Visiting or Moving to South Africa? Here’s how you can get Culture Smart!

South Africa_New

Culture Smart! has updated their guide to South Africa and as part of their first ever blog tour, promoting updated and brand new titles, I was invited to take a sneak preview.

What is Culture Smart!?

The concept of the Culture Smart! book series is similar to traditional travel guides in that they cover the basics of geography, history, language, climate and so forth. However, rather than accommodation, restaurant and sightseeing listings, Culture Smart! focusses on culture, customs and traditions.  This is for the traveller who wants to travel easily without offending local sensibilities.

What can I expect from Culture Smart! South Africa?

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Farewell 2017, Hello 2018

On Blouberg Strand
Farewell 2017, Hello 2018

The holiday is over and it’s back to reality.  New posts are already in the works.  In the meantime, just incase you missed them the first time around or just really really want to read them again, here’s a quick round-up of Expatorama’s top posts from 2017.

  1. Ponte Tower – A Tale of Glamour, Garbage and Gritty Regeneration.  I read about Ponte Tower before moving to South Africa and was intrigued – an unusual hollow cylindrical building with a checkered history.  I didn’t realise you could visit the tower until early last year.  The tour is fascinating and I highly recommend it if you’re in town (i.e. Johannesburg).

  2. Hair Raising and Hair Razing Experiences Abroad.  This post falls under  ‘lesser known challenges of expat life’ that don’t normally get covered on expat blogs.  Getting a haircut may be a lesser known challenge and yet the struggle is real.

  3. Expat Life Through Rose Tinted Glasses.  This was a fun post to write, it involved wine and LEGO.  When it comes to expat life, not everything is always as rosy as it seems.

The most read post ever is Why Expat Partners are Like Dung Beetles – a post basically detailing how completely awesome both expat partners and dung beetles are.

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-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

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?

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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Are you a badass expat? Take this quick quiz to find out.

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What’s your badass expat score?

Do you think you’re a hardcore badass full-fat expat?  Let’s find out.

A few days ago I shared a link to a recent Business Insider article entitled The 19 countries with the worst quality of life in the world for expats.’  I soon had friends and readers telling me how many years they’d spent in which country and realised we could turn these rankings into a quick and easy way to work out your ‘Badass Expat’ score.

I’ve allocated points to each location, the tougher the location the more points you get.  You then multiply the points for each location by the number of years you lived there, tally them up and bingo, you have your Badass Expat score.

My current score is 111.

What’s yours?

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Hair Raising and Hair Razing Experiences Abroad

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You know it’s a disaster when you’d rather wear a paper bag over your head.

Getting a hair cut should be a fairly simple procedure and yet I have found it to be one of the lesser known, but very real challenges of expat life.  Plenty of expat blogs cover all the obvious, big ticket hurdles to being a successful and happy expat: emotional resilliance, repatriation, culture shock, depression, leaving well etc.  But there are plenty of lesser known hurdles we face as we ricochet around the globe and getting a decent haircut is firmly on that list.

Whether I’ve asked  for ‘a trim’ or ‘the same but shorter’ or shown a picture from a magazine or a photograph of my own hair I seem to have had more than my fair share of awful expat haircuts than I care to mention.  Here are a few of my lowlights…. Continue reading

Scorpion on the Line

 

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Did you ever hear the story about Thomas the Tank Engine and the scorpion?  It’s got a sting in the tail.

This is a passenger announcement.  Regular blog services are running late.  Normal service has been severely disrupted by The Christmas Holidays…and a scorpion on the line.

Regular service will resume shortly.

In the meantime, just incase you missed them the first time around, the most popular 5 posts on Expatorama in 2016 were:

  1.  Why Expats are Like Dung Beetles
  2.  The Escape Room Phenomenon hits South Africa
  3.  10 Things I’ve learned from running and Expat Facebook Group
  4.  Ladies who Lunch
  5.  Which School? An Expat Parenting Dilemma

 

The scorpion has now thankfully left the building and I’m busy working on some brand new posts for 2017.

Why Expat Partners are Like Dung Beetles

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There’s always a bit of a brouhaha when it comes to labelling or describing expat partners. A few of the titles used include Expat Spouse, Expat Wife, Trailing Spouse, Trailblazing Spouse, Lady of Leisure, Lady that Lunches, Guy that Golfs, Excess Baggage or as my husband endearingly calls me Expensive Habit. None of the terms is perfect and some are deeply loathed by the expat community.

So, I’ve come up with yet another alternative for you.  It’s an analogy that first occurred to me when I wrote about the industrious dung beetle after we saw hundreds of them on safari.  They are completely fascinating little creatures and the comparison between expat partners and dung beetles has been scratching about in the back of my mind ever since.  Yes, I am comparing the Trailing Spouse to the Dung Beetle.

Confused?  Here are 6 ways that expat partners are like dung beetles:

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Why Expats Drink Gin

Gin and tonic is an iconic and yet slightly negative symbol of expat life.  The drink contributes to the image of the idle, drunk, spoilt expat living a life of luxury in far flung tropical locations. But do you know the real reason expats first started drinking gin and tonic?  You might be surprised.

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Let’s wind back a few centuries……

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