Friday, 29 January 2010

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing... Tim Mullen

Australian Tim Mullen gives us his insight on the expat life...


Living on both sides of the world

"Making my guest post to the Expat Explorer blog this week comes at a time when I am feeling particularly patriotic. This week I along with countless other of Aussies in the UK celebrated Australia Day, which for many of us culminated on Tuesday night at one of the numerous Walkabouts scattered around London (just to make it clear – visiting one of these fine establishments is not something I do regularly but more reserved for special occasions). As I lined up in the freezing cold surrounded by fellow expats dressed in Australian flags, cork hats and a variety of other memorabilia, what struck me most was the sheer number of us based in this city, so far away from home.

"I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked by my English friends why I chose to live here; to leave such a great country that offers such an amazing lifestyle to come and base myself over in the UK where the weather can be incredibly dreary and where I am left missing my friends and my family back home. It’s a funny thing but for me, like a large number of Australians, there seems to be a burning desire within us to expand our horizons and experience the world beyond our beloved sand and sea. Having said that, there is a trade off with expat life and that is how it can be a difficult life to lead, especially when you're so far away from home.

"I don't in any way regret making the decision to become an expat and I am loving living and working abroad – being an expat is an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience and I have grown hugely as a person in my time over here and I wouldn’t take anything back. There are countless opportunities still in front of me but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t torn between this life and the life at home.

"I think in summary, expat life has not only expanded my horizons but it has also reinforced to me that no matter where you come from, you will always have your home country in your blood and you should be proud of that. Equally as important is to remember that you need to balance this patriotism and also integrate properly into your resident country to make sure that you get the full experience.

"The most important thing for expats to remember is that although it can be tough, this dual life is sustainable as long as you work at it. Yes it takes more effort to stay in touch with friends and family back home, but as long as you have the right attitude you can continue to reap the benefits of leading an international life and still maintain what makes you who are by remembering, and celebrating, your heritage."

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Connecting expat stories

We mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and with the World Cup and other football/soccer tournaments popular events the world over, it seems a topic on which many expats can relate to one another, as well as their local friends and communities. We think it’s great that expats are connecting in this way.

Take for instance another blog we came across – The African Expat – which looks at the prospects for the World Cup in South Africa and also includes some handy tips for any of you actually looking at making the pilgrimage over there to watch the beautiful game.

For those not going, it’s going to be an interesting mix of early starts, midday games or middle-of-the-night viewing sessions as expats across the world tune in to support their local team.

We’re asking you on Twitter to tell us who you’re supporting in South Africa 2010 so send us messages and re-tweet ours!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Your National Days

Today Australians around the world will have celebrated Australia Day and those from India will have celebrated Republic Day. Other upcoming national days include Pakistan Day and Waitangi Day (New Zealand), with other countries celebrating their National Days throughout the year – we’re sure that many expats have the respective dates earmarked on their calendars. As much as being an expat is about integrating into another culture and society, for many it is about bringing a part of your own identity and individuality into other circles in another part of the world.

How many of you have fond memories of celebrating your respective national day in another country? Send us your thoughts and photos so we can post on the blog to share with other expats around the world. We would love to hear of your own expat experiences!

Later this week Aussie expat living in London, Tim Mullen, will be posting here about his experiences of Australia Day in different hemispheres.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Sport - the international language?

Moving on from following sports, how many of our readers regularly play sports? There are many international sports but different ones are obviously more popular in some countries and regions than others. New Zealand loves its rugby, Japan has the sumo and most of Europe is football-crazy . Expat Experience looked into integration of expats in the local culture and an important part of this for many expats is getting involved in local sports – not only is it healthy and fun but it is also an ideal way of socialising with like-minded people and integrating into another community.

It would be interesting to see how many of you do lead an active expat life in terms of playing sports and especially if it isn’t a sport you’d traditionally play back in your home country. We would imagine there to be quite a lot of diversity in terms of popular sports but wouldn’t it be interesting if there was one sport that stood above others the world over as being more popular amongst expats?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Expats and sports

An expat writer for ESPN, an American living in Abu Dhabi, recently wrote about how the time difference makes it difficult for him to follow the NFL season back in his home country. For anybody with a favourite sports team, moving abroad can make it difficult to watch the games and perhaps as a result you don’t follow your team’s fortunes as you would back at home. The more committed of you may change your schedule to watch games on TV, or track down the local sports bar where you can meet up with like-minded devotees.

On the other hand, there may be an alternative local team that you start to follow, or even a different sport altogether.

Does this affect your expat life?

With the Football World Cup being played in South Africa in June 2010, how many time zones are you going to have to allow for in following your team’s games? Fortunately for the team here, the time difference in the UK is only a couple of hours so the expats here can keep track relatively easily. Personally I’m hoping England can make up for missing out on the European Cup!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Expat foody heaven

British paper The Telegraph has a really cool feature in a section of its online site, the Expat Picture Gallery.

Some of you may have noticed that our Expat Explorer survey included questions on food in the various popular expat destinations. The Telegraph have used the findings, along with some seriously delicious looking images, to present to you the top 14 world cuisines from an expat point of view. Take a look and maybe they can give you some inspiration for a little cooking of your own. For those of you who don’t already know, try to guess which cuisine came in at number one! We’d also like to hear if you have any other suggestions on top dishes that we may have missed…

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

International Living Index finds quality of life in UK to be lacking

International lifestyle magazine International Living has published its Quality of Life Index for 2010 and it makes for interesting reading for expats or those considering the expat life. Compared to last year's survey, the UK has dropped significantly down the list, in a reflection of the HSBC Bank International Expat Experience report which found the UK to score poorly due to the relatively poor quality of life compared to many other popular expat destinations. This is coupled with the relative expense of living there. Australia is found near the top, as in the Expat Experience report.

France is in at number 1 in the International Living index, and 2 other European countries make the top 5. While France was the highest scoring European country in Expat Existence, expats we asked actually ranked Canada, Thailand and Singapore and Bahrain above any European country for quality of life.

Read about the International Living Index here and here. Our report can also be read here . What are your views on the two surveys? Let us know by posting here or tweeting us @expatexplorer!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

How you can get involved this year

We may only be a week into 2010, but here at HSBC Bank International we’re already thinking about the launch of the third annual Expat Explorer survey...

We’ve really appreciated all the feedback you’ve given us on the survey so far, and we’re hoping to make sure that this year’s survey is bigger and better than ever. The best chance of seeing your country represented in the next report, or of influencing the findings, is to contribute yourself – that way, we will have the information to make deeper, more relevant and more interesting comparisons between countries.

Any more comments on the survey are always welcome (and encouraged!) and we will read them all, so leave them on this blog or tweet us @expatexplorer, and make sure that you follow us on Twitter to be alerted as to when we are looking for participants this year!

Thanks again for your interest and your help – here’s to a great 2010!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Happy 2010

We found a brilliant site with photos of NYE celebrations around the world and recommend you take a look if you want to see how things are done differently in other cultures and continents.

Any expats out there with interesting or exciting stories or photos of how they saw the new decade in? Tweet us @expatexplorer

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