Thursday, 30 June 2011

A World of Sport

With the Wimbledon final fast approaching (looks like it might actually be sunny!) this blog post is dedicated to all things sporty. We take a look at who’s playing what across the globe...





China, Table Tennis

In China there is thought to be 300 million amateur players of table tennis, or ping pong as it is widely known. Chinese players dominate the World Championship and World Cup league tables. The sport has even played an important role in China's international relations; in April 1972, the US table tennis team were invited to visit China, an event later called "Ping Pong Diplomacy".


(In the women's section Chinese players have won all but two of the World Championships since 1971)

New Zealand, Rugby Union

Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and many New Zealanders would say it is an integral part of the country's culture. The national team, The All Blacks, are considered one of the best and most fearful opponents in the sport. This reputation is most likely something to do with their pre-match tradition, the Haka, a Maori dance that was performed by warriors before they went to battle...


(The Rugby World Cup tournament is the world's third largest sporting event and New Zealand will host the event in September 2011)


United States, Baseball

The history of baseball in the United States dates way back to 18th century, when it was played on a largely amateur level with no formal rules. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States and today it is the most widely played sport in the country with leagues catering for all levels of experience. Major League Baseball is the highest level of baseball played in the U.S. and the richest professional baseball league in the world.



England, Cricket

Despite being increasingly overshadowed by football, England's national sport is actually cricket. In this year’s Cricket World Cup the team made it through to the quarter finals before being knocked out by Sri Lanka who won by 10 wickets. Interestingly the English national team is actually made up of several expats! Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott are originally from South Africa.



Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Calling all expats in Russia!

It’s the final countdown for this year’s Expat Explorer Survey and as we draw to a close we take a look back at the countries that made a splash in last year’s survey findings and those who still need to qualify for this year’s!

Last year expats in Russia were ranked the wealthiest in the World with 36% of expats earning over $250,000. Over three-quarters (85%) said they have more disposable income since moving and over three-quarters (76%) were able to save more since relocating. The country was seen as a good choice for those looking for financial gain or to progress their career, with 76% of expats moving there for this reason and just under a quarter (24%) of expats moving from the finance and banking industry. Increased costs mean that those based in Russia were likely to face higher prices for everyday items than in their home nation. 76% claim that food and drink is more expensive in Russia when compared to their home nation and over half (55%) agree that housing is also more expensive.



However, public transport was one area where expats make a saving when compared to their home nation; only 18% see spending on public transport as more expensive, compared to an overall average of 27%. Although Russia only scores 15th on the luxury scale, expats based there were still more likely to have domestic help (48% vs. 37%), own more than one property (27% vs. 18%) take more exotic holidays (67% vs. 46%) and own their own business (21% vs. 14%) than in their country of origin. However, the economic situation in Russia in 2010 did prove to be a worry for some expats. 45% of expats based in Russia agreed that the economic situation within the country had worsened in 2010, even though only 4% of those who thought the economy hadn’t improved are actively looking to move home.

Highlights from 2010

· Overall ranking: 1st out of 25
· Income: 2nd out of 25
· Disposable income: 1st out of 25
· Luxuries: 15th out of 25
· Wealth Hotspot: 1st out of 25


This year however we still need respondents for Russia to qualify so we are encouraging all expats in Russia to complete the survey to make sure they are represented in 2011. So now you’ve been reminded of the findings from last year let us know how 2011 compares and make sure you have your say!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Expat Excellence with Giorgina Cattaneo

Massimo Tumiotto, Italian, and Giorgina Cattaneo, Swiss, are a married couple who have lived in Marrakech, Morocco for the last two years, where they own and manage a small Maison d’Hotes, the “Riad le Clos des Arts”. However their expat life started a long time ago ….


The Art of Dreaming



Massimo, my husband, is a logistician by profession who left his home country at the age of 22. He had travelled with his family to East Africa when he was 10, a trip that had a strong impact on his dreams and ambitions for his adult life. Therefore as soon as he was offered the opportunity to work in “Africa”, he joined an Italian construction company that was building several kinds of infrastructures in Algeria, and instead of the elephants and forests he had in mind from his youth, he instead found himself sent to the desert. What had to be a 3 months experience soon became a long-term life style ending with the logistic support given to a team participating in the Paris-Dakar rally. After 4 years in Algeria he accepted a contract for 3 years with the same construction company in Tanzania. At this point of his life he was offered the opportunity by his government to work as a consultant in managing the logistics of several children refugee camps in Angola, which at that time was in a war situation. This experience touched him a lot, as he was faced with the hard conditions of life of a population in great need of all kind of basic services, which led him to consider completely changing his work environment.

He then decided to move back to Tanzania and establish himself as an entrepreneur in the tourist business opening a small tour operator company based in Dar es Salaam. With a partner he took over a tented camp in one of the biggest and most beautiful natural reserves in the country, which he managed for 14 years. In between, he also opened the first advertising company in Tanzania, which nowadays is a broadly established publishing company, which also delivers distributions services of educational materials in the country. Over the years he also undertook short missions to various other countries such as South Africa, Burkina Faso, Oman and Ethiopia.

On my side, I’m a trained architect, with work experience in Switzerland, Argentina and Peru, where I participated in archaeological excavations. After initiating my own activity as an architect, I never gave up on my dream to work in development cooperation, an interest I developed during my architecture studies. For this reason I pursued further postgraduate studies in Switzerland and then in India, where I also volunteered for a swiss-indian Ngo. On my return home I started job hunting and was given an opportunity to work in Tanzania, coordinating first a project with an association of women micro-credit cooperatives, followed then by a larger project aimed at improving the quality of the agro-food production in Tanzania for the UN agency for industrial development.

And finally, back in 2004 in Dar es Salaam, Massimo and Giorgina’s paths crossed each other … and they started dreaming together!
When we got married, we invited our friends and relatives to contribute to our social initiatives in Tanzania, in support of the local community instead of giving us piles of presents that we could hardly enjoy.

Whilst in Tanzania we began looking for a new challenge we could achieve together. We wanted to get closer to Europe so we decided to make Morocco our new home. The idea of having a Riad was a natural decision. In Tanzania, we were used to having a big house where friends, colleagues or travellers passing by would find a seat at the large table and a bed for the night.





At “Riad le Clos des Arts,” located in the old Medina of Marrakech, we now welcome guests that want to discover a different culture, dense of history and traditions. We love our life in Morocco, and our previous experiences have helped us settle in a new environment. We had already earned a lot of knowledge of the local habits, which we are happy to share with our guests. The new work gives us a lot of satisfaction, the biggest one being the fact of harmoniously working together!

We haven’t stopped dreaming though… but that is another story!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Moving abroad: the tale of Expat partners

In our 2010 Expat Explorer survey, 17% of expats asked had relocated in order to be with their partner. Here we take a look at the problems that can arise for expats and their families who are asked to move abroad for work purposes

Source: Flikr

In a recent survey of global relocation trends 61 percent of the companies asked expected to transfer more employees abroad in 2011 than in any other year.

What the findings also revealed was a worrying trend, coined as the case of the ‘trailing’ partner, in which the husband or wife of the person moving abroad was left disadvantaged by the move and struggling to find work. In fact, only 15% of s that were employed before their partner’s relocation were able to find overseas assignments, a 5% drop on last year’s results.

As the findings from the 2010 survey show, job prospects are a main driver for relocation however, countries that often offer a great chance to work your way up career the ladder don’t always provide a similar level of quality of life. This can be a serious concern for expats with families and children who want to make sure they establish a social life and are happy in their new home. In fact, re-establishing a social life came top of the poll for expat concerns in our 2010 survey.

What we can take from these findings is the need for expats to fully understand what their host country can offer them at all levels be that a career or raising a family

Are you the partner of an expat or have you had to move you family abroad due to work commitment? Maybe you have found the perfect place that balances your work and family life? Please share your stories with us. Also why not take part in this year’s Expat Explorer survey and share your experiences of living and working abroad?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Have your say, only two weeks left to complete the Expat Explorer Survey

With only two weeks left to complete the Expat Explorer Survey, time is running out to have your say! So take part now by clicking here

Expat Explorer is the largest global survey for expats, giving expats the world over the chance to share what it’s really like living and working overseas. The report gives you the chance to find out how your country ranks, how your fellow expats are coping or even where your next position might take you. Make sure your voice is heard and get involved today.

In 2010, over 4,000 expats shared their insights on everything from lifestyle to economic outlook and even the experience of raising a family abroad. Key findings from last year's survey found that, expat children live a better life overseas with Belgium ranking as the best place to raise expat children. Thailand, Canada and Bahrain were identified as the top three locations for improved expat lifestyle and BRIC countries were highlighted as emerging expat hotspots.

How has this changed over the past year? We’d like you to help us to find out.

All the support you can give is welcome so please spread the word amongst your friends, family and colleagues. The more people involved in the survey, the more valuable the results from the survey will be!

We hope you’re as excited about the results as we are!

Have your Say by completing the Expat Explorer 2011 survey today

Friday, 17 June 2011

Expat Excellence with Katherine Belliel

Katherine Belliel is an American freelance writer living in Istanbul, Turkey. Her work has appeared in the anthologies “Tales from the Expat Harem,” (Ashman and Gokmen, Seal Press 2005) and “Encounters with the Middle East,” (Khashan and Bowman, Traveler’s Tales 2007). She currently writes a weekly column of her adventures as an expat wife and mother for the daily Today’s Zaman under the pen name ‘Elle Loftis.’

In the Cupboard

When I moved to Istanbul, Turkey from the United States over eight years ago I tried to fill my kitchen with appliances and utensils I was familiar with. In those days, a microwave was a hard to find commodity. I brought a crock-pot from Michigan, and tried to have an electrician change the voltage in order for it to work in Istanbul. Measuring cups, a coffee pot, and even cookie sheets made the trans-Atlantic trek to my expat kitchen. Turkish cuisine is fantastic, and I longed to make the dishes I was proudly served by my Turkish friends and family but I didn’t know how.

My friend’s mom in particular took me under her wing. Trips to their home in the mountains of Bursa, about three hours from Istanbul, were culinary journeys that left me craving to re-create the same masterpieces in Istanbul.



Yogurt, a Turkish staple, homemade and mixed with crushed garlic and served with a variety of vegetables and pastas. Fragrant rice and pine nuts stuffed and rolled into grape leaves. Everything lovingly made by hand, without the use of measuring cups or measuring spoons. “Auntie Sevil, how much olive oil should I add?” I would ask, trying to take detailed notes in my recipe book. She would look at me stumped. For her, taste buds are the only way to measure how much of an ingredient should be added. Under her wing I not only learned how to cook Turkish cuisine, but also to truly enjoy the art itself. Stuffed grape leaves were tastier when neighbors and friends came over for a grape leaf rolling party. While sweat beaded on my forehead in concentration as I tightly rolled the delicate leaves, the expert ladies chatted and sipped tea, filling pans to my pitiful plate

Most of my women Turkish friends also are career women, but can still put together a meal that stuns me. Frozen, packaged dinners are basically unheard of in Turkey, and looked on askance. The convenience in America I sacrificed taste for became a non-issue here in Turkey. Now, I too make vast quantities of soup and freeze them in single serving portions if I want a future easy meal. I laugh as I remember my kitchen back in America that was almost twice the size of my expat kitchen. Filled with utensils and appliances that were barely used. My kitchen is now the busiest but smallest room in my house. Herbs such as parsley I buy fresh from the local bazaar, while my spice cabinet is crammed with spices I don’t know the English translation of, but use on a regular basis.

As the years passed, my kitchen slowly began to change. Like many parts of my American-ness, certain aspects fell away to reflect my hybrid life. The smell of filtered coffee is overpowered by the stronger smell of Turkish coffee, prepared on the stove in a copper cezve. I rarely drink Turkish coffee alone, only when a friend or neighbor is over and we can peer into the grounds of our overturned cups, guessing our fortunes.

Chocolate chip cookies don’t taste the same here, unless I add a heaping spoonful of yogurt to the dough. These cookies vie for space on the baking sheets with rolled borek, flaky pastries made from phyllo dough and stuffed with cheese. The crock-pot never worked, and now sits unused in a cabinet under the sink. A çaydanlık, a large teapot with a smaller teapot stacked on top sits on my stove and gets daily use. Tulip shaped tea glasses are at the front of my cupboard, tightly squeezed next to demitasse coffee cups. The measuring cups and spoons are only used when I make special American food, and rely on my old recipe book for specific measurements. And the microwave? Topped with a lace doily it makes a nice shelf. How has your kitchen changed since becoming an expat?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Findings work abroad and the challenges expats face

The impact of unrest in the Middle East on the expat community looks set to continue as King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz this week pressed ahead with his programme of Saudisation and attempts to tackle the country’s major issue of youth unemployment. As an interesting article in The National outlines,the private sector in Saudi has been given an ultimatum, cut the expat payroll or face a penalty.


Source:welovebusiness

This got us thinking about the wider challenges of expats finding work abroad. Interviews, CV’s and even scouring the classified advertisements are a fundamentally different proposition in another country with different languages and customs. What difficulties have you experienced?

As the findings from our 2010 Expat Explorer survey show, 57% of expats move abroad in search of better career/financial prospects but how smooth a journey is this? It’s true that emerging expat hotspots such as Brazil, Russia, India and China offer the biggest financial rewards but does this come easily or is the expat journey a complex one of compromise and trade off?

Please do tell us your thoughts as well as any tips you might have for finding work overseas. Also why not take part in this year’s Expat Explorer survey and share your experiences of living and working abroad?

Monday, 13 June 2011

To tip or not to tip....the importance of local customs

The transition from your home to host country can be a daunting to say the least but when the culture you are faced with is completely different to that of your own, how easy it is it to make?

Here at Expat Explorer this got us thinking...

What seems normal to you might be totally bizarre in your destination country so we have had a little dig for some interesting customs you could be faced with when moving abroad. Enjoy!


Source: Flickr

Thailand

Giving a gift in Thailand? Avoid wrapping your present in green, black or blue as these are colours traditionally used at funerals and in mourning.

China

No need for stuffy table manners! It is normal in China for your fellow diners eat with their mouth open, or talk with their mouth full. The Chinese love to eat, laugh and have fun whilst eating.

Denmark

Have you been invited to a wedding? Then keep schtum! The Danes believe that holding a public ceremony will infuriate ghosts...

Spain

Celebrating your first Christmas in Spain? You won’t be able to tuck in to your Christmas dinner until after midnight! After the meal, family members gather around the Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols. The rejoicing continues through the wee hours of the morning.

Japan

Unlike most European countries it is considered quite an insult to tip in Japan, where a price is a price. This goes for cabs, restaurants and personal care too. When you have already paid the asking price, why pay more?

Do let us know of any more customs strange customs you’ve come across and whilst at it, why not take part in our 2011 Expat Explorer Survey and share your experiences of life overseas.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Expat Excellence with Nick Winsor

This week Nick Winsor, CEO of HSBC Bank International shares with us some of his experiences of working and living abroad and why even after travelling the world he still finds it hard to name his favourite place!




I have been an expat for nearly 30 years now and have been lucky enough to live and work in many different countries. When people ask me questions like: "What is the best place to live?"or "What is your favourite country?"I find it difficult to answer. No matter where you are in the world, there is always something to enjoy and I guess that with all the moving around I have learned to appreciate different places for different reasons. Places that look tough on paper can turn out to be great fun, because everyone helps each other and generally it is the people that you meet that make the place.

However I would not say that I have worked anywhere really "tough" but to illustrate the point, in 1993, I moved to Brunei from Hong Kong - effectively from the Manhattan of Asia to the jungles of Borneo. Talk about a contrast! Brunei is a small place, without the restaurants, shopping and entertainment of Hong Kong where people tend to go out all the time. In Brunei people are really friendly and hospitable and most entertaining happens in people's houses, so it is more personal and you quickly get to know people. Elvira (my wife) and I met in Brunei and we still keep in touch with many of the friends that we met there.



The biggest challenge I faced was adjusting to the different pace of life and work. You leave a city of 6 million people one day and wake up in a town of 30,000 the next. It takes a while to adjust. However there are always people who are helpful and show you around and once I figured out I had things like the beach, golf and scuba-diving literally on my doorstep, I really started to enjoy my new surroundings.

My most recent move to Jersey has been a comparatively easy one, it’s a beautiful island and as I am originally from the UK, the transition has been less pronounced than my previous relocations. However There has still been a period of adjustment as Jersey is so different to the emerging markets where I have spent most of my career - I have referred to this process as decompression!

So whilst Jersey is a great place to live and work I would still find it hard to answer the question “What is your favourite country?” because wherever you travel you find you are able to make it feel like home.

We’d love to hear from you, let us know what you think on our blog and by filling out the 2011 Expat Explorer Survey

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Are money worries impacting the Expat community?

In the latest International Passenger Survey, (in which a quarter of million face-to-face interviews are carried out in a year with passengers entering and leaving the UK) conducted by the Office for National Statistics, the number of Britons leaving to live abroad has fallen by 50,000 since 2009.


In a recent post from Expat Explorer we looked at how the cost of pension transfers for retired expats is having a serious effect on their expat dreams but what would cause such a large decrease in the number of Brits chosing to move abroad?

One obvious reason stopping the mass migration of sun seekers is money. It’s inescapable, things are tough not only in the UK but in other popular expat destinations such as Spain where inflation and struggling currencies mean that getting by is just that little bit harder.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom when it comes to exploring overseas as the pull for European students to study abroad continues to grow. The number of students studying on the Erasmus Scheme, the world’s most succesful student exchange programme, has seen a record number of applicants handed grants. Could this mean more expats in the making..?

Do you have any thoughts you want to share with us on this topic?

Take part in the 2011 Expat Explorer survey

Monday, 6 June 2011

Expat workers, a force for good?

Last week there were a number of articles reporting on the new rules in Saudi Arabia limiting the stay of expatriate workers. Economists say that this could have sweeping effects on economic growth and productivity in the region that relies heavily on its foreign workforce. Whilst these laws are largely viewed as a positive move to tackle high levels of unemployment amongst young Saudis, laws that raise the cost of hiring locals and make it difficult for companies to employ foreigners will undoubtedly cause upheaval amongst Saudi’s businesses.



This recent example has left us thinking about the global makeup of a countries work force- what is the right balance between expat and local workers?

There are countless examples of expat work forces strengthening and contributing positively to a region’s economy and community. Most of us work alongside a range of people from across the globe and for the most part we don’t give it a second thought. We have become migratory and moving overseas for work is now common place so should there still be a distinction between expat and local workers? What value do you feel expats add to the economy?

We’d love to hear from you, let us know what you think on our blog and by filling out the 2011 Expat Explorer Survey

Friday, 3 June 2011

Expat Excellence with Jo Parfitt

Jo Parfitt is British and has been living abroad in five countries for over 20 years. She is the author of 27 books, runs Summertime Publishing, and helps new writers to get their book ideas planned, written and published. She is also a teacher and mentor and her workshops on writing life story, books, articles and blogging run regularly in the Hague. Her Definite Articles, and Write Your Life Story home study programs are available from her website, where her active blog inspires new writers.


Want to write a book about your life abroad? Jo Parfitt tells you how



It all began with Peter Mayle, who wrote A Year in Provence a startling 20 years ago. Chris Stewart followed a decade later with Driving Over Lemons, and then, in 2007, Elizabeth Gilbert published Eat, Pray, Love. Today, it seems, books about people doing stuff overseas have never been more popular.

But if ‘everyone’ is doing it, does that mean you can too? Maybe. However, as a publisher, who specializes in expatriate books I have learned a number of things:

§ That novels have a low cover price so there is not much profit in them.
§ That How To books solve a problem, so there is more potential to sell to people who do not know you personally.
§ That memoirs sell well if lots of people know about you already, perhaps you have an active blog or website or are a great networker. Alternatively, a memoir can sell well if you have a terrific story.
§ That what matters most is that you have a good idea.
§ That everything is written to a formula.
§ And that everyone needs practise, feedback and experience.

So, with that in mind, what follows is a list of five types of book that you could maybe consider writing too.

Five winning formulas
A ripping yarnSure, if you have had an exciting time overseas, have battled with a few grizzly bears or skeletons in your closet then you will likely have a compelling plot and a super story to tell. But if your own life story is unlikely to keep your readers awake at night turning pages, then what else could you write?

The How ToDo you know to do something that others do not? Can you build a house, cook with local fish, survive without money, grow an Internet business or emigrate to Australia? Then you could teach others how to do the same.

The culture bookIf you have been living in your new country for a while now, and know the ropes, how to buy a house, sell a car, set up a business and understand the locals, then you could write a guide for others who also want to live there. Culture Smart, Vacation Work, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are just four examples of publishers who are always looking for books just like this.

The knowledge
If you have been abroad for a while and don’t mind sharing some of your stories then you could support and inspire others in your position too. So, if you have adopted children overseas, brought up teenagers, learned how to speak a language, experienced and survived a divorce, a mixed marriage or moved multiple times then you could maybe write a useful book that would help others in your situation.

Local
If you live somewhere where there are lots of foreigners then you can write a book and sell it in the local market. In fact, if you can produce a book for your own market you will find it easy to sell those books in large numbers – because you are there! David Beckett has just done this with Amsterdam – the essence. I did so with a cookbook called Dates, which HSBC-wife, Sue Valentine I wrote when living in Oman.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Does the idea of planning for retirement vary across the globe?

Well, according to a new survey by HSBC, it does and the differences between East and West are more than apparent.

In their latest report, entitled The Future of Retirement: The Power of Planning, HSBC surveyed more than 17,000 people in 17 countries around the world looking at issues around retirement savings, increased life expectancy and population increase.

Emerging from the findings was the idea that Britons, despite being fully aware of the need to save, are burying their heads in sand and failing to address the issue of saving for their future, earning themselves the name the ‘ostrich generation’.



What was also clear from the report is that Britons worry most that they will be worse off in retirement than their parents. This attitude did was not apparent across the globe with Indian, Chinese and Malaysian respondents being the most optimistic that they would have a more comfortable retirement than mum and dad.

Have you got a pension that you contribute to or are you worried about saving for the future? As an expat, have you found saving through a pension much more difficult?

Let us know your thoughts and why not also take part in the 2011 Expat Explorer survey, the world’s largest study of expats.

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