Monday, December 30, 2013

Considering A Move Overseas? Good News If You’re A Doctor, Engineer Or Bee Keeper

Leading international relocation specialist, Robinsons Relocation, has released a list of the most ‘in-demand’ vocations for Brits wanting to start a new life overseas – as well as some of the more unusual roles currently sought.

Based on data gleaned from Robinsons’ 15,000 international relocations completed in the last 12 months, it has cross referenced its most popular emigration destinations - Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand and Spain - with the most in-demand jobs in each country.* And while medics, engineers and the professional services are in high demand across the board, there are also a few surprises, with New Zealand needing bee keepers and wine makers, Canada in short supply of chefs, and Australia wanting map makers!

Most ‘unusual’ jobs across five most popular destinations

1. Bee Keeper (NZ)
2. Wine Maker (NZ)
3. Stallion Master (AUS)
4. Cartographer (AUS)
5. Locksmith (AUS)
6. Chef (CAN)

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Expat Experience: Chrissie in Nice, France

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Chrissie, an Australian living and working in Nice, France. Like many of my compatriots, I headed off to discover the world upon completion of my university degree and ended up here in the sunny South of France. That was back in 2007. When I first arrived I was offered an administrative position with an English company who supply fine wines to the super yachts which invade the Mediterranean each summer. I’ve been there ever since, and thanks to further training (and dedicated tasting) I now have a very fulfilling wine sales role.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

It all started in 1998 when I’d just finished high school. My big sister was already living in Nice and suggested I defer university for a year.

Instead I could come and live with her and enroll in an intensive French course. I didn’t need much convincing! I fell in love with Nice straight away and always hoped to return at some point. When I finished university I travelled on and off for about 18 months before ending up back where it all started! It helped to have family around, although my sister has now returned home to Australia after 20 years here. I also have a French passport, thanks to my mother, which I’m more than grateful for. Without it I would never have been able to stay.

What challenges did you face during the move?

I guess I was lucky as I left Australia in my mid-twenties with only my backpack and a desire to see where the wind took me! I didn’t have to worry about moving a family and issues such as finding schools or appropriate housing. A return ticket to Australia was booked so I knew that if my new life in France didn’t work out I could simply use that ticket to head home. I still don’t know how, but somehow I found a job and a room in a flat share within a week of arriving in Nice. I haven’t looked back since!

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Tales From A Spanish Village: Two Old Fools and Passports

Victoria Twead
The reason we wanted extra burglar bars fitted, and doors replaced, was because we were planning to visit Australia this winter. We wanted to leave the house secure and watertight. We had contacted our builders in March, thinking that would give them plenty of time to complete the job.

Nine months later they finally turned up to begin work in earnest. But things never go smoothly in our village. Their arrival coincided with a major overhaul of El Hoyo's sewage system and a resurfacing of the main street. Unable to bring their equipment to our house, the builders shrugged and disappeared again.

"I guess we should check our passports," I said to Joe. "Then we can book flights as soon as the building work is done."

To my horror I discovered that our passports expire in January. I hurriedly researched the renewal process for overseas residents. A hefty fee of £295.72,(ouch!) a signed declaration form and two passport photos were required. That seemed simple enough.

"Have you ever seen a photo booth anywhere?" I asked Joe.

He thought hard. "Nope, I don't think so. I guess we'll have to go to a photography shop?"

Our neighbours, having never been out of Spain, had no idea where we might find a booth or shop that produced passport photos. So we went in search of a photography shop.

"Passport photos? No, we only do weddings, family portraits and fiestas," said the assistant, surrounded by galleries of arty photos showing smiling brides and happy families...

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Why I Love The British Boxing Day

Michelle GarrettAs an American living in the UK one of my favourite days of the year is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. The day off, after Christmas. Until I moved to the UK I had never heard of Boxing Day.

Boxing Day is a public holiday originating in England, which is now celebrated in many other countries in the commonwealth with a mainly Christian population.

As with many modern traditions, Boxing Day may have started as a pagan Anglo-Saxon offering of parcels of food and gifts to the poor, the day after the mid-winter feasting and celebrations. The tradition continued into Christian England. The current name is thought to have possibly originated when these gifts of food were given the day after the wealthy landowners celebrated Christmas and the generous leftovers were boxed up and distributed among the labourers, servants, and trades people who were employed by the landowners. As England became the United Kingdom and developed the commonwealth, the tradition was spread throughout much of the world.

Today Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated in the UK on 26 December, or St Stephens Day, the day after Christmas Day. Unlike St. Stephen's Day, Boxing Day is a secular holiday. Although the day after Christmas is considered Boxing Day no matter what day of the week it falls on, if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the public holiday will be carried over until the following weekday, giving workers the benefit of the day off. Equally, if Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday and Sunday, they are celebrated on Saturday and Sunday, but Monday and Tuesday will be public holidays...

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter on the French Riviera

Kim Defforge
After an enjoyable Indian summer, cooler temperatures have arrived along with this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday of November at midnight, the legally regulated release day and time and a worldwide annual celebration of a red wine from Beaujolais, located in the Burgundy region of France. With lighted streets and holiday cheer, Nice’s main square, Place Massena, is the center of December’s holiday festivities: holiday market craft chalets, lighted holiday decorations, snow-flocked trees, a giant, lighted ferris wheel, and an ice skating rink. It’s a nice time to be in Nice, whether here as a visitor or as a resident 24/7 in France.

During and following the holiday season on the French Riviera, final preparations are also in progress for the following year’s annual, winter festivals - all of them coordinated to take place during the same time period, so that visitors can enjoy all the parades, floats, and entertainment.

Nice Carnival

The city’s iconic Mardi Gras Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in the world and is known for its parades of vibrantly-colored floats (“corsos”), decorated with roses, mimosas, carnations (the official flower of Nice), and other flower varieties; the giant headed and massive figures (“grosses têtes”), especially the King and Queen always heading the current-year themed carnival procession (“Corso Carnavalesque”); musicians and dancers, rainbow-colored confetti; silly string among the festive crowds; and the infamous “Bataille des Fleurs”, where mimosa and other flowers are thrown to spectators...

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The 5 Best Beaches in Costa Rica That No One Knows About

Shannon Enete
While it’s no secret that Costa Rica is home to some of the best beaches in Central America, where to find them can often be a challenge. Living in Costa Rica has afforded me the time and relationships with locals that privy me to this sacred information that I will now share with you.

Playa Bejuco (pronounced bay-who-ko)

A 35 minute drive south of Jaco will lend you to an expansive coconut-palmed oasis. It’s easy to miss, however, so keep a watchful eye out for the single-access dirt road marked Playa Bejuco. There is one small grocery, or pulpería, where you can buy a snack along the dirt road. After about a half-mile you will reach the café colored beach where you can park, hang a hammock in the ample coconut trees, or venture south another half-mile to the Delfin, a small hotel and bar and enjoy a cold beverage.

What makes this beach special is it’s vastness both in girth and length, and it’s lack of popularity. You can walk in either direction for miles without running out of beach. Most days the only other people you run into are local fisherman trying their luck with a net or fishing line thrown by hand with a lasso maneuver. Sundays and holidays are the exception to this rule, since the locals tend to honor the Sabbath at the beach...

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas in Panama, or, What the Heck Am I Doing Here?

Susanna Perkins
My husband and I really detest the cold weather. Back in the early fall of 1988, we looked at each other one blustery morning and asked, “do we really want to go through another winter?”

The answer was an unequivocal No!, so we put our house on the market and moved with our (then) four kids to Central Florida.

Contrary to popular belief, it can get cold in the Orlando area and even freeze (although nothing like the bone-chilling temperatures of the Northeast). Every winter my husband would say to me, “I don’t think we moved far enough south.”

Now we’re coming up against our second Christmas in Panama. We’ve definitely moved far enough south – average daytime temperature here year-round is 90 degrees (that’s 32 for those of you who measure in Celsius). It never freezes and it certainly never snows.

But then come those holidays and traditions that we always associate with cold weather – in our case, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Last year, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving-style dinner with lots of friends at one of the local restaurants. Then a few weeks later, our youngest daughter, a junior in college at the time, flew down to spend Christmas with us.

We were delighted to spend Christmas Eve with local friends, where we enjoyed their traditional Christmas foods and festivities. On Christmas day itself, we brought dessert to a North American friend’s house where we dove into a feast of dishes that were part of several different family’s Christmas traditions.

It was altogether satisfactory.

This year? Not so much. …

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crowdfunding: 3 Tips for Expat Entrepreneurs Raising Capital

Kristin Spindler
Crowdfunding is a buzzword I’ve heard a lot lately – in Dubai, London and New York. Last winter, over dinner in Dubai, family friend Jeff told us about his new business-– an online platform to raise equity for start-up businesses. Fast-forward 16 months since launch, and Jeff Lynn, CEO of London-based Seedrs Limited, has raised over £2 million ($3.24 million) of equity for 48 companies in the United Kingdom.

Crowdfunding 101

So what exactly is crowdfunding? That dinner was the first time I’d heard the term “crowdfund” an acronym which stands for Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud (and) Unethical Non Disclosure. According to the Oxford Dictionary, crowdfunding is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

There are several types of crowdfunding: 1) donation-based campaigns such as those for schools and museums, 2) rewards-based campaigns where goods are received for contributions, 3) debt campaigns which raise money via loans repaid with interest, and 4) equity/share investments in companies, by far the fastest growing segment, and the focus of this article.

The Dubai Crowd:

The equity crowdfunding phenomenon is newer but growing in Dubai. At a seminar hosted by law firm Taylor Wessing at the end of October, Loulou Khazen Baz, founder of online employment marketplace explained how she was the first to raise $100,000 in 12 days on crowdfunding platform Launched in May, 2013, Eureeca connects Middle Eastern entrepreneurs with a crowd of investors who can invest as little as $100 USD in SMEs.

Top Tips From the Experts:

Seedrs’ Jeff Lynn and Nabbesh’s Loulou Baz have the following advice for entrepreneurs looking to raise equity capital via the internet...

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Monday, December 09, 2013

Grumpy Gets Jazzed Up In Guimarães, Portugal

Christine Morgan
It’s actually quite difficult, even for me, to be grumpy in November but I try. The trees explode in tones of russet and amber, the air is crisp and the rain stops, albeit temporarily. St Martin’s day, on November 11th is famous for its Indian summer. Actually the sun does show its face but it still feels freezing, so it’s my advice to admire the sun through a window whilst huddled round an open fire eating chestnuts. Eating Chestnuts is, in fact, what you do on St Martin’s day, along with copious amounts of food and beverage in the company of friends or family. Then you reach for the Andrews liver salts (if you are lucky enough to have any) to curb the subsequent indigestion.

The best thing about November in Guimarães though, by far, is the annual Jazz festival. It runs for 2 weeks and has been held here for over 20 years attracting some of the big names from the jazz world to this tiny corner of Europe.

This year I managed to see Ron Carter. I scurried there after work on the first Friday (the soft melodic sound had me dozing off at one point, proving I am not as young as I used to be and really should have been in bed). Of course it was well worth staying up for, but sadly I had to turn down invites from my girlfriends to go on to the après jazz session following. Some of us have to get up early on Saturdays...

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Author of 'Oh God, My Wife Is German', Hannover

Who are you?

I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I am a freelance graphic designer and copywriter, and an avid blogger of all things humorous (though I most often take aim at subjects like Germany, expat life, culture shock and my beautiful -- and unintentionally hilarious -- German wife.)

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Germany in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife. If she'd been from England, I would have moved to England. Had she come from Italy, I would have moved to Italy. Had she been from Siberia, I would have said, "Sorry honey, but I'm sure there's a very nice guy for you in Siberia. Probably the quiet type, because he's frozen to death."

What challenges did you face during the move?

My wife and I lived together in Portland before we moved to Germany, and in that last year, we were both working full-time jobs, planning our destination wedding, arranging for my wife's future career in Hannover, and worrying about how I was going to continue my own career in Germany without speaking the language. It was probably the most stressful year of our lives thus far, and we dealt with it by eating cake, pizza and drinking copious amounts of beer. (My wife looked amazing in our wedding pictures. I looked like a bloated veal calf.)

How did you find somewhere to live?

Our location was determined by my wife's job; she's a Gymnasium teacher (and a fantastic one at that), and she landed a job at a school in Hannover. Finding an apartment in any German city can be stressful, and we were prepared to hire a broker if necessary. Luckily, we knew a friend of a friend in Hannover, so we were able to figure out the kind of neighborhood we wanted and what we could afford. But finding an apartment is rarely a pleasant experience, and no matter the country, moving sucks...

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