India is vast and a fast developing country in South Asia. The vast size means that it has a varied climate ranging from tropical to temperate however, generally speaking, the climate is tropical. For a visiting expat or tourist the country holds a lot promise be it in terms of beautiful locales like the mountains of Kashmir, the Thar Desert in the west or the beaches in the south or the buzzing business and IT hub like Mumbai and Bangalore. [Read more...]
I always thought culture shock was something invented by anthropologists with too much time on their hands until I moved to Japan. Then, I discovered quickly that it is definitely real, and it will mess with your mind completely. Even though I was so gung-ho about moving to Japan and I had a solid support network of friends and family, it still freaked me out. [Read more...]
Last year, my close friend, Scott Bird, and I finally took the leap out of our steady nine-to-five careers into entrepreneurship after years of only talking about starting a business. The company we started, Bungolow, features private flash sales for high-end Latin American hotel bookings. We founded the company in July 2011 and launched the beta version of our website four months later. [Read more...]
While learning the language of your host country crosses the mind of most expats at least once during their time on the ground, many foreigners continue to “opt out” because of a variety of factors. Maybe they feel uncomfortable challenging themselves with something new and don’t want to go outside of their comfort zone. Perhaps they work in an English-speaking environment so they think they don’t “need” the language skills. You can shop at the supermarket in English by merely putting things in a cart and then reading the numbers off when the cashier rings them up, so many people think language isn’t a necessity in that regard. You can also point to the picture on the menu when you aren’t sure of what something is called in the local dialect. Not to mention, when all of your friends speak English, or your community and/or work environment is an expat community of English speakers, it tends to lead to insulation where you are living in an isolated bubble of expats who never really blend into the native environment. [Read more...]
What comes to your mind when you think of Pakistan? A country held hostage by a few hundred extremists? Well, there is more than bombings and terror plots from Pakistan. It is home to 180 million people who are resilient enough to extract good from the worst. A few thousand diehard expatriates also call it home.
Who are they? To make things clear, they are not CIA contractors. They are not from the diplomatic corps either. They are simply normal, law-abiding citizens like you and me. They are Pakistanis! [Read more...]
Every culture has their own superstitions, and it’s always a good idea to be aware of them before embarking on an extended stay in a foreign country – lest you unknowingly violate a centuries-old taboo. Korean superstitions may strike Westerners as being distinctly odd, but when it comes down to it, they’re no stranger than our fear of black cats, avoidance of sidewalk cracks, and tendency to knock on wood. However, many Koreans take their superstitions a bit more seriously than most – “fan death”, arguably the country’s most infamous urban legend, can be found listed on several death certificates issued in South Korea. In fact, many Korean superstitions are somewhat morbid, with four of the five on this list being allegedly fatal – and the other causing life-long physical suffering. So, here are five prominent Korean superstitions to be mindful of before coming to The Land of the Morning Calm.
‘Gaijin complex’ is a term used to describe the general discomfort many Japanese feel toward foreign human beings (gaijin means foreigner). It’s the old guy who’s about to sit next to you on the train and then gets a look at you and thinks better of it. It’s the lady who trembles while she rings up your coffee and can’t understand your simple order even though you said it in perfect Japanese. It’s the teachers at the high school where you work who pretend you don’t exist. [Read more...]
The growth of the vegetarian movement is astonishing. Twenty years ago, the word was virtually unknown, so when it was announced you were vegetarian, the barrage of questions seemed unending… foreign? Not any longer. Strange how much things change in a short 20 years. [Read more...]
Finland. The frozen wasteland of the north nestled between Russia and Sweden. Home to Santa Claus and reindeer and the withdrawn, socially reclusive, silent Finns.
That’s the general misconception about Finland. Yes, it’s a Nordic country rubbing shoulders with Sweden and Russia, and Santa Claus does in fact have an entire village dedicated to him in the Arctic circle city of Rovaniemi complete with a herd of reindeer. But, though the Finns may come across reserved at first, give them a shot or two (more like ten) of kossu (the colloquial term for the Finnish vodka Koskenkorva) and you’ll see a whole other side to these people. [Read more...]
Moving to Japan was the most utterly confusing experience of my life. Everything was too small and the people didn’t welcome me with open arms like I thought they would. All my efforts at studying Japanese were worthless when I encountered the real language that was spoken daily by human beings. I was here but I felt distinctly outside of everything with no way in.