Expat A-Z Part II – From New to Zoo

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Welcome to Expat Life – It can feel like a bit of a zoo.

Continuing from part I of the A-Z of expat life, which covered ‘Armpit of the Earth’ to ‘Moving’ here is part II, from ‘New’ to ‘Zoo’.

N is for New.  New experiences, homes, languages, countries and cultures.  Embrace the newness.  N is also for Next Life, as in those wistful words frequently uttered by my husband and many other expat working spouses; ‘In my next life I’m coming back as an expat wife.’  A charmed life it can be, but being a ‘Lady who Lunches’ is not always quite as easy and glamorous as you may think.

O is for One in a million expat partnersThese are the patient, resilient, uncomplaining (okay, that’s a lie, they complain sometimes, sometimes they complain a lot) men and women who follow their other halves half way across the globe for a different or better life.

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Cheers to all the One in a Million Expat Partners

P is for Packers.  They descend on your home like a swarm of ants armed with bubble wrap, packing boxes and tape.  You thought you were ready, you thought you had it all under control until the chaos of the the packers is unleashed.  They scatter to the far corners of your home and garden.  You have to keep an eye on them.  If you didn’t lock and barricade the door to the room with your suitcases that are not to be packed, they’ll be the first thing out the door and wedged at the back of your container.  Kept a bit of food in reserve for a final supper?  Careful, it could easily end up packed and festering in a container for weeks.  Left a small i-pod, cash or sunglasses lying around?  These could end up being packed in someones’ pocket and never seen again…..and the ripping sound of packing tape being stickily unwound will haunt you forever more.   P is also for Personal Grooming, another of the lesser known challenges of expat life.  My particular bugbear under the Personal Grooming category is getting a haircut.  It can be a bit of a hair raising or should that be hair razing experience. Continue reading

An A-Z of Expat Life – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – Part I

Everything you need to know about expat life in one easy A to Z list.

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A is for the Armpit of the Earth: This would be an affectionate name for a really tough posting that will only be undertaken by the most badass of expats.  It’s a term to describe the furthest flung, most chaotic, challenging and maddening places on the face of the planet.  A is also for Airplanes and Airports, we often become overly familiar with these.  Any glamour we previously associated with international travel will quickly lose its’ shine, especially if frequently travelling solo with young children. Continue reading

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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Today I received a handwritten card from a friend who is far away.  She’s from New Zealand, I’m from the UK.  I currently live in South Africa and she recently moved from here to Asia.

The card didn’t arrive in my post box.  We don’t have a post box.  It came in true expat style via a mutual friends’ suitcase with a smattering of goodies to boot.

The wording on the front of the card is a Danish proverb which is completely apt for expat life, “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”  Although, I’d probably alter it to “The road to a friend’s house is never long, even if they are thousands of miles away and living in a completely different time zone.”

It made my day.   Continue reading

Backyard Safari

South African wildlife is off the scale, but you don’t even have to go on safari to experience it, there is plenty (sometimes a little too much) right here in our neighbourhood backyard.

I’ve variously written about and/or where possible photographed the spiders, snakes, birds and the scorpion that we’ve encountered around the estate and occasionally in our home.  However, I’d never managed to get a really good look at our resident monitor lizard, until now…
Check out this bad boy heading off to chomp on his fish.  He (or could it a be a she?) lives just down at the end of our road in a small nature reserve where I walk our dog.  Easily two metres or more from top to tail, he could easily be mistaken for some kind of small crocodile.

 

What the most ‘exciting’ wildlife encounter you’ve had in your neighbourhood?

How one Expat is Walking the Walk rather than Talking the Talk

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Although I very recently lampooned a fictional stereotypical expat called Charity Charity who is hopelessly devoted to helping all the causes, in reality I have a great deal of respect for the expats who go out and make a genuine difference to their host country.

Expat Leslie Randolph is someone who has done just that.  She is making an admirable contribution to South Africa through her involvement with Lawyers against Abuse.  Leslie is a fabulous individual, warm and kind and great fun to be around.  Here she shares her story and her passion for the cause she has been fighting for:

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The South African Hadeda Alarm Clock

The culture here in South Africa is ‘early to bed, early to rise’.  Is it because the sun rises so early?  No, it’s because of the delightful hadeda bird that serves as a daily alarm clock.

Have you ever heard the ear shattering screech of the hadeda as it pierces the the gentle quiet of dawn? This is but a timid sample, yet if you turn your volume up as high as it will go, you too can appreciate this special sound.

Good morning and you’re welcome.

 

You can learn more about just a small selection of birds we’ve encountered in Johannesburg, including the hadeda, the weaver bird and the go-away bird by clicking here.

Charity Charity, Entrepreneurial Emma and Botox Betty – Expat Stereotypes you might want to Avoid

Avoid these expats

Meet Emma, Charity and Betty.  They look so harmless, don’t they?

Expat stereotypes.  We all know them.  We all love them.  We all love to hate them.  I previously wrote about three stereotypical expats who are unlikely to survive expat life.  And before you get all excited up on that high horse of yours, just take a little chill pill and know that this is entirely tongue in cheek.

After all, there is bound to be a little bit of the ‘doomed expat spouses‘, Hilda, Pauline and Nellie, in all of us. Equally, many of us have had our Charity, Emma and Betty moments.  We all need to take ourselves with a pinch of the proverbial.  So sprinkle that salt and read on about three expats you are almost certain to meet on a posting and might want to avoid.

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Planning a trip to Victoria Falls?  Here’s what you need to Know

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Can you see the Smoke that Thunders?  That’s Vic Falls spray, not a low slung cloud.

Victoria Falls is a gigantic earth rending waterfall, It’s neither the highest, nor the widest in the world, but it’s one of the most impressive (we were extremely impressed, EXTREMELY impressed).  Vic Falls also makes CNN’s list of 7 Natural Wonders of the world.  If you have the opportunity, you should absolutely go.

In my previous post I detailed just a few of the highlights that you can experience during a visit to Vic Falls.  Following on from that, for anybody considering a trip there, here are a few of the nuts and bolts details that might be useful, such as which side of the Falls to visit, what to buy and how to get around.

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