Friday, 28 November 2014

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing… Melinda Gallo

Our latest expat guest blogger, Melinda Gallo, explores what it means to succeed as an expat
Image source: Flickr/ bernavazqueze

As an expat, I inadvertently meet a lot of expats. We always ask each other the same questions: how long have you been here, why are you here, how long are you here for, and what do you do. Many expats have the misconception that the length of time they live in a country is a sign of success. But, I disagree. Success for expats should be measured in how grounded they are in their home, how flexible and resilient they are, how willing they are to discover more, how much patience they have, and how accepting they are of their home.

All expats suggest the same qualities if you want to succeed: openness, courageousness, patience, and flexibility.

Increasing your curiosity
Being open to your new world, including its language, customs, culture, cuisine, environment, climate, and lifestyle is a must. It is your job as an expat to explore your new home and go deeper into understanding it. You cannot remain on the surface: you must dive in completely. While going deeper into discovering your new home, its language, its culture, and its people, you gain a greater perspective of your new home and the locals, but also a greater perspective of who you are, where you come from, and where you want to go.

Increasing your courageousness
Of course, you’ll need courage to take on the daily challenges of living in a new place. But also you’ll need courage to engage with strangers, to look awkward and feel out of place, to mix up your words, and to not know what will happen next.

Increasing your patience
It takes patience to succeed as an expat because you sometimes have to just let things happen. When you move to a new place, you quickly realize that everything happens in its own time, not in your time. Much to an expat’s dismay, most things take more time than you like, such as learning the local language, making friends, getting a job, and finding a home that suits you. Patience is not just a virtue; it’s a necessity.

Increasing your sincerity
When you move to a new place, it’s almost vital for you to take off your mask and be sincere with the people around you. If you don’t speak the language, it’s even more important because you can’t hide behind your words. Because the locals don’t know your history, they can only judge you based on how you present yourself, what you say, and what actions you take.

Increasing your faith
On your journey as an expat, always remember that everything works out for the best. It might not be what you initially want for yourself, but it is always perfect for you in the end. When you drop your expectations, you slip right into the arms of faith, which is exactly where you need to be to succeed in your life as an expat.
Remember that success is not some static point. You succeed as an expat by embracing the experience, opening yourself to discover and learn more, accepting your new home, and showing appreciation for what you like.

Just because you are an expat in a specific location, doesn’t mean you have to stay there. It might take some trial and error to find the perfect location for you.

About the Author

Melinda Gallo moved to Paris a few months after graduating college and has lived in Europe ever since. As an expat, she has lived in France, England, and Italy. For the past few years, she has been living in both Florence and Paris where she continually juggles two languages, cultures, and lifestyles. You can read more about her double expat life in her blog at You can also follow Melinda on Twitter at @melindagallo.

Monday, 17 November 2014

How to adjust to working life in Brazil

When we think of Brazil, the first things we think of are sun, sand and samba. Recently, we rounded up some of the top cultural attractions that the country has to offer, this week we’re going to explore what expat life in the workplace is like.

This year’s Expat Explorer report showed that the main driver for relocating to Brazil tends to be for work, which is understandable given the country’s rapidly growing economy. Yet when expats arrive, particularly those who hail from the corporate powerhouses of Europe, North America and the Far East, they’re often confronted with a work ethic that can be very different from what they’re used to! 

  Image source: Creative Commons / JĂșlio Boaro

The can-do attitude and the jeitinho brasileiro
The first concept that every expat in Brazil should know about is the jeitinho brasileiro (jzay-cheen-yu-brazi-lay-ru). This translates as the little Brazilian way of getting things done. It refers to the Brazilian can-do attitude, the way in which people here always manage to find a solution to their problems with a smile on their face. Pessimism in the Brazilian workplace won’t go down well. Expats in Brazil will notice the truly inspirational sense of optimism of the people here. 

Office attire
The next thing expats in Brazil should be aware of before day one in the office is that the country has a relaxed attitude to dress in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that you should turn up in your beachwear, but ties and top buttons are redundant anywhere but in the boardroom. This should be very welcome news given that most of Brazil basks in a tropical climate for pretty much all of the year!

The paulista expat (that’s a resident of Sao Paulo) will notice a slightly more formal, corporate culture. This enormous city is rapidly becoming one of the business capitals of the world, and has a level of formality to suit. 

A relaxed lunchtime
A Brazilian lunch hour is a very loosely designed “hour”. Brazilians love their food (with good reason), and are certainly not going to cut their lunch hour short and risk missing out on everything the local cuisine has to offer. Most office workers in the big cities tend to frequent what’s known as the kilo buffets, several of which can be found in most neighbourhoods. These pay-by-weight restaurants are the destination of choice for expats with an empty stomach and an open mind. Where else in the world can you pile your plate high with everything from sushi to steak to tropical fruits?

 Image source: Creative Commons / takoradee 

The spread of the co-working space
Many investors and entrepreneurs are starting to recognise Brazil as a real land of opportunity. Given the country’s increasing wealth and its centre-stage position due to events like the World Cup and The Olympics, opportunities for new businesses are rife. This has led to the spread of the co-working trend from Europe and North America – office spaces in which start-ups and freelancers can rent a desk and share communal spaces. These are great opportunities to meet other expats and get a bright business idea off the ground!

Speaking Portuguese in the office
Portuguese is the national language of Brazil, but many top businesses need a few English-speakers in order to be able to do business with much of the rest of the world. Any effort on the part of an expat to speak a little Portuguese will be truly celebrated, and, given Brazil’s growing prominence in the world, it would be wise to think about learning a few words!

Are you an expat in Brazil? Share your best tips for success with other expats using our Hints & Tips tool here

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A film for every expat

As an expat it’s all too easy to lose steam and forget why you moved in the first place; a sense of adventure, the drive to make new friends and see new cultures, as well as succeed in a foreign environment.

Sound like you? Try these films to get yourself ready to love expat life once again! 

If you’re looking for love… ‘Eat Pray Love’ (2010)

“I used to have this appetite for food, for my life, and it is just gone! I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something, anything”- Liz

Post-divorce, Liz decides to go on the journey of a life time to rediscover herself. Learning Italian in the Mediterranean, meditating in India and falling in love in Bali, this film’s beautiful scenery, encapsulation of cultures and inspirational storyline is guaranteed to make you want to, pack your bags and fly away all over again. Italy is the number one destination for expats finding love according to our 2014 Expat Explorer Survey – so be sure to look up Rome.
Image source: Creative Commons / Cbill
 If you’re retiring…. ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ (2011)

‘Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected’- Evelyn

When a group of British retirees turn up to the Marigold Hotel in India not all is as they expected, but it soon begins to charm them in its own magical way. This film proves it’s never too late to make new friends, and why not, our 2014 survey showed that 65% of expats over the age of 55 found it easy to make new friends, more than any other age group! If you’re looking for a friendly expat destination, try Taiwan where an astonishing 91% of expats say the local people are friendly.

Image source: Creative Commons / Huskyherz

If you’re looking for an adventure…. ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (2013)

‘To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life”- Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty was a man who lived a mundane existence, with the only adventures occurring inside his own head. Then the day comes for him to make his adventures real, as he goes on the journey of a lifetime. According to our 2014 survey, 31% of expats move for a new challenge and Walter is the perfect reminder for why you made the move in the first place. 

Image source: Creative Commons / Katja

If you’re looking for a career challenge… ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ (2011)

‘But you persist in the wind and the rain and the cold with such poor odds of success. Why? Because you're a man of faith’- Sheikh Muhammed

38% of expats in our 2014 Expat Explorer survey told us that they moved to improve their job prospects, but relocating your entire career is no mean feat! Two thirds of expats globally say they feel welcome in their new workplace and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is the perfect motivation for getting up on Monday morning. After all, no matter how hard your job is, it’s unlikely to be as tricky as fishing in a desert…

Which films inspire you to travel? Tweet us @expatexplorer and join in the conversation.



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