Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

The Perfect Relocation in an Ideal World

In an ideal world, there would be only perfect relocations. A world in which everything goes according to plan, nobody is running around at the last minute all sweaty with stress, and the children are well behaved on every flight and breeze through connecting airports. In this ideal world, here's what a perfect relocation might look like: In a perfect relocation, there is plenty of time to prepare, find renters/buyers for your current house, sell off unwanted possessions, and close your door one final time without a hint of sadness. In a perfect relocation, you have familiarized yourself with the local language and have language classes lined up to help ease your family into society upon arrival. In a perfect relocation, you get one last visit with all of your family members, and your friends throw you an amazing farewell party complete with meaningful gifts and inside jokes. In a perfect relocation, these same friends and family members promise to keep in touch and they do!...
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Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

There is a bold freedom when you move as a single person. The highway is open, and you are free to take any exit. Your destiny is unchartered, and the future is relatively carefree. In contrast, when you move your family, you need to be slightly more responsible. Those things that aren't priorities as a young single person are all of a sudden really important like researching daycares, schools, insurance, work visas, health care options, retirement plans—all of those issues become imminently important when coordinating a massive move as a parent. When we moved to Sweden, we fumbled around a bit and relied heavily on my husband's company to handle the logistics—that was a mistake. The woman organizing our relocation stopped answering our emails as soon as we set foot into the country. We were on our own and had not conducted any research prior to our rushed relocation—rookie mistake. Learning via trial by fire is never my preferred method, but it...
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5 Tips for the Expecting Expat

5 Tips for the Expecting Expat

I excitedly clicked on the article, "5 Tips for the Expectant Expat" expecting to find an article about being pregnant abroad. Instead, the article contained five tips for preparing for expatriation. Clearly, I have pregnancy on my brain 24/7. The idea of expecting expats gave me the idea to jot down some of my own tips beyond my favorite, "Use your belly as a table for convenient spill-free eating." Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments to share the wealth of knowledge that we have learned from our own journeys. 1. Import baby culture that is meaningful to you If you live in a country with completely different baby culture than the one you hail from, you may feel like your pregnancy journey is lacking in some way. For example, in Sweden, it is not customary to have a baby shower whereas, in the US, every pregnancy milestone is an excuse for a party—the pregnancy reveal, the gender reveal, the name reveal, and...
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Knocked Up in Germany—Insider Tips From Two American Women

Knocked Up in Germany—Insider Tips From Two American Women

  Upon first arrival, many expat women must navigate a foreign medical system that may be remarkably different from the healthcare system back “home.” Germany has a reputation for having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, providing its residents with comprehensive health insurance coverage.   Approximately 85% of the population is part of the public health insurance while the rest have private health insurance. In 2007, health insurance reform required everyone to have coverage for at least hospital and outpatient medical treatment. This mandatory insurance also includes coverage for pregnancy and certain medical check-ups.   Pregnant women in Germany receive three mandatory ultrasounds: One scan weeks 9-12, another during weeks 19-22, and a final scan during weeks 29-32. All scan results are entered into your Mutterpass, a booklet documenting your health statistics.  But aside from the typical Google search results, what else does a pregnant expat in Germany need to know?   I asked two American women currently living in Germany, Michele Landreman-Löschner, and Maureen...
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5 Reasons to Not Learn the Local Language

5 Reasons to Not Learn the Local Language

We all know the numerous benefits to speaking the local language—being able to clearly communicate your needs and wants is kind of a priority in your daily expat life, no? However, there are some benefits, albeit minor ones, to not knowing the local language. Yeah sure, you'll miss out on the countless benefits of being multilingual, but this is just a fun post anyway, so let's roll with it. 1. Foreign languages sound like white noise White noise is so calming. We spent $35 on a white noise lamb sleep machine for our son when he was an infant. When you don't understand the local language, your entire world becomes blanketed with this white noise effect. It gives your brain a rest from trying to listen to, process, and understand all of the language around you when you just give up. It is shocking to realize just how much unknown language you can grow accustomed to tuning out. When I re-immersed myself back...
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Travel Like A Pro With Your Child

Travel Like A Pro With Your Child

  The holiday season is soon approaching and living abroad often means lots of travel! Traveling with kids can often be a stressful event for parents but, here are some travel tips to make the whole trip fun for the family. 1) Plan, plan, plan. If you didn't plan trips before having kids, it's time for that to change. Having a plan reduces the headache of trying to figure out things on the go. 2) Have a plan for when things don't go as planned! Stock snacks, games, books, or a mobile device so there are activities if your well thought out plan becomes derailed. 3) Don't over-schedule your family. Kids (and parents!) need down time. That's the whole point of a vacation, right?? Make sure there is a slower rest day among activity filled days. A half day of board games or baking makes for great rest-day activities that include an afternoon nap too. Having a rest day will reduce crankiness for everyone! 4)...
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Why Expats Should “Go Local”

Why Expats Should “Go Local”

Moving internationally can really take the steam out of your engine. You're exhausted, overwhelmed and overcome by all of the newness around you. New language, new culture, new people, new house, new everything. It is difficult to remain focused amongst all of the NEW during those first few months. By the time the dust settles and you finally feel less overwhelmed, you might begin actually missing things from home. There is a great temptation to import your old life into your new one—one that was comfortable, familiar and most of all, not foreign in your very foreign environment. Here is why you should resist that temptation and instead, go local early. By "go local" I mean do all of the things that locals do. Learn the local language(s) (it's difficult, I know), eat the local foods, celebrate the local traditions, partake in the local culture. Immerse yourself full into your local surroundings. The sooner you do these things, the sooner you will...
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