Friday, August 20, 2010

The World at your Fingertips

by Expat Focus columnist, Toni Hargis

Toni Hargis
About the Author

Toni Hargis is the author of the popular expat book "Rules, Britannia; An Insider’s Guide to Life in the United Kingdom" and blogs as Expat Mum

If you'd moved thousands of miles across the Pond in 1990 like I did, it wasn't such a big deal. Television had given us details about many countries around the world so it was hardly an unknown quantity; even less so for me as I was moving to the USA. Although I now know the two countries can be quite different at times, television had made it seem so familiar that there was little anxiety before my move. I often wonder what early nineteenth and eighteenth century emigrants to American or Australia must have felt like - leaving families behind in Europe, knowing that they would probably never see them again and having at best, an unreliable mail service for communication. The Proclaimers' song "Letter from America" ( tells such a story.

These days, with the advent of the Internet, it sometimes seems like global relocation is no more arduous than popping down to your local supermarket for a pint of milk. Web sites and blogs such as Expat Focus mean that would-be emigrants and global nomads can literally find a house to rent on the other side of the world before setting foot outside their own country. Visa applications can often be tracked online, somewhat alleviating that arduous process. Isn't it great?

Recently on my Expat Mum blog, I had a request for information from an English woman about to move to the Chicago suburbs. Not only was I able to answer her questions, but by posting her letter on my blog, my readers added to my response. It might not sound like much, but knowing not to bother buying a winter coat in the UK (more expensive and not up to the job) is one less thing to worry about when you're in the throes of packing your life up into moving boxes. Additionally, she'll hear from people who have less of a horror about the remote suburbs than I do, and thus will end up with a more balanced picture...


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