Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Photos of Arles, France

We've been in Arles, France visiting friends for the past couple of days. Rather than give an extensive post, I'll just share some photos (plus, our flat in Paris has been robbed while we're here, so I'm not terribly keen on writing today).

Arles has a rich, rich Roman history. I'd write more, but as mentioned ...

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Exterior of the Roman Arles Amphitheatre

Monday, July 29, 2013

Want to move abroad? Trace your family history

Is he the key to you moving abroad?
Public domain photo
I've regularly spoken with people who say "I would love to move abroad", but they've done absolutely nothing to make this happen. While there's a big difference between talking and doing, it's an easy transition to make. For every would-be expat who isn't sure how how to move abroad, there are several steps I recommend them to get started:
  1. Get your passport.
  2. Read Why you'll say "no" to moving abroad.
  3. Read the Start Here post to figure out your next moves.
Now I have to add a fourth item to that list: research your family tree.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ugly American

Image of American tourist, wearing plaid swim trunks and a sombrero, smoking a cigar and carrying a liquor bottle in each hand.
"The Ugly American"
American tourist in 1950's Batista-era Cuba
I'm sure that you've heard the "ugly American" stereotype before. It's prominent enough that it has its own Wikipedia page. Booming voices, plaid Bermuda shorts, mocking the locals. In fact, I've witnessed this abroad (down to the Bermuda shorts) and people are more likely to remember Americans who stand out like that. I still vividly remember standing in line at a store in Amsterdam and having a pair of American women yelling at a cashier because the women were mad that they had to weigh their own vegetables. Sadly, the "ugly American" stereotype can apply to expats as easily as tourists.

Exceptions like those yelling women aside, the stereotype is not only a bit unfair, but on those occasions that it is fair, it's not always entirely the American's fault. The US is a rather insular culture. It's expensive to see other cultures firsthand so we don't get this experience except by television or movies — and no, watching every episode of Monty Python or Dr. Who doesn't count. And it's not entirely the US media's fault, either. Strange things (other cultures) are challenging and don't drive as much revenue to the profit-maximizing entertainment industry.

So, relative to other countries, you have a rich, isolated culture whose people are often completely unprepared for the outside world, right? Well, not exactly.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Grab Bag of Expat Related News

Image of Buddhist Monks at the Reflecting Pool of Angkor Wat temple
Angkor Wat
Photo CC by Sam Garza 
There's a building going up near us. They workers have torn down an old, crumbling building and they're putting up a new, shiny building. And cutting a cable to our building along the way. One of these things is not nice.

So for the past couple of weeks, I've been limping along with little to no internet service. It's unclear who actually owned the cable that was cut, but our (former) internet provider, free.fr, insists that our service is working fine and no, they have no record of a repair request from us. In fact, our entire building is almost completely without phone, television, or Internet access as those services tend to be bundled together and there's a lovely note on the front door saying "please be patient, no one knows what's going on, no one is sending repair people and please keep hassling your ISPs."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Buying A Second Passport

Over at avaaz.org, there's a charmingly naïve online petition for the UN to start issuing a "globally recognized world passport". It claims it needs a million signatures and as of this writing, it has a whopping 310 of them. I'm not sure what impact anyone thinks such a petition would have. It's not just that governments would ignore the idea: citizens of most countries wouldn't want that passport if it acted as a real passport and allowed the holder to live and work in the country (in this case, the world) that issued it. Can you imagine how many major country's social services would collapse under the weight of unlimited immigration?

As it turns out, there are plenty of "second passports" schemes out there.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Our trip to La Rochelle in Photos

The waterfront at La Rochelle
Click on any photo for a larger version.

Last weekend my wife, daughter and myself visited La Rochelle, on the West coast of France, with a sea port opening to the Bay of Biscay. We might move here. We're considering moving outside of Paris, but we've decided to stay in the country this time (Malta, Belgium, or the UK were our most likely destinations). The village is absolutely gorgeous and prices are much more reasonable than Paris. Since we've started a company that, amongst other things, does international IT recruitment, we find ourselves in the luxurious position of being able to move.