Friday, 29 August 2014

What do expats miss the most?


The one thing all expats have in common is that they have left an old “home” behind to find a new one. But when it comes to listing what expats miss the most there are as many answers as there are expats; is it the northern lights from the coast of Scotland or the street food of Bangkok?  We’ve turned to our fantastic expat community to find out what expats really reminisce about when they think of home.

All expats miss their friends and family from time to time, but sometimes the most important companions are of the four legged variety.  With quarantine rules keeping pets locked away for months, deciding whether to bring your pets with you can be a major worry. Not to mention the health risks of taking animals on long haul flights and the reams of paperwork at either side.

Pixabay / RalfBeck

If you don’t think you could take the trip without your pooch, check out our guide to “pets and passports”.

“You will miss your home country food a lot so bring snacks with you”
– an expat from India living in the UAE

Our 2013 Expat Explorer survey asked thousands of expat for their tips and there was one particularly common theme – food.  As another expat living in Ireland said “Make sure you have a steady supply of food or other items you might miss from home”. Hundreds of miles away from family, expats are just a little susceptible to comfort eating, but how to get hold of some home-made grub? Mum’s pad thai is difficult replace for Thai expats living in Brazil and there are few places outside of Germany you will find the delights of sauerkraut (that’s fermented cabbage to the rest of us).

Expat Explorer guest blogger Dana Newman

That’s why you will always find expats returning from visits back home with backpacks full of sweets, suitcases of homemade meals and sometimes even boxes of peanut butter…

Queuing. Perhaps the most unusual reminiscence we’ve come across @expatexplorer, but it also reflects one of the most important – culture. Social media and the internet make staying in touch with your religious roots, finding people who speak your language and simply keeping up with your old sports team easier than ever. But what about the little things, you don’t appreciate until you make the move? Perhaps it’s the constant murmur of Bollywood tunes in New Delhi, the occasional siesta in Madrid or maybe even the great tradition of queuing in Britain.

Is there anything quirky you miss about home? Tell us @expatexplorer, but before you go, keep these inspirational words in mind from our 2013 expat explorer survey:

“Enjoy it while you're out here. There may be things or people you miss from home or even have to give up to live the 'expat' lifestyle. It's a choice you have to make. But you only live once. Make it a good one!”

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Career prospects for the trailing spouse

How did you become an expat? Perhaps your husband or wife was offered a big promotion, or a career move came up that your partner just couldn’t resist. Faced by the prospect of taking a step into the unknown or dealing with a long distance relationship, you chose to give it a go too… If that sounds familiar, no doubt you’ll be already firmly strapped into the expat rollercoaster! 

Moving was a new (and very busy) adventure - from visas, packing and goodbyes to finding a property, settling in, maybe even placing the kids in school – but what are you doing now? Below are a few suggestions for how you can kick-start a career in your new home, make the most of the opportunities there. 

Creative commons/Flazingo

Use your language skills: Living somewhere with a different native language? Why not look into teaching your mother tongue as a foreign language? There are plenty of courses to get you started and private arrangements for language lessons can also lead to friendships too! Alternatively, if your destination country is popular with those back home as a holidaying spot, why not check out any opportunities in the tourism industry? Even if you’ve never done anything like this before, your language skills could well be in demand and seasonal working could offer flexibility if you’re also juggling a young family.

Work remotely: Who says moving needs to entail giving up your old job? Many careers allow you to work remotely, so explore the possibilities before you go. You might have a few late night or early morning conference calls, or have to take the occasional jet setting business trip, but, if you’ve moved abroad for a partner, your career doesn’t have to suffer.

Make a difference: Maybe your move has brought you to an emerging market, where growing prosperity hasn’t eradicated all problems for the local population. Maybe you can help – volunteer, support an NGO on the ground and see a different side to your new home! Volunteering can be a wonderful way to get back into working after a career break, wherever you’re living, so ask around and use your skills to support a cause.

Launch a digital career: Guess what? It’s not just friends and family who are interested in your expat life! Why not blog about your experiences? It could be just for fun or it could become a fulltime job. And the best thing is, you just have to be yourself. Why not check out the stories of our expat guest bloggers?

How has your career fared since moving abroad for a partner? Let us know – by commenting below or tweeting @expatexplorer!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing… Rutger Ahlerup

Our latest guest blogger, Rutger Ahlerup, reflects on his home city of Stockholm and fills us in on the things to do if you want to go from being a visitor to a local.

Image Source: Creative Common/Michael Caven
Sweden is an exciting destination for any tourist, with a capital that is often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are popular tourist attractions a plenty, and these are all worth a visit, but there is also a lot more to do. As a born and bred man of Stockholm, I take a bit of a deeper look into what local life would look like for an expat living there.  
A big part of being an expat is about having opportunity to go beyond the tourist traps and really get to know a new place. Having the time to experience cities during low season and finding the local hideouts, not written about online or in the tourist guides, is key to the expat experience. Here are some tips to get you started finding the hidden gems of Stockholm.

      Sodermalm (S√∂dermalm) is currently the “hippest” part of Stockholm where both parks and night clubs can be found. Don’t be afraid to turn down a small alley, because it is by doing this that you find places like Montelius Road. A view over almost half of Stockholm appears as you descend this path, and it is a popular place for locals to come and watch the sunset.  

Image Source: Creative Commons/Kurt Qvist    
Djurgarden (Djurgården) is an enormous park in the central of Stockholm, and is not only ideal for walks on a sunny Sunday, but also has amusements parks and an open air museum. Large numbers of tourists go here each year to visit the attractions, but a few minutes away, and you find green open fields that are ideal for having a picnic, or playing a game of kubb.

Image Source: Creative Common/Ulf Bodin
Sweden has always been a country of many flavours. After WW2, people from all over the world moved to the country, and as a result the food culture has developed to become truly diverse and international. In recent years the culinary scene has flourished and one-off restaurants have popped up all over the country. Here are three places where the locals go to eat.

1.       BarBro – Located on Sodermalm under a bridge, this restaurant might be hard to find without directions, but trust me, it is worth it. Here, you can experience Asian food done in a whole new way and even head one floor down to enjoy your meal in the restaurant’s own movie salon!

2.       Sturehof – In the middle of busy, central Stockholm, right at the door step of the fashion boutiques, lies Sturehof. Opened in 1897, Sturehof has built its reputation on its brilliant sea-food menu, but also offers a grade A steak. This restaurant is a bit on the pricey side, but is really special – so try to head there at least once if you can.

3.       Calexicos - Also found on Sodermalm, this is Mexican food at its best. The affordable menu means you can indulge in a few more margaritas and tequilas, and if you decide to extend the night, you needn’t go far as there is a nightclub right next door. 

Must dos
Even though some of these are the most famous tourist attractions, you do really have to tick these off to be able to call yourself a local. 

Explore the Royal Palace
Visit the Natural History Museum and the Nobel  Museum
Take a boat tour
Visit the old town
Channel your inner ‘dancing queen’ at the ABBA Museum

Are you an expat in Stockholm? Tweet us what you discovered at @expatexplorer
About the author
Rutger Ahlerup is currently living in London but is originally from Stockholm, Sweden. He has previously lived in Salt Lake City and has traveled all over the world. In his free time he enjoys skiing and other outdoors activities, and he always tries to visit one sporting event at each place he travels.

The content of this post is the opinion of the guest blogger and not of HSBC. We cannot check and verify any information contained in the blog post, nor accept any responsibility for it



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