Tuesday, 28 April 2015

New country. New job. New you?

It is next to impossible to describe the average expat. They can be laid back or highly driven, family-orientated or footloose singletons, old or young – the list goes on. That’s because becoming an expat says more about who you want to be than it does about who you already are.

Relocating your life, even for a short period, is a bold statement and one of the most popular reasons people become an expat is to challenge themselves. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or a parent, a serial expat or a first timer – according to our 2014 survey around a third of expats globally say they moved not in spite of the challenge but because of it.

Moving abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reinvent yourself but once the plane touches down, losing the timid shackles of the old you is harder than it sounds. Take heed then from those who have gone before you:

“Become integrated into the country where you now live, make friends, serve the community. Learn and use English and get to know the country's history, geography, literature and customs” - An Austrian living in the UK

Herry Lawford / Creative Commons

Learning the local language is on the wish list of just about every new expat, with 53% of the expats in our 2014 survey saying they were trying to pick it up, but the locals in your new home will love nothing more than to hear you recite the details of their history and culture. Four in five (83%) expats say they enjoy getting to grips with the local culture so get stuck in and become the history buff you always knew you could be. 

“Be sure and confident and don't let the setbacks keep you down”- A New Zealander living in Australia

Expats need confidence in spades, but luckily the experience of living and working abroad has a habit of giving even the shyest individual a self-assured confidence. Whether it’s an early experience of haggling over your rent using only a phrase book and the art of expressive body language or the experience of creating a friendship network from scratch whilst falling foul of the local faux pas, you’d be surprised just how confident you can be. 

“When you work hard everyone will appreciate you” – An Indonesian living in Singapore

Our 2014 survey found that the number one reason expats give for moving abroad is to pursue their career but even in the office you can reinvent yourself. Swedish businesses embrace ‘lagom’ the art of doing things just right – not too much and not too little. With shorter chains of command and a devotion to taking regular ‘fika’s (breaks) the Swedish bound expat can learn the art of subtlety and teamwork. Expats moving to Japan, will be faced with a very different challenge, however. Whilst expats are often not expected to work quite as long as the locals, there is no doubt that expats in Japan quickly learn commitment.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

What kind of expat are you?

The word ‘expat’ conjures up many images for different people; from career focused individuals, adventurers, to families looking for a new life abroad.  As the results of the 2014 Expat Explorer survey revealed, the incentives to move abroad vary for every expat as do their experiences and behaviours once in a new country.  Here’s a lowdown on the types of expats you can expect to meet on your journey – and a few ideas for getting the most out of things along the way!

The nearly-native

You try to distance yourself from the word ‘expat’ as much as you can, with the term ‘local’ deemed to be most appropriate for you by most.  You know the local lingo, socialise with the local community, know where to buy the best food, and where to find bars hidden away from the tourist trail. 

Tips for the nearly-natives: Leave your map at home and get lost; take a wonder whilst listening to music and see where you end up after half an hour.  Who knows what hidden treasures you might discover!

The professional expat

You know your reason for becoming an expat – to further your career prospects.  Expat life for you is dominated by the workplace; exploration and adventure come second.  You tend to socialise with work colleagues more than locals, and your next move will be planned around where your job will take you.

Tips for professional expats: Get your work colleagues together and organise a Friday lunch.  Try a new restaurant and use it as an opportunity to take a break from the office.  

The expat parents

Your move abroad could have been related to a career change, but it ultimately came down to creating a new life for your family, and the desire to experience a new adventure together.  A big part of your decision to move, and the choice of your new home, was the quality of education systems and you’re well versed in the best places to raise children.    

Tips for expat parents: Take your family to a restaurant which serves a type of cuisine your children or spouse may not have tried before – it could mean the discovery of a new found love of food!

The short-stay expat

You don’t see your expat experience as a permanent one, but more of a short term adventure.  You have no shame in sticking to the beaten track – visiting tourist attractions, and taking weekend road trips around the country.  Since you know you won’t be there for long, you’ve picked up a little of the language, and know enough to get by, but fluency isn’t the be all and end all.

Tips for the short-stay expats: Find a group of like-minded expats and take a weekend trip to a new part of the city or country – eat well, drink well, and see what the area has to offer. 

The student expat

You’re lucky enough to have had the opportunity to study abroad, and you’re on a mission to do as much as humanly possible in a short space of time.  The student body of your chosen university provides a hub for social activities, which includes getting to know the local nightlife!

Tips for student expats: Get your friends together at the weekend and do a new activity together.  This could be anything from hiking to cycling around the city – something that doesn’t involve a nightclub!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Five things to do with our new Expat Explorer interactive Hub

At Expat Explorer we've been swapping tips, reviewing far flung expat destinations and sharing our perspective, as well as yours, for more than seven years and we feel it’s time for us to take the next step in our evolution.

Our beautiful new hub, click to through to explore

Today we launch our brand new Expat Explorer hub. The hub is your one stop shop for all our interactive expat tools, from old favourites like our Expat Explorer survey interactive map, to brand new additions like our 34 dedicated Expat Country Guides, there is plenty to get your teeth into. But where to get started?

1.       Create your relocation checklist

Would you know what you’d need to bring if that golden job opportunity in Hong Kong came through tomorrow? In our new country guides you can create your own customised interactive checklist and feel better prepared for that dream move.

2.       Watch our crowdsourced video using hints, tips and insights taken from the expat community

Expats have shared almost 1,700 hints & tips through our website over the years and countless more have been sent to @expatexplorer. We’ve collected some of the best expat tips and collaborated with animator, Tim Keeling, to work his magic with these different expat perspectives to create a short film celebrating expat life.

3.       Read up on the cultural quirks of your next expat destination

Unsure about dress conventions in the Middle East or what saving ‘face’ means in China? Now there is no excuse for being unprepared with our country guides. Whilst you’re at it you can read up on the education, accommodation and healthcare in your dream expat destination too.

4.       Find the best country in the world for you

Our interactive map shows the best countries for expats based on career prospects, the culture and raising children, but no two expats are the same! On our interactive tool you can search for destinations that have a good work life balance, great local food and encourage your children to be more outgoing. Expats can select from the options and criteria that are most important to them to discover the best expat locations.

5.       Submit a top 5 list to our hints and tips website

Think you can write a great top 5 list about life abroad? Create your own here, and share your thoughts about life as an expat. Perhaps you know the best markets in the world, the must-see places in Europe or the 5 best tips for making friends, your only challenge is finding something original to say.

If you’ve made the move abroad, we want to hear from you! The 2015 Expat Explorer survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

An Expat Guide to Uncovering London

Moving abroad can be a daunting prospect, especially when that move is to one of the most populated and busiest cities in the world: London.  Expats arriving in London for the first time may feel equally overwhelmed as excited.  When balancing a new job with adjusting to a new city and home, there’s a lot to think about – so here’s our pick of the best ways you can uncover your new city, one day at a time. 

Through history
To discover the heart of London, it is important to look back and understand its history. London has such rich history going back more than 2,000 years.  It is the home of notable cultural attractions, incredible parks, landmarks, great architecture, and many old pubs, which each tell their own story. You can’t underestimate the benefit that’s to be had in simply going for a wander around the different areas of the city. Not only will you discover the well-known historical monuments like Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge (to name a few!), but it’s a great way to absorb the varying architecture, atmospheres and crowds that you’ll find in different, lesser known parts of the city. 

Through culture
For the culture vultures out there, London is a great place to be. With an array of museums, you’ll always have a place to get away from the rain which so often characterises London. Try the Kensington area to find some of the larger best-known museums, which contain exhibits on everything from British monarchy, through to scientific advances and natural history. There are plenty of other smaller, less mainstream museums too which nestle in different parts of the city and are well-worth exploring too.

Through markets
Dotted all over the city and offering everything from antique typewriters to fresh fruit and flowers, following the trails of London’s many outdoor markets are a great way to discover the depths of the city.  If you have an interest in dance, fashion, photography or tradition, it’s definitely worth a visit to Covent Garden. This bustling stretch is one of London’s oldest and most popular markets, which offers everything from entertainment to food and drink to fashion.  Or if you feel like mixing with London’s hipsters, head to Brick Lane market for some overpriced vintage gear and delicious street food, particularly curries. Get lost and go people watching: soak up the atmosphere, admire the fashion sense of locals or pick up decorations or fresh flowers for your new home. 

Through food
For many, London’s rich food diversity makes up a large part of the city’s appeal –a likely result of the wide diversity and different ethnic groups which make up London’s population, and it’s bound to open up the eyes of even the most well-travelled expat.. London has countless restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world, with specific parts of the city often catering to a particular type of cuisine. Different ethnicities and cultures can be found in different geographic areas of London; for example if you are looking for good Asian cuisine it best to head to East London. To get the best afro Caribbean food and culture then South East, South West and North London are the best places to visit.

London’s rich and multicultural setting truly has something for everyone – and although Londoners have a bad rep for being miserable, most newcomers do find the city welcoming and friendly.
Remember – to explore is to understand. So get out there!

If you've made the move abroad, we want to hear from you, the 2015 Expat Explorer Survey is now open! Take 15 minutes to help fellow expats by letting us know your views on life abroad and spread the word by using #EESurvey15 on Twitter.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The top adventures every expat should have as part of exploring their new home

To fully experience your new home, you need to immerse yourself by diving into the experience and becoming inspired by your new culture. Moving abroad is one of the biggest adventures of a lifetime, but don’t feel shy, you may be surprised by what you find just on your new doorstep.

Here is our guide to hitting the ground running and making the most out of the new experiences each day will bring. Make your stay an adventurous one!

Get lost: Leave the house and go for a walk, take different turnings and see where you end up.  You could get on a bus or train and ride it to the end. You never know what you might stumble upon along the way!

Stroll around the local markets: A local market is a fascinating place; it will allow you to find out all about the unique local produce from food to fabrics, and clothes to ornaments. It can become a fascinating exploration into how local people go about their day to day shopping and trading and a great way to get to know some of the local characters!

Go to a festival: Local festivals are another great way to experience the uniqueness of your new environment. Have a go at learning the local dialect; it will help you get to know the locals who will enjoy sharing their culture with you. If you need a helping hand, here is our guide to the festivals from around the world that you won’t want to miss!

Try out the local cuisine: Go to a restaurant where the menu is only in the local language; again you will definitely try something new! Be adventurous and try and find something from the menu that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.

Get a registered local taxi: One of the best ways to get to know a new place is to take a trip in a cab. Local taxi drivers won’t be shy with their view on their hometown and often have a wonderful insight of knowledge and information about your new local town and its people.

Recreational Activities: Get out of the city and into the countryside and see what life is like away from the hustle and bustle. – Or if you’re staying somewhere quieter, head for the nearest metropolitan hub. If you’re into sports, why not try out the recreational clubs? As well as keeping fit, getting involved in team sports is another good way to make new friends.

Whatever you choose to do; the most important thing is to have fun and be open minded. Remember this is a new experience in your new home, so enjoy it!



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