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Articles About Expat Living Abroad (Page 3)

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This entry is part 5 of 4 in the series Atlantic Canada


Canada will always be home.

Lately I’ve noticed some of my fellow expat bloggers writing about confusion over their sense of Home. Home becomes a difficult thing to define when you live abroad, especially if you’ve had more than one expat assignment. Expats often feel caught between two (or more worlds) but never completely a part of either of them.

Way back in 2005, I wrote a post about my own struggles to define home.  Sinec then, I’ve come to realise being caught between cultures is not all bad. In fact, it can be really nice to experience a feeling of home-coming in so many different places.

I’ve been thinking about the word ‘home’ this week because I am going ‘home’ — home to Canada for a holiday.

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Confused about language?

This second post in my Flashback series looks at the pitfalls of being an English speaker in Belgium. When I first wrote it, we were living in Flanders and struggling to learn Flemish. Five years later, I still don’t speak Flemish. In fact, since we moved to Brussels, the little bit of Dutch I had picked up has totally lapsed.

It is very easy to be lazy about language in Brussels, as so many people speak English these days; And it’s not just because of all of the expats in the city. Often, the common language among French and Flemish Belgians in English. There is more and more English popping up on signs and used in slogans. More websites are defaulting to English and English menus are more commonly available. Despite this, I still think it’s important to try and speak the local language. My French, although far from perfect is much better now that I use it frequently in Brussels. There’s still part of me that feels I should learn Dutch, even though I don’t have occasion to use it.

As I suggested when I wrote this post, I still can’t imagine how much more difficult it is to travel as a non-English speaker.

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Expat life can leave you feeling lost.

Recently I’ve been getting quite a few comments and emails from new expats in Belgium who are struggling with adjusting to life here. Expats in Belgium tend to be pretty transient; with terms of 2-3 years before moving on to a new posting. I wanted to find a way to answer some of these common issues and also demonstrate how we all go through rough patches in the beginning.

For that reason, I’ve decided to repost some of my older CheeseWeb posts as a Flashback series. Because there are over 500 posts on CheeseWeb now (wow! Did I really write all of that?) many of the old posts get buried and lost to the internet ether. I’ll be re-posting these with the original comments section, but adding my updated thoughts.

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Don’t leave me behind

People are always surprised when we tell them our cats are Canadian.

“You brought three cats to Belgium, all the way from Canada,” they exclaim. Well, actually it was four cats and our Saint Bernard joined us three months later, but yes. Our pets are all from Canada.

It surprises me that they are surprised. We wouldn’t dream of moving without our pets. They are an important part of our family. When we adopted them it was for life.

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Moving forward or standing still?

In another couple of weeks, it will be April, 2010. This will mark the fifth anniversary of our expat life in Europe. I can’t help but feel introspective about this milestone.

In fact, I never really intended to have a five year anniversary of life in Belgium. Our plan was always to try and move on to a new location after three years or so. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

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After a year of being away from Canada I’m finding being ‘home’ strange – good, but strange. One thing has really become clear to me: Living this expat life has changed me, even more than I expected it to. It has changed how I view the world. It has changed...
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While we all know there’s no real cure for the common cold, it seems that everyone has a tried and true recipe for a speedy recovery. Even if our cures are only psychosomatic, there are definitely things we turn to, to make us feel better. Often these are the same...
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These days you can find a blog written by anyone from Albinos to Zookeepers. The blogesphere is expanding at an amazing rate. One of the fastest growing facets of this ever increasing space is Expat Blogging. It seems that Expats have stories to tell to the world and many of...
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I've written frequently about the food in Belgium: the abundance of fresh produce, the heavenly bakeries on every corner and the restaurants that can transport your taste buds around the globe. Sometimes however, what I really want is a taste of home. Canadians have a hard time defining a national...
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