Happy Holidays from …me

happy_holidayWe (I) here at ExpatYourself Headquarters (my desk at work) wish you a very happy holiday (a very, very happy holiday).

Just some insight into the expat lifestyle:
Tomorrow morning, my family and I leave for Rome, Italy. (In case I hadn’t said, we live in Prague, Czech Republic.)

We’ll spend a week in Rome, returning home on the 26th, Boxing day. For my 4 year daughter, Italy will be the fourth country where she’s woken up Christmas morning to see what Santa left her.

Only an expat kid would consider it perfectly fine to vacation in US, Czech Republic, Egypt and now Italy for Christmas.
Ever thought of doing the same?

Have a great one & see you next year!!!!

“This Isn’t What I’m Used To”

This article isn’t about culture shock. It’s about how we adapt and accept our new surroundings. (culture shock happens regardless)

Let me start with a personal story about my wife coming down to the USA from Canada.
Occasionally, she would utter “Oh, okay, that’s just not what I’m used to back home.” How do you think her more sensitive friends took this? Through a lens of “Canadian vs American”, some friends got offended.
It took some time before she figured out what was the issue, and then quickly learned not to compare.
And the differences between Canadian & American are more superficial and subtle than between say, American and Korean.

It’s important to be aware, not to compare.

I think it’s best explained by examples.

When you say: “Back home, we do it a bit differently.”
They may hear: “Back home, we do it better.”

When you say: “Our politicians could be jailed for attempting that.”
They may hear: “Our politicians are not as corrupt as yours.”

When you say: “Well, if I ever tried that back home, I would get in serious trouble.”
They may hear: “Back home, we respect the law, values & moral principles.”

When you say: “You know, we typically only consider them as pets.”
They may hear: “Damn, you all are savages, but I’ll admit it does taste good.”

Okay, maybe that last example was exaggerating, but I laughed when I wrote it.

My point is, whenever possible, try to think first how you might feel if a visitor said “back home” what you’re about to say.

Well, then, how to compare? Should I never point out that something is done differently?
— Of course you can! The crucial part is having your comparison immediately wrapped with genuine curiosity and a sincere interest in learning more.

When you say: “Wow, that’s interesting! Is that a special tradition?”
They hear: “Well, yes. {smiles} …about 700 years ago, our ….”

Sincerity – the key ingredient
With sincerity, you mean it and it shows. You start to become “one of the gang.”
Without sincerity, you sound like an arse who would sooner colonize the country for own selfish benefit.
Big difference in approach – bigger difference in outcome.

Expats Returning Home to UK, Spain, Ireland


I just read an article listing these 3 countries where expats are returning home in droves:

    United Kingdom

Reportedly, the big cause is the weak pound. No surprise there, the British sterling has been losing ground for months, even against a weakening dollar. What does this mean to expats paid in sterling? It means they don’t make as much locally as they used to AND their salary isn’t as powerful back home as it used to be. It’s a double-whammy that is a risk for expats when earning abroad and sending most of their wages home. (Incidentally, when it works the other way, it really is GREEAAATTT!)

The stats in summary: 37% more UK expats are returning home this year compared to last. For Spain, it’s 39%. And for Ireland, it’s a whopping 75%. ouch.

In short, if you’re from the UK, Spain or Ireland and you got a friend living abroad, then he may come knocking on your door sooner than you think. If you’re thinking of moving abroad, plan better than most or have a sweet package set up before leaving.

Here’s the rest of the article, if you’re interested.

Expats’ Top 10 Countries

You know you want to be an expat, but you don’t know where?
Make it easy on yourself — pick one of the Top 10, according to a massive survey of expats themselves.

  • 1. Canada
    2. Australia
    3. Thailand
    4. Singapore
    5. Bahrain
    6. South Africa
    7. France
    8. USA
    9. Spain
    10. Hong Kong

Oh, and if you’re wondering who was LAST: the UK. Why? Too expensive, arduous commutes, huge unemployment, etc.

An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps

For you (us) iPod Touch & iPhone owners, here is a great list of what we should have installed on our toys, er…devices. Well, it’s at least a great list to start with. Some of my personal favorites, not listed here include the Facebook app and at least one Tower defense game.

Continue reading An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps

Uh-Oh … Getting Laid Off?

What, me worry?
What, me worry?

Yesterday was a banner day in my career.

For a few weeks, I have been aware of impending layoffs.

For a few days, I heard foreigners (expat workers) in Prague may suffer most from the layoffs. (That includes me.)

And yesterday, I heard the rest – Yes, it includes me. I’ll be laid off.

So, I thought I would post about it.

Continue reading Uh-Oh … Getting Laid Off?

Elite or the Hired Help?


As an expat, are you the elite or the hired help?

Every expat knows their answer. The answer is different, depending on the country. In fact, it depends on two factors: what country you’re in and what country you’re from.

Depending on where you are, and from where you hail, you rank higher in social status or you rank below others.

In one case, your job is something that very few if any native citizens can fill. In the other case, they assume you fill a vacancy which no one locally wants.

In one case, native citizens assume your salary is much higher than theirs. In the other case, because you’re not local, you probably earn a pittance.

Why? In both cases, it’s because you’re an expat. Let’s look at some examples.

Continue reading Elite or the Hired Help?