Monday, 15 December 2014

How to Beat Boredom on Long-Haul Flights



Being an expat, the eventuality of being stuck on a long-haul flight is rather difficult to escape.  Sat in one spot for over 10 hours inevitably becomes very boring, especially after the initial excitement of the in-flight entertainment has withered away.  Here are a few ways for you to beat the boredom next time you find yourself on a long haul flight:

1. In-flight yoga

Moving and stretching after you have been sat in the same position for a long time will have positive psychological and physical effects.  Doing this helps get your circulation going and may reduce any anxiety you may have.  If you’re stuck for moves, there are some great guides to in-flight yoga positions available online.

Image Source: Creative Commons/Pixabay
 2. Games

Games can be a great way to occupy a bored mind.  Traditional pen and paper games such as Sudoku and crosswords are perfect if you’re travelling alone or have sleeping companions.  If you are the owner of a tablet device, many classic board games are available digitally. Some in-flight entertainment systems even have games and quizzes to play against other passengers on the flight!

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Wikimedia
3. Reading

Books are one of the best ways of passing time, taking you into another world – use the long flight to make headway on that reading list you’ve put off or even to read a book set in the place you’re about to visit. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, pick up some magazines from the airport before you set off.   For anyone with tired eyes, podcasts and audiobooks can also provide hours of entertainment (or, at the worst, talk you to sleep).
Image Source: Creative Commons/Gaelx
 4. Snacks

Having a selection of available snacks at the ready will give you a pick-me-up when feeling frustrated or bored.  Nuts and dried fruit make for a great in-flight nibble as they release energy slowly throughout the flight.
Image Source: Creative Commons/ Christmas Stock Images

5. Sleeping

If you are lucky enough to be able to sleep on flights, it is probably the ultimate way to beat boredom by making the journey go very quickly. For those that struggle, pack your ear plugs and eye mask to help you block out airplane hustle and bustle. 

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Friday, 12 December 2014

You know you grew up aboard when….

Growing up abroad is an incredible start to life. Experiencing new cultures, different people, food, sights, sounds and smells at such a young age provides you with a rich childhood full of excitement. This unique start has even gained its own term of ‘third culture’. According to our 2014 Expat Explorer survey, 62% of expats feel a strong connection  with their new home,  for expat children home can mean identifying with a variety of cultures (for more on third culture, read the post here). If this sounds like you, see if our top five symptoms of growing up abroad sound familiar:

No-one has the same childhood memories
While people sit around and avidly discuss their favourite childhood memories to responses of ‘I remember that!’ the conversation isn’t quite as clear cut for you.  Whether it’s a favourite cartoon that was only shown in the Middle East, a treat that you can only buy in Asia or a different style of schooling, your eclectic mix of childhood passions is never quite the same as anyone else’s. 

Image Source: Pixabay/alberto15886

Holiday is actually a trip back to another ‘home’
Most children dream of holidays to Disneyland. This may still have been the case for you, but in reality the real excitement in holidays lay in trips back to the other ‘home’. Catching up with family and friends was all the holiday entertainment you needed while resorts gave way to visiting relatives in far flung destinations. No-on else quite understands how a dose of everyday life in your old home was so much fun!

Image Source: Pixabay/ skipp604

Calling a friend ‘local’ if they still lived in the same continent
Everyone speaking the same language at the table? Everyone born in the same country? The notion of having friends from one area is alien to you having grown up with a global network of pals, and learnt to maintain relationships with letters, emails and video calling. Friends no longer have to be seen every day or live down the road to occupy a place in your heart. You are so used to friends being all over the world, that  being in the same continent, never mind the same country feels ‘close’ to you.

Image Source: Pixabay/cherylholt

Fast food is not universal
Most people assume your standard Fast Food is universal, you know this not to be true. Take the humble hamburger. In Japan it may contain shrimp, in Switzerland can include a sausage, in Australia it will be made from lamb with a slice of beetroot on top whilst in New Zealand it will be accompanied with egg. Indian burgers can contain paneer cheese whilst the bap is replaced by rice in parts of Asia. It’s a good thing expats enjoy the variety, with 72% noting that they enjoy local food.

Image Source: Pixabay/kgberlin

Why waste time that could be spent exploring?
While some may be happy to let weekends and evenings pass in a lazy haze, you seize any opportunity to appreciate your surroundings. The life of an expat isn’t always certain, so you want to see as much of the incredible country you are in whilst you are there. From seeing the typical tourist traps, to uncovering the local’s favourites, there is always plenty to be seen and experienced.

Image Source: Flickr/ Dave O

If you weren’t a third culture child yourself, but you are raising your children as expats kids, never fear. While they may miss out on the occasional ‘childhood memories’ chat, there is plenty to be gained. Having experienced so much at such an early age is a blessing and is thought to lead to well-rounded and insightful individuals. 

Share your unique experiences from growing up abroad with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Three quirky workplace customs that every expat should know

Like with cultural practices, workplace customs vary from country to country so if you want to settle in smoothly, it’s important to do your research.  Here are three workplace customs that vary country to country.  


Image Source: Creative Commons/ Flazingo Photos

Timing
In the UK and US especially, time is considered an extremely valuable resource; waste someone’s time by arriving late and you will be considered rude and unreliable. If you miss an appointment with somebody it is also unlikely that you will get another shot.  Business deals are made with rapidity in high pressure environments.  In the Middle East however, business moves at a slower pace.  It may take weeks for business deals to be made, with careful deliberation taking precedence.  Furthermore, it is commonplace that people will arrive up to an hour late for meetings, so carry a book to keep yourself entertained.

Image Source: Creative Commons/Google Images

Refreshments
Anyone who has worked in an office in the UK will know that tea making is a frequent and important part of the day. The British tea etiquette – ensuring you offer everyone sat near you (within reasonable distance) a hot beverage as well – is very important to people.  Making a cup for yourself alone is often viewed as inconsiderate and even unfriendly. 
Unlike in the UK, when people may be glad for you to turn down a tea, in Asia and the Middle East the refusal of refreshments from your host is perceived as an act of disrespect, and an insult to their hospitality. 

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Ewan Roberts

Business Cards
In the UK and US, a business card is perhaps is merely a token used to pass on contact details, which we tend to shove in our back pocket.  However, this would not be a wise move when sealing a deal in Asia.  Particularly in China and Japan, a business card is taken very seriously, and viewed as a depiction of the individual in question.  Rather than tossing it aside, the business card should be received with both hands and reviewed with obvious interest. 

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Street food: the best, the worst, and the just-don't-go-there

One of the best parts of adjusting to an expat life is getting to try the local cuisine. Depending where you are, it’s likely you’ll find a whole array of brand new foodie adventures when you arrive, some of which are celebrated with lavish festivals.

If you’re just looking for a taster, street food is a delicious, fun and inexpensive way to get a feel for the variety of foods on offer. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know some local people and (if you’re feeling brave!) trying your hand at the local lingo.  Here is our pick of the best, as well as a few dishes that might make you hesitate before tucking in…

Thailand’s Pad Thai
Image source: Creative Commons/ Pedro Alonso

Thailand is widely renowned for its diverse and delicious street food, with Pad Thai being one of the most popular and well-known dishes.  For around 20-30 Baht (about 50p), customers can tuck into a delicious plate of noodles in a chilli and peanut sauce, with a choice of chicken, prawns or beef, which is freshly cooked for you in minutes. 

Brazil’s Açaí na tigela (Açaí bowl)
A healthy and refreshing Brazilian dish, Açaí na tigela consists of blended and sweetened açaí pulp (the juice from the fruit of palm trees), topped with fruits, granola and Guarana syrup.  The anti-oxidant properties of the açaí fruit are making the dish a popular choice for health conscious consumers in other parts of the world. 

Gili Trawangan’s night market 
As well as its beauty, Gili Trawangan (just off Lombok), is renowned for its nightly food market.  For the equivalent of £1, diners can fill up plates with a delicious combination of Balinese and Indonesian classics, including freshly made spring rolls, gado gado and a selection of curries.  With a seating area in the centre of the island, the market is also a fantastic social hub. 

Cambodia’s Edible Spiders
Image Source: Creative Commons/ Kseye

One of Cambodia’s most infamous delicacies is the deep fried spider.  The species of tarantula eaten is called the ‘a-ping’, and is served deep fried in a mixture of crushed garlic, sugar and salt.  Each spider is sold for around 5p, and is a popular attraction for daring tourists visiting Cambodia. 

China’s Deep Fried Pig Intestines

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Wikipedia

Also very popular in Hong Kong, deep fried pig intestines are one of the most commonly consumed street food dishes in China.  Deep fried and served with a choice of hoisin or chilli sauce, the intestines are eaten as a quick snack or a staple part of a meal.  Those who have tried the delicacy liken their texture to liver, and state they are definitely an acquired taste. 

Which country boasts the best street food you’ve tasted? Tweet us at @expatexplorer or leave a comment. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Three Road Trips Every Expat Should Take




As an expat, it is likely you are always on the lookout for more adventures.  Whether you want a chance to take in sights often overlooked on your daily commute, an opportunity to discover some hidden treasures or just an excuse to make a great playlist, the classic road trip is a fantastic way of doing it.  Whether you’re an established expat or are planning to move abroad soon, you’ve probably already caught the travel bug – so here is our pick of some of the best road trips out there to inspire your next one! 

French Riviera Road Trip
The coastline of Southeast France is often described as one of the most beautiful in the world, making it the perfect destination for a relaxing road trip.  With its pristine beaches and idyllic towns, the coastline is a fantastic destination to experience the beauty of the Mediterranean.  A popular route for crossing the French Riviera starts in Nice, goes through Grass, Venice, Monaco, and ends in Cannes.  As well as the views, the local cuisine will also make this a trip to remember. 

  Image Source: Creative Commons/ Catherine Chanel
South Island, New Zealand
Transport yourself to Middle Earth and experience one of the world’s most popular destinations for exploration and road trips.  Home to a uniquely diverse landscape, which inhabits waterfalls, beaches, glaciers and mountains, there is no chance of running out of things to do or see.  If adventure is your thing, there’s opportunity to get your adrenaline fix along the way; bungee jumps, skydiving and zipwires are dotted around the Island.

Image Source: Creative Commons/ Darkelf Photography

Route 66, USA
Considered the ultimate road trip by many, Road 66 is perhaps the most famous stretch of road in the world.  Stretching over 8 states, Route 66 will take you all the way from Illinois to California.  Indulge in burgers from classic American diners and fill up at retro gas stations, whilst listening to a soundtrack inspired by the road itself (we suggest the Rolling Stones’ cover of ‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’!). 

Source: Creative Commons/Tony Hisgett



What’s the best road trip you’ve taken as an expat? Let us know - tweet @expatexplorer!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Five European Languages, 10 Indispensable Phrases



When moving abroad and facing the colossal task of trying to make new friends, language is probably the biggest barrier of them all. But it’s remarkable how little of your adoptive country’s local tongue you need to know to break down that initial wall. Most people around the world love to hear foreigners trying to speak their language, and as daunting as it may seem, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the best ways to start a conversation.

We’ve compiled a list of ten endearing everyday phrases that every expat should have up their sleeve. Whether you’re entirely new to the language, or an expert speaker looking to perfect your local flair, these sayings are so entirely natural to natives that you will be bound to impress!

French
Phase:                  “Parler Français comme une vache espagnole”
Translation:        (Literally: to speak French like a Spanish cow) To butcher a language.

Phrase:                                 “Les carottes sont cuites”
Translation:        (Literally: the carrots are cooked) Nothing can be done about it now.

Spanish
Phrase:                 “Pedir peras al olmo”
Translation:        (Literally: to ask the elm tree for pears) To demand the impossible.

Phrase:                 “Ser uña y carne”
Translation:        (Literally: to be nail and flesh) To be inseparable friends.

Italian
Phrase:                 “Avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca”
Translation:        (Literally: to have a cask full of wine and a drunk wife) To have your cake and eat it.

Phrase:                                 “Dalle stele alle stalle”
Translation:        (Literally: to go from the stars to the horse stables) To fall from grace.

Portuguese
Phrase:                “Cabeça d'alho xoxo”
Translation:        (Literally: head of rotten garlic) To be forgetful.

Phrase:                 “Descascar o abacaxi”
Translation:        (Literally: peel the pineapple) To solve the problem.

German
Phrase:                                 “Arbeit ist die beste Jacke”
Translation:        (Literally: work is the best jacket) You should do something useful.

Phrase:                                 “Es past wie ein Faust aufs Auge”
Translation:        (Literally: it fits like a fist in the eye) It’s a perfect fit!


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