Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Season's Greetings!

So, another Christmas in the bag and if you're anything like me plenty of New Year's resolutions regarding weight loss coming up very shortly. Looking towards next year as far as Expat Focus is concerned, we feel as though the foundations have been laid and 2007 is the year we really start to build. That's going to be a two pronged strategy with content being developed in-house but also a much greater emphasis than previously on submissions from our members and visitors (after all, you're the experts.) More news on that in the New Year but until then, enjoy the holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2006

5.5m Britons 'opt to live abroad'

Interesting news item today on the BBC web site:

Almost one in 10 British citizens is living overseas, according to a study of people coming in and out of the UK. Studies by the Institute for Public Policy Research, published on the BBC News website, indicate that at least 5.5m British-born people live abroad. Figures suggest the rate of departure has been so great that population falls are only masked by immigration. While Australia and Spain are the top locations, increasing numbers are heading to major Asian economies. The research by the institute (IPPR) is the first significant attempt to put a figure on the number of British citizens who live overseas...

Full article here

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Party in Den Haag to support Education Initiative

74 students in the Executive MBA programme at RSM Erasmus University invite you and your friends to some funky music on the evening of Saturday, 9th December 2006 in The Hague, Netherlands. This initiative aims to raise money for 200 children from ages 7 to 15 in Colombia’s coffee-growing region of Risaralda.

The money raised in the party will go to the 200 children and subsequently benefit the local community in the long term. These 200 children will receive better education and will acquire management / trading skills to help them succeed in their environment. 26 rural teachers will be trained in new methodologies in order to guarantee the continuity of the initiative. The Tambores School will receive new didactic materials and equipment, including textbooks, an improved library, a micro-lab and personal computers with internet connection. Productive Pedagogic Projects for coffee and food security will be implemented in the school and 10 farms...

The project will be executed by Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC): an agricultural NGO founded in 1927 by Colombian coffee farmers and dedicated to the sustainable development of coffee-growing in Colombia. (

According to Nicolas Rueda, project manager, EMBA 06 student and director of the European office of CafĂ© de Columbia: “We will fund three programs at the school for one year: "School and Coffee," "Post Primary" and "Virtual School." These programs give children enhanced education and convey skills and knowledge important for them to succeed in their rural environments and escape from poverty. Indeed, the project goes beyond charity: it is a high-involvement sustainable development initiative.”

Mike Page, Dean of the Post Experience Programmes of the RSM Erasmus University, is proud of his students. “I think they do a great job. By adopting this programme, they put immediately into practice what they learn during the EMBA programma and help this school in an excellent, sustainable way. I hope they will raise much more than 50,000€ and will be able to support other schools as well.”

About the programme

This program is part of the New School (Escuela Nueva) methodology implemented since 1975 by Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia and promoted by the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF. The New School methodology is a basic education program designed to improve the quality of rural schools in the country. It promotes the strengthening of ties between school and community through active and participative learning. As an innovation, School and Coffee prepares a new generation of coffee farmers, providing pupils with administrative and technical skills related to sustainable agricultural production. The RSM EMBA 06 contribution will be to fund teacher training and acquisition of didactic materials for one year. The Post-Primary extends flexible, interactive education to secondary education pupils in Grades 6 to 9. The RSM EMBA 06 contribution will be to fund teacher training and acquisition of didactic materials for one year. The Virtual School supports the education program by providing the school with modern communication technologies such as internet. The RSM EMBA 06 contribution will be to equip the school with computer hardware and software and internet connections and fund teacher training. More information can be found at

Friday, December 01, 2006

Keeping the forums spam free

With fairly popular forums we occasionally suffer from the odd spammer trying to sell his or her wares (usually mobile phones) but these types of posts are usually brought to our attention and removed, along with the user account in question, within just a few minutes. I'd like to take a moment to thank all of our members and moderators who play such an effective role in keeping the forums free from spam and other undesirable posts, without your help it would simply be impossible to keep the forums going and develop other areas of the site at the same time. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brits Keen to Work Abroad ... But Not to Learn the Language

A survey has found that the British are increasingly eager to work overseas. 86% of people questioned said that they had seriously considered working in another country. Yet the survey, which was carried out by intercultural communications consultancy Kwintessential, also found that over two thirds of those eager to become expatriates could not speak the local language.

The Kwintessential poll was conducted through the company's website starting in July 2006 with a sample of over 300 individuals. The results showed that meain reasons people are tempted to abandon their British posts are for a better work-life balance and the challenges of working in a different culture. Contrary to popular opinion, only 11% of those questioned identified better weather as a strong motivation for moving away from the British Isles.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Austria guide on the way

As part of the efforts to expand our range of country guides I'm delighted to announce that an expat guide to Austria will shortly be available online. Any requests for future guides are always welcome, just drop us a line.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I thought it might be interesting to plug the words "expat" and "expatriate" into Google's image search engine and see if anything interesting came up. Well, apart from being able to report that a website called "Expat Harem" isn't what I thought it would be (in fact, it's much better), it turns out there's also a comic called "The Expatriate"! I'm not much of a comic book expert but here's a glimpse (see pic) of the kind of thing this particular expat gets up to.

That's right, just another day at the office :-)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Expat kids and bullying

Regular visitors to the Expat Focus forums may recall some recent discussions about the bullying in foreign schools experienced by some of our members' children. A recent article at Expatica confirms that being an expat kid might indeed make life harder at a local school. The question remains, though, how much is due to the local culture and how much to human nature? Both play a role in the way outsiders are viewed by communities and the answer is likely to vary from one country to another. Just as important is how seriously the schools view the problem and what steps they are willing to take to combat it, something all expat parents should ask about when searching for the best school for their kids.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Writing for Expat Focus

Expat Focus is a website for expats, by expats. If you're someone who has already made the move abroad you will almost certainly have information of use to others - why not share it? You don't need to be a great writer (we can tidy things up), all you need is the willingness to help others by sharing your experiences.

If the above sounds good, how do you get started? Simple - think about what you've learnt from your own experiences. It might be something applicable to all expats or maybe just something of use to those heading to your own country, city, town etc. It really doesn't matter, if it's something you think might help someone else and you're able to write at least 500 words about it then we're interested in publishing it at Expat Focus.

If you'd like to contribute an article, or even start writing regularly for Expat Focus, please contact Jo James on

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Health advice for expats (joke)

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.
The French and Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British.

Eat & drink what you like. It's speaking English that kills you.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Home page improvements

Regular visitors to Expat Focus may have noticed that we removed the "Latest Forum Posts" section from the home page last week. This was due to the large number of database queries it was using which were causing unacceptably long load times. We've now replaced it with different code which seems to be working much better, thanks to everyone who took the time to report the original problem.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Marbella construction scandal

A family friend recently returned from a holiday in Spain and happened to mention the remarkable number of new houses she'd noticed which were under construction in some of the more popular tourist and expat locations. Perhaps somewhat cynically I said something along the lines of "I hope they're still standing next year" and it transpired that she was unaware of the utterly shameful construction scandal which has recently hit certain Spanish resorts. I Googled it when we got home and found that one of the best overviews of the whole sorry affair can be found here (on the "World Socialist Web Site" of all places). Anyone considering purchasing property abroad should spend some time following the story of those expats who may now have lost their entire life savings to be left with nothing, it makes disturbing reading.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Email group

Even long time members of the Expat Focus website are sometimes unaware that in addition to the forums there is also an email discussion group where people can exchange expat news and information. It's a Yahoo group so membership is separate from that used to access the website but registration is quick and easy. Head along to the group's home page here and see what you think! (PS the group is moderated and spam free)

Monday, October 30, 2006

British expats trapped in the sun

A new warning from the British Foreign Office makes grim reading for expats planning to retire to sunnier climes.

'It is astonishing how many retirees make no plans or provisions for their future health and wellbeing when they retire abroad,' said Steve Jewitt-Fleet of the Foreign Office. 'The majority of British nationals do not register with local authorities and often the FCO only hears about these people when they get into serious difficulties.'

See here for the full story.

Friday, October 27, 2006


The thing which excites me most about working with expats is that so much of it is to do with human relationships. The way expats relate to a new culture and the way native inhabitants respond to them is often fascinating. Sometimes the relationship which grows is a positive one, at other times it's one characterised by suspicion or prejudice. In my experience moving abroad often brings out the very best or the very worst in people (both those moving abroad and those who are locals in the destination country) and it's that polarisation which can lead to either long lasting friendship or deep seated enmity. Our ability to form real friendships with locals once abroad is often a key factor in determining our relationship with their culture on a broader scale. Most of the time, we find they're just like us, warts and all.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interesting Times

It's been an interesting couple of weeks at Expat Focus with the release of our first downloadable e-book, "The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad". Downloads have been encouraging with a large number of existing members taking advantage of the 50% discount until the end of the month. After listening to the feedback we're now working hard to offer our country and city guides in a similar format, a lot of people are finding the ability to print the guide out as a PDF file very useful.

Talking of the country guides, we're always keen to hear which countries you'd like us to cover which aren't already available. Use the feedback form and let us know!

Welcome to the Expat Focus blog!

Welcome to the official Expat Focus blog! We'll be using this as a fairly informal mechanism for keeping people up to date with what's going on at the Expat Focus website.