in Korea before being left to my own devices in Cambodia.

5. How is learning Khmer going?

Well, I’m a month and a half into living here, and I’ve got the essentials (like giving directions) figured out, but little else. I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the bits and pieces that I know, though! Truly, every time I’ve attempted to speak in Khmer, I’ve gotten a lovely reaction from the listener, even if I’ve botched it. It’s very encouraging, and I’ve really been motivated by sincerely wanting to speak with the people around. The focus of the first couple of weeks was to set up my little life and to nab a job or two, and now I’m ready to dig in, starting with working on the pronunciation of common sounds, which are quite distinct from English. I’m keen to have my students stop giggling when I butcher the pronunciation of their names when calling attendance!

6. Do you have any “learn from my mistake” advice for future ESL teachers/expats?

For anyone moving to Korea, I would absolutely recommend putting the few days of study into learning how to read Hangul. It’s not nearly as difficult as you might imagine, and it will give you such a greater sense of belonging in your new home. I also generally found learning Korean gave me more empathy towards my students. The icing on the cake is that it will never fail to impress people (outside Korea) that you can phonetically read another alphabet! I wish I’d put the effort in the first time around.
I would also say that if you’re living in South Korea, there’s little excuse for not saving half your pay check. I didn’t do this the first year, and I cannot tell you where that money went. Cute stationery and hair bows? I don’t know! That’s something I did entirely differently the second year I lived there: every month, on the day I was paid, I would immediately send a pretty sizable chunk to my Canadian bank account. Soju’s cheap, Korean restaurants are cheap, transportation’s cheap, renting singing rooms is cheap – use the opportunity to bank some cash and fund some amazing future travels!

Thanks Our Dear Lady Expatriate for the interview!

Abroad Blog of the Week: News from a Broad

I love when I find a blog that makes me think, “Wow, I hope I could do that someday.” This Abroad Blog of the Week definitely falls into that category. News from A Broad is written from the beautiful colonial town of Merida, Mexico by Benne’, an art therapist who picked up her life in Texas and moved abroad. Her blog intertwines art therapy projects, life as an expat, culture experiences, and simple inspiration. Benne’ starts each post with a quote and from there, paints a picture with her words. I was fortunate to connect with Benne’ through the blogosphere and ask her a few questions about life in Mexico as an expat.
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You took some time to explore Mexico before you settled down. What was your criteria for your new home town?

Yes, I explored most of Mexico over 20 years before I discovered the Yucatan Peninsula.  I was looking for a city that had colonial charm, an international airport, contemporary arts & music spaces, as well as deep cultural roots.  Merida is steeped in historical connections between the Maya and Spain.  Having grown-up in New Orleans, Merida captures my love of Spanish and French architecture.

Now that all of your belongings have made it to Merida, what were you most glad to have back?

Two years is a long time to have things in storage.  Even with a detailed manifest, I don’t think I had a solid memory of my own belongings.  When I opened the tote with pictures of my children, spanning their entire lives, I was emotionally flooded.  I had visited with both of them just a two weeks prior.  We are all in our adult lives!  Their images took me to times when their little toes looked like nibblets of corn – precious enough to bite!

How has art therapy helped you adjust to your new life?

I’ve been an artist my entire life, and an art therapies for half.  I find that my creative processes has given me a way of manifesting, through my own creation, the life that I want for myself.  The last six years of my career in the US was spent counseling children in very high risk living situations.  Taking a one-year hiatus to build this life in Mexico has given me an opportunity to recover from the vicarious trauma therapists often experience when working with trauma victims.  Looking at every step required to make this move as creative acts, and particularly the steps over the last year, has helped me allow the process of immigration to unfold without my help!  Art Therapy often pushes us out of our own way.

Do you think it is ever possible for an expat to feel like a local in their adopted city?

I do think that it is possible for expatriates to feel fully integrated.  I had many friends in Austin, Texas that did the reverse of what I am doing.  We crossed the same river, with similar dreams.  I have an increased level of compassion for those friends, and to be honest, my comprehension of how daunting the process can be, has left me in a state of awe.  Those friends made incredible journeys.  They arrived with minimal language, and limited resources.  Under these conditions, they shaped their own experience, and marked the lives of those around them.  I suspect, that an immigrant will always be a bit of an outsider simply because there are cultural was of understanding words, that a language class can never capture.  However, at the root of all people is a core that side steps words, and that is where the deepest connections exist.

What advice would you give someone who is contemplating the life of an expat?

It will lower the stresses of daily living if you have at least a rudimentary understanding of the language of your new country.  You will have more fluid interactions, a wider selection for friendships, and a much easier time adjusting to the cultural differences.  Visit your adopted country as often as possible before you make the final move.  I know a few people who just made that leap of faith and have done fine, but the majority of those that have decided to start over, and by that I mean shedding all connection with their former lives, end up unhappy, never fully adjusting to their new life.  Go beyond expecting change from your move!  Make the efforts to court the dynamics that will alter you.  By this I mean take risk like getting lost on a drive, learn to ask for help, and just revel in the vulnerability!

News from A Broad Quilt

Abroad Blog of the Week: Born Again Brazilian

Although a little later that usual, I am proud to bring you the Abroad Blog of the Week! I found Born Again Brazilian about a month ago and since then have been fascinated with her project of becoming Brazilian. This American-born blogger moved to Sao Paolo from NYC about two years ago with her Brazilian husband and little girl. But on January 1st of this year, she took on a new challenge – do one Brazilian thing every day and blog about the venture. She is now +203 days into her journey and has even survived being Brazilian in Chicago (I’d say that’s is pretty global-from-home-worthy). On top of all that, Born Again Brazilian was so gracious to give me a last minute interview. THANK YOU!!! Here’s what she had to say:

Now that you are +203 days into your Brazilian Challenge, what is your favorite challenge so far?

While the travel experience and the food tasting challenges are the most fun, my favorites are the ones that are really kind of scary and challenge me in both the culture and language. So I’d have to say that my very favorite is “The Exams” when I spent the morning experiencing the Brazilian medical exam center system and learning all sort of new vocabulary.

You’ve been State-side for almost six weeks. How hard has it been to be Brazilian in Chicago?

Harder than I thought. Chicago doesn’t have a large Brazilian community like New York and Los Angeles, so I’ve been limited on food, art and entertainment venues. But it has forced me to test my Brazilian behavior skills, which gets me closer to the original goal of my blog – to become more Brazilian.

What do you prefer: Brazilian parenting styles or American parenting styles?

That’s difficult because parenting styles vary within both cultures. But I feel like American parents are much more involved in the details of their children’s lives. Brazilians tend to put less importance on day-to-day participation and feel it is acceptable to pass tasks, like bathing and feeding, off to others. My mothering mindset is more aligned with the American way, probably because of my American upbringing. But I have witnessed a few American expat mothers adapt into the Brazilian parenting style quite easily.

Who speaks better Portuguese, you or your daughter?

My daughter. Hands down.

What advice would you give someone trying to assimilate into another culture?

I just published “10 Tips for Surviving Sao Paulo,” on my blog. I think all ten pretty much apply to anyone assimilating into another culture. But the one main clue to adaptation is to know that you need help. Most larger cities have organizations for expats and I would highly recommend seeking out those groups for information and support.