Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Dream Destinations: Tuscany

Every Wednesday (except last Wednesday), in honor of Hump Day I will pick a sexy destination for a little abroad inspiration.

New Zealand kicked off the series. Please read the comments as one expat had some very interesting things to say about her time there. It’s not all Kiwis and rainbows, apparently.

This post is inspired by an episode of International Househunters. I watched as two fifty year old women sold off all their possessions to open up a bed and breakfast and live La Dolce Vita in the rolling, impossibly green hills of Tuscany.

A wave of  jealousy almost knocked me off my feet as I watched these two friends sip red wine from a stone porch that must have been at least 300 years old.

Ahhh. Tuscany. I could live there. Or could I? Honestly, I have heard from multiple expats that Italy is a difficult place to live. And they don’t eat nearly as much pasta as we assume. But it’s fun to dream about, so here we go.

Living Abroad: Tuscany

tuscany living abroad expat italy

Hello gorgeous!

michelangelos david living in tuscany moving to tuscany italy expat

abroad tuscany expat blog

Pros:

It’s Italy. Endless wine. Beautiful sunsets. Italian men. The opportunity to learn another language. No needing to get a tourist visa (30 days or less). It’s the birthplace of Italian renaissance – a great place to have your own life renaissance.

Cons:

Italian men. A language barrier. You might will have trouble finding work. You’ll get frustrated when everyone is livin’ La Dolce Vita and you want them to work on your house or process some paperwork.

I would have a solid plan for funding your lifestyle or a lump of gold.

Everyone thinks when they move abroad, they’ll just work in a vineyard or a bar until they figure it out. Well, even low-paying jobs go to locals who speak the language fluently. Do not get sucked into the romance of it. Picture yourself on an outdoor terrace, alone, sobbing because you haven’t spoken to anyone but your dog in days, and sleeping under a roof leak because your apartment is a million years old.

Don’t let the cons stop you though. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. You have to go into it ready for the struggle, ready to learn that language, ready to meet Italians. Just be willing to try and adapt. Expect good days and bad days.

Expat already there: Living with abroad

A forum for you: Expat Forum


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Sexy Dream Destinations: New Zealand

Every Wednesday, in honor of hump day, I will post a sexy dream destination. Drool over it. Or quit your job, turn off International House Hunters, put the lawn furniture, the couch, maybe your car in storage and just GO. This week’s destination is New Zealand. 

New Zealand In Photos:

newzealandphotos, live abroad in new zealand, mt cook

Look – no Walmart.

beach newzealand live in newzealand emigrate new zealand

Might even be a nude beach

New Zealand: Land of the Long White Cloud. How poetic is that?

Emigrating to New Zealand

The Pros:

It has a mild maritime climate. Kiwis speak English. The economy is pretty stable. If we rounded up all the other countries and put them in a beauty contest, New Zealand would likely come in first. The island country is home to a lot of unusual wildlife and some rad tattoos.

It’s so far from your home country and so different, you’ll earn major nomad street cred. It’s also relatively safe, that is, unless you plan to get lost while hiking.

The Cons:

At the time I am writing this blog post, it’s 10:51 am PST Wednesday here and 5:48 am on Thursday there. Communicating with your family while abroad can be difficult because of long distance charges and time zones. I envision a lot of accidental wake up calls. Get SKYPE and force your whole family to get it too. Getting a phone in Canada was difficult because I had no Canadian credit and I didn’t understand contract terms in French. These challenges tend to magnify by time zone.

Plus, even though it’s super cool, your chance of drawing visitors decreases by how long it takes to get from here to there. New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, so you’ll have to learn that (please don’t start practicing in the US).

And then there’s your mom’s reaction:

Mom: “New Zealand? Why on Earth? Aren’t there big snakes there? In the outback? What if you get attacked by a kangeroo?”

You: No, that’s Australia. I mean yes, they have snakes but not kangaroos, I mean maybe they have kangaroos too, but they’re more known for their birds and there’s no outback.”

Who should do it: Getting your pet there safely would involve a difficult 6-month quarantine, not to mention the epic flight. And the kids would have to endure that flight too, so maybe it’s best for the child-, pet-, mortgage-free. Or those with older kids. The rare kind of kids who can sit still on a twenty-plus hour plane ride. For me, New Zealand would have to be a sojourn destination (2-4 months) rather than a longterm locale because I could never part with The Dog.

Visa: The US makes the Visa-Free Countries’ list  meaning you can enter New Zealand without a visitor visa and stay for three months. Stay longer and they send you to Australia (I kid, I kid).

Expat who’s already there: Read Expatexposed , a brutally honest expat group who uncovers the downside of emigrating to New Zealand. Check out some of the titles in the forums (racist kiwis? renting in Christchurch? conversation starters for kiwis?).


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Advice to the Abroad and Unemployed

job search abroad summer festival quebec

You rock. Job or no job. (Last year’s summer fest)

I am determined to say yes to most things. “YES” to moving to Seattle from Chicago, my hometown. Then YES to moving to Quebec. Then YES out of shear necessity to one-day becoming fluent in French.

Or shall I say Oui.

I find the unbeaten path, covered in brambles and I march down it – unafraid – until I look around and I am completely lost. And I can’t even try that old explorer’s trick because the sun beats down from directly above my head.

That’s kind of where I am right now.

Lost. Without a compass.

Approximately 1 year and a half ago, I gave up my copywriting job. It came with a team I adored and all these hidden benefits: happy hour and that glorious time when you can loudly declare “I SO need a drink. I’ve been BUSTING my ass.” A treasure chest of work gossip “Did you HEAR what SO-AND-SO said to SO-AND SO.” UNBELIEVABLE.

It made me feel like a big shot.

Then came my last day, approximately two weeks before The Big Move. How bad could unemployment be?

Just look a the success of theEverywhereist, a fellow Seattle blogger who travels the world with her husband. She makes a living with her blog. She travels. She writes.

Could I be that kind of awesome?

After a few months of culture shock, I hit my stride and things got good. Very good. I started every meal with a baguette and a spoonful of confiture. I went on field trips with my French class in the middle of the afternoon. Being the only experience and child-free writer in this French-speaking land, I got all the rare writing jobs. I did things like interview Larry Clark and hang out back stage with Couer de Pirate. By hang-out, I mean stare at her and get really nervous and watch a journalist with a faux hawk whip out a notebook and start asking her questions in French (bien sur!). Continue reading


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I survived the year and…

Well, if that’s not the teasiest title I could muster. So I have been living in my Quebec City wine cellar-like apartment for a year now. And I have been freelancing this whole time, which is …grand but lonely. Even though my work has brought me to a whole new level of writing (travel writing! journalism!!) , I miss having coworkers. Elwood snores and steals half of my wobbly writing chair. Super annoying. I should relegate him to his crate, but I don’t have the heart.

Yeah… I stand next to graffiti to look like a bad ass. So what?

What I learned at the one year mark:

  1. Expating ain’t easy.  I was taught to jump into the deep end and swim upwards. I do this with recipes, I did it with French, I did it with the Big Move. My husband once asked me, as I was deep in the middle of making an all-day chili: “why don’t you start with something simple, something with less than 20 ingredients?” I answered, “Because this is how you learn.” Things like navigating government offices in French can be horrifically scary but strangely rewarding. When I got my license, I danced in the parking lot. I almost cried last time I took a taxi because I was having a conversation, in French with the driver, who moved to Quebec from somewhere in Africa. We shared a moment!

Continue reading


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14 steps to being a complete asshole abroad

Castle in Helsinger, Denmark

There are two types of travel-abroad assholes: The ones who tell everyone they’re American and are disappointed when things aren’t like the good ol’ USA. Or the ones who think they belong “somewhere else” and are eager to enlighten everyone “back home” with their tales. Even though no one really gives a fuck and it’s like hearing the same story over and over again. The macaroons! The narrow streets! The lighted outdoor terraces!

Travel abroad tips:

travel abroad tips

This says slut. In Danish, it's apparently relevant to hopscotch.

1. Wear white socks, dad jeans, and bright blue running shoes.

2. Or buy a scarf and skinny jeans to blend in with the locals. Hint: it won’t happen. Your American hips look stupid in straight-legged Euro pants.

3. Develop an accent and use slang you read about on the interwebs. Correct everyone from “back home” on their pronunciation. People love being corrected.

It’s Par-i, not Paris! 

4. Complain about everything. Complain about not getting the check right away. Complain about tiny rooms and tiny portion sizes. Complain about having to walk everywhere. Complain complain complain. Continue reading


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Living,growing, and still not a snob

Quebec City, Expat, Chateau Frontenac

C'est moi

Listening to study abroad stories is like hearing about someone else’s weird dream: it’s a snooze fest. It also incites extreme jealous in the poor bastards confined to life in the states.

I firmly decided that I would never become one of those people.

“In (insert country here), the bakeries are just so much better.” 

“They have (insert random food item here) in (insert country here)…”

“The government is soooo much better in (insert country here).” 

And yeah, please don’t tell me because I live in Canada and not somewhere in Europe that I’m not “abroad.” I will remind you, while I snarl that the US and Canada aren’t the same and that Quebec is unlike everywhere else in the country.

Before taking the leap, I felt worn out and old. Eight months in and the creases beneath my eyes have disappeared, I lost about 10 pounds, and I can now get by in French conversation. I feel better somehow – maybe it’s because I’ve fallen off the corporate wheel and started getting a regular dose of exercise and brain activity.

What’s changed the most? I stopped caring. I stopped feeling competitive and started writing, for realz. My new friends span all ages and all countries, from a 70-something-woman Falconer to a 17-year-old Venezuelan. They inspire me to get up and get movin’


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What to do When the Honeymoon is Over

I found out recently that like grief, there are expatriate stages. They are: honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment, and enthusiasm.

winter carnival quebec city winter carnaval snow sculpture

Waking up to realize: oh wait, I live here. (Winter Carnival, Quebec)

 

“Within a month or so of arrival, the honeymoon phase ends and expatriates quickly begin to comprehend the magnitude of the barriers they face to doing their jobs. They discover that methods used successfully over their entire careers are either worthless or even destructive in another cultural environment. The result is expatriates who are severely emotionally distressed and ineffective at their jobs.”

I don’t know what happened yesterday but I think my honeymoon with Quebec ended quite swiftly and even shockingly. Sure, it’s not a developing nation and it’s not even THAT far from my hometown of Chicago. But it’s a completely different country with a different language and a winter that lasts forever. Continue reading