Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bookshops Abroad


The Best English-Language Bookshops Abroad

If Kindles aren’t your thing, reasonably-priced English language bookshops can be difficult to find. Whether you’re after an ancient bookshop stacked to the rafters with dusty old classics or a modern bookshop featuring the latest English bestseller, we’ve selected the best five English language bookshops worldwide to get you started. What’s more, most of our chosen bookshops don’t just sell books – they are crucial hubs for you to meet and talk to other expats. So, give yourself an hour to explore, head to these bookish idylls, order a cup of tea, check out the flyers advertising the weekly book club, and thumb through book after book after book…

Shakespeare and Company 37 Rue de la Bucherie, Paris, France
You’ll find books crammed in wherever there’s space – in the aisles, triple stacked on the shelves, on steps and chairs. Bespectacled readers, using a stack of hardback books as seats, are tucked into every available cranny. On the ground floor, there are brand new and in-print titles, while the upstairs is a warren of second-hand volumes on anything from Hemingway to Sophocles. You can spend hours browsing, reading and reflecting.

Dasa Book Café – Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Dasa Book Café is one of Bangkok’s most popular second-hand bookshops. If you fancy a break from the hectic bustle of Bangkok, you’ll find gentle music, coffee and tasty cakes, and over 12,000 books crowding the shelves.  If you know exactly what you want, they also feature all of their stock online so that you can check it out before you waste your time getting there. What’s more, if you want to meet people, they host a monthly book club for Westerners and Thais alike.

American Book Centre - Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Head to the American Book Centre – or ABC – to find a fantastic range of books and English magazines, all conveniently organised. What’s more, this is no ordinary bookshop but a real social hub. There’s a huge number of ways to make friends in the community, from attending book-signings and conferences, to participating in writers’ workshops and even taking a yoga course. Rough sections of a huge tree lend the shop the feel of a real tree house.

The Book Attic – Cockloft, 2 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong
Second-hand, affordable English bookshops are in short supply in Hong Kong, but thankfully The Book Attic has come to your rescue. It’s a charming little shop packed with over 5,000 titles with an owner who – as any self-respecting bookshop owner should be– is passionate about books and reading. With the famed ability to transform any dog-eared book she’s given, she also runs a book club and poetry evenings. If you’re after a particular title, you can also add it to the wish list, sent to all members every month.

 The Bookworm – Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100027, China

A bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space – this library has it all. Whether you’re after a good book (and there are over 15,000 lining the walls), a cosy space to catch up with friends over an espresso and salad, or a place to meet new friends (and the odd eminent author), then head to The Bookworm. In the evening, you can bring your book up to the roof terrace for a cocktail, or if you’re still in Beijing in March then make sure you check out the Bookworm’s very own International Literary Festival. They also have branches in Suzhou and Chengdu.

Do you have a favourite English language bookshop you’d recommend to other expats? Let us know!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Top Five Tips to Beat Homesickness



Moving abroad is huge decision, one that brings on a wide spectrum of emotions, from excitement to fear, from stress to delight. An extremely common emotion during the expat process is homesickness. It is an almost inevitable part in the great transition of moving abroad that can detrimentally affect the entire experience.

Here are five useful steps to help beat the blues:
     
1. Socialise: get involved in as many activities and organisations as possible. Taking up a new hobby  is a great way to keep distracted and meet new people. Immersing yourself in a new routine will help detach you from the aspects of home life that you are missing most.

2.  Home comforts: If you are feeling particularly homesick try to do something that you associate with home. For instance watch a television programme or film that reminds you of home, or eat food that you would normally have at home.
     
3.  Talk: “A problem shared is a problem halved” - If you feel really down, talk to someone about it. Even if they can’t do something to directly help, getting an issue off your chest will make you feel better. Also, talk to the friends and family that you miss from home. Not too regularly however as too much contact will only make you miss them more. Try to work a Skype session into your routine, maybe once or twice a week.

 4. Get away: Take a day trip to somewhere new that you think you would enjoy. Getting away but not going home may give you a fresh perspective on your situation plus a change of scenery may distract you from your worries.

5. Stay positive: wallowing in your own sadness will not help how you feel, except probably make you feel worse. Try to spend as much time as possible around people instead of suffering in silence on your own.


Overall it is important to throw yourself in at the deep end. Immerse yourself in your new location, attempt to learn as much about the culture, and meet as many people, as you can.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Expat Sound of Music



Music is a great method of escapism in hectic times, and is a way of connecting with a new place and new people.

Listening to music at the end of the day is a useful tool of reflection and relaxation, detaching you from the stresses of everyday life, especially the stress facing new expats who are adjusting to a different way of life.

As well as the escapism factor, music can be extremely useful in social situations. It can act as a great ice breaker, sparking conversations, and uncovering common interests for expats trying to make new friends abroad.

Of upmost importance for new expats is the way in which music brings people together for social events. Music concerts and gigs are an excellent way of meeting people and forming friendships, as well as being a way to uncover exciting social hang outs in your new hometown. There are some fantastic music venues around the world, including:

Paradiso, Amsterdam – A 19th century Church transformed into a three floor music venue  

Dalhalla, Amphitheatre, Sweden – Located in a limestone quarry, the stage is separated from the audience by a moat      

Sydney Opera House, Australia – Breath-taking world famous venue that houses a wide variety of music events (not just opera!), multiple rooms and halls to cater for different events as well a multitude of bars and restaurants.

Blue Frog, Mumbai – A great chance to experience what the modern Indian music scene has to offer, in stylishly elegant surrounding

Bar Brahma, Sao Paolo - For popular Brazilian music look no further. This music venue and restaurant first opened in 1949 as a meeting place for artists, politicians and intellectuals

Listening to the local music of a country is an ideal way of learning cultural information. Traditional music especially can give a huge insight into the cultural present and past of a country, which is vital information for a newcomer. These venues can offer some of the best local talent as well as hosting some better known acts as well.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Secret Sanctuaries


Moving to a big city can often mean sacrificing that little patch of green we are sometimes guilty of taking for granted. However, city-dwellers need not despair! If you are lucky enough to have a balcony or perhaps a roof terrace (or even a window ledge!) there are loads of things you can do to bring nature that little bit closer to you.

Rooftop gardens have been growing in popularity for many years now. As our population continues to expand our green spaces have contracted. This is no more apparent than in major cities such as London and New York. The more resourceful amongst us began to make the most of what little outside space we had and the rooftop garden was born!

The Orchid Central Roof Gardens in Singapore (Chu Yut Shing)

Gardens can help bring peace and tranquillity, elements that are often lacking in heavily built-up areas. They also give those blessed with green fingers a chance to make something beautiful out of a tiny packet of seeds. All you’ll need to get started is:

·        Containers - These can come in any shape or form depending on your personal preference but be sure they aren’t too heavy for your outside space!
·        Soil / fertiliser - Plants in pots will need their soil changing every year and will need to be fertilized regularly
·      Tools - You’ll need far less tools to maintain your patch than a you would for a big back garden. Some gloves, a trowel and a pair of pruning scissors should do

But roof gardens can offer so much more than a slice of suburbia. In Singapore they’re put forward as a measure to help flooding, caused by the city’s dramatic growth and disrupted weather patterns. A quick fix perhaps but by installing gardens onto the city’s skyline, rain fall will be absorbed, preventing it from falling into the streets below – genius!   

Are you a keen gardener? Tweet us a picture of your personal oasis! @expatexplorer

Monday, 6 August 2012

Top 10 Expat Explorer blog posts


    A re-cap of the most popular posts on Expat Explorer in July:












Our blog on Rome was the most read post during July. Using figures from the 2011 Expat Explorer survey we take a look at life in Rome and what it is like to live there as supposed to visit as a tourist.

This is one of the most consistently read posts on the blog. Leaving loved ones behind is always hard and our post does its best to help expats who are away from home.

Bored of the day job? Work for yourself and live abroad. Tara Agacayak gives us a run-down of her experience as an expat entrepreneur.

Interested in what was read the most in June? One of the top articles in July was finding out about the most read posts in June!

US Independence Day, how do expats in the US celebrate the day? Find out on our 5th most popular blog post in July.

Expat moves to France and sets up a country inn in the middle of nowhere. That is what Julia Stagg decided to do, read her story here.

Another top favourite, mummy bloggers give their views on the daily challenges they face being abroad with children.

Aidan is a real foodie, this blog post gives her run down of expat life in France and the daily encounters with French cooking.

Sleepy life in the south of Italy is something Scott Bergstein liked the idea of. Check out his post which includes its fair share of Italian cooking and inexpensive living.

It does what it says on the tin! Read why this particular expat loves life in Moscow. 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing...Paul Fowler


Beer in Bogota by a Brit



As an expat one of the most challenging things about living abroad can be leaving behind certain rituals deep-rooted in your culture. For many an Englishman, this will be cradling pint after pint in a dingy, carpeted pub that sells beer at room-temperature. Not to mention decent home-brewed ale, or the atmosphere when a good football game is on.

I lived in Buenos Aires for some time and missed this about my home culture. When I was offered a job in Bogota I expected much the same, and at first things didn't really deviate from my expectations. Average quality beer (Poker and Aguila) in tiendas (small shops with tables) seemed to be the norm. After a little while, however, the pub culture became far more apparent.

In fact, there is a wealth of pubs here serving everything from fish and chips to a decent curry to a steak and ale pie and home-brewed beer.

Some postulate that the success of pubs in Bogota is thanks to the cool climate of the city, which undoubtedly has some truth in it. On top of that, however, is the fact that Bogota swarms with trendy, middle-class types that have travelled and enjoyed what they experienced. Furthermore, of course, there's the fact that with quality comes clients, and there's no doubting the quality of some of Bogota's pubs.

Without further ado, here are my top five:

Bogota Beer Company

Bogota Beer Company has the rightful claim to have started all this pub business in Bogota. Not too long ago there was little on offer in terms of delicious beer, but one Bogotano had the smart idea to start up his own microbrewery in the city and, since then, the company has just grown and grown. One of the biggest, most recognizable brands in Bogota, if you come to the city a visit to one of the many BBC branches is a must.

El Ingles

Run by a Southampton native, El Ingles offers homely
English food accompanied by reasonably priced drink. While there is no home-brew beer available, the quality of the full-English breakfast and the cosy ambience of the place more than makes up for that.

The Monkey House

A new spot in town, The Monkey House is located near the fashionable Gourmet Zone of Bogota. Boasting a range of home-brewed beers as well as a dazzling array of international lagers, stouts and ales, it's second to none for variety. On top of that they do a damn fine curry and a good steak and ale pie. Expect the rowdy
English expats there for the big football games.

Britannia Pub

A little outside the centre of the city, in the area of Salitre, is the modern and impressive Britannia Pub. It's run by a Welshman with a penchant for beer and offers up one of the finest beers in town - the Sierra del Tigre. Of all the fish and chips I've tried abroad, these come closest to the real thing.

The Eight Bells

With a name like The Eight Bells (as opposed to say 'Guinness Pub') one can be confident of strolling into a place that knows what makes a pub. Indeed, The Eight Bells takes top prizes for looking and feeling most like a pub in
England, despite the fact the food and drink might not be as unique as elsewhere. Cosy, warm and homely, I feel like I could drop my grandad here and, barring the Spanish-speaking waiters and table-service, he'd swear he was right back home in Sheffield.


About the author
Paul Fowler is a writer and editor for www.seecolombia.travel/blog. He has been working in South America over 2 years since moving to Buenos Aires in 2010. Now living in Colombia, he spends his time doing what he loves: travelling, writing and sampling local beers.




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