Expatria Monthly: 16 May – 14 June 2015

Luke 15:21-24 – The Parable of the Lost Son

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

I know I haven’t been around for a while but I assure you on my prodigal travels I have squandered great wealth in exchange for a great wealth of expatriate knowledge.

I am now returned, like the prodigal son, here to dispense it in digestable monthly chunks.

Downsizing of Jet Airways cost more expat pilots work

The Hindu and the Times of India report of Jet Airways ‘cost-cuttng measures’ that has led to the premature contract termination of 50 expat pilots.

The trend for rationalisation proves global as even high-growth India feels the need to severe ties with high earning expat professionals.

Jet are reportedly looking to move away from costly long haul flights to the budget and redeye flights that have sustained European and American airlines.

The Hindu: http://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/jet-airways-sacks-50-expat-pilots/article7271534.ece

The Times of India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Jet-terminates-contracts-of-50-expat-pilots/articleshow/47507946.cms

Greenback Expat Tax Services decrees ‘new survey finds US expat voting, could impact 2016 Presidential Election’

New findings state that almost two-thirds of American expats vote in presidential elections stirred to action as the majority believe they are not well-represented in U.S. government.

Of the 7.6m Americans abroad FATCA and tax concerns provide the chorus to the expat rallying cry. Many feel that apathetic towards native politics, neutralised by their foreign setting, sometimes deliberately, sometimes not.

This is often an ‘all-smoke-and-no-fire’ situation. UK expats barely vote although commentators tried predicting them being the inertia for the election’s swing – it didn’t. However, US expats have to pay homeward bound tax and I imagine this fills a great deal of ballot papers.


Local vs. International schools in China

The ever-informed writers and bloggers of the Wall Street Journal’s Expat corner have illuminated the state of education for expats in Shanghai.

Rashmi Dalai talks of the now permeable barriers between Eastern and Western students in local and international schools.

Dalai makes conversation with Brian Horvath, of the Hongqiao International School, who sings the positivity of this new trend, the blurring of eastern and western education philosophies:

‘The Chinese governement is allowing the expats to help build and nurture the education system.’

‘Speaking in generalities, what you’re seeing is in places like art, Asian kids tend to focus on the technical skills while Western kids tend to focus on self-expression. Now they’re working together…Everybody is learning from each other.’

WSJ Expat: http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/05/18/the-expat-education-dilemma-local-vs-international-schools/

Australian Tech industry no longer on walkabout

Australian Press have highlighted that the Tech platform of Australia and its global interconnectivity means less Australians are needing to expatriate to prosper in the American start-up market.

Brett Adam of Zendesk was spoke of the growing competivity of the Australian market which was once likened to ‘tumbleweeds blowing through an empty ghost town.’

And now the Australian Financial Review is suggesting that the offer of Premium Visas, that have already lured Chinese expats, will entice high-earning Americans to the lifestyle superpower’s shores.

AFR: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/national/australia-hunts-wealthy-silicon-valley-americans-with-premium-visa-20150713-gib1lp

The Age: http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/business-it/hightech-scene-comes-of-age-and-brings-expats-home-20150601-ghdawi.html

Expatria News: 23-30 April

Photographer captures the British immigrant

Rosie Milne of The Telegraph talked to photographer Charlie Clift.

His series entitled ‘Brits Abroad’ shows the human side of international movement – ‘forget the statistics on immigration, and remember that each immigrant, or expat, is unique.’ On his photography tour of Spain, Clift commented on ‘how important retaining national identity was for the majority of expats.’

Clift’s work will be coming to London’s Twelve Star Gallery in Europe House soon.

Charlie Clift – www.charliecliftphotography.com

Telegraph – http://bit.ly/1PtWsie

A different lens captures a different side of immigration

Juan Medina captures the horrors of the Mediterranean as immigrants embark on the most dangerous of crossings in an attempt to reach the European continent.

Images are disturbing, however, they tell a necessary truth as Europe is plunged into crisis regarding the matter.

BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32433547

Singapore-based expats go native with education

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, more expat students are enrolling in local schools rather than the traditional international school system.

‘Avoiding the expat ‘bubble’’ is a key motive for families looking for their children to embrace local culture. Beyond this cost plays a massive factor with international schools costing far more than the state provided.

Wall Street Journal – http://on.wsj.com/1bXsODR

International Students in their own words

This wouldn’t be online content if it did not start with reference to a ‘Top Ten’ list.
The New School Free Press constructed ten steps to studying abroad – all valid tips based on one a shred of common sense, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail.’
A simple rule but necessarily reinforced. Isolation is common among international students, brought about by a lack of communication or even the means to communicate, preventing international students from feeling at ‘home’ abroad.
But therein lies the catch. you aren’t at home. You’ve entered abstraction, purposefully, estranging yourself, by choice, or perhaps not your choice.


Is studying abroad an experience, a means in itself, or for the purpose of future employment, a means to an end?

West and East answers can vary. Chinese and Indian students commonly use international study as a way to receive a premium education as well as versing themselves in globalised culture. Whereas, we associate European and American students with the ‘gap year’ phenomenon; ‘voluntourists’ looking for cultural diversification and enrichment.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so I’ve heard, I mean I’ve never tried or even youtubed it but my point is international students like all expatriates embark on their own journey. So, I thought instead of compiling a generic and didactic ten-stepper, I’d ask three international students from the UK to explain themselves!


James Fernandez in Japan. Manchester University undergraduate James talks of the great opportunities studying abroad can offer – learning a new language and embracing a new culture.
‘For one year, I was studying at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, which is a language university just west of Tokyo. I liked that my university was Foreign Studies focused, which meant that the Japanese students there were all studying a foreign language so they were always interested in meeting new foreigners like myself.

If I’m to be honest, before I left for Japan, my Japanese language skills were still not that great, probably only enough for daily conversation. But whilst I was actually living in Japan, I was in such a stimulating and rewarding environment to learn and speak the language that my language skills improved a lot. I was so motivated studying Japanese in Japan as opposed to a classroom in Manchester as the more I could speak the language, the more enjoyable it was to meet people and get around the city. Not only did I work hard in improving my Japanese, but I also took advantage of every opportunity that I could. Aside from studying, I was also able to work in a small cafe by Shibuya Crossing. For those of you who have not been to Japan, Shibuya Crossing is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It is an amazing sight, seeing thousands of people swarming across the road with the neon lights and screens towering over. At this cafe, I worked as a waiter and spoke only Japanese. Because none of the staff or customers spoke any english, at first when I started it was really difficult to make myself understood. Having not worked in a restaurant or the catering industry before, everything was new to me. I had to learn all basic catering skills; taking orders, carrying plates, how to make cocktails, coffees and desserts…but, all in Japanese.

Now, if you’re familiar with the Japanese language, I also had to accustom myself to a more formal and new way of speaking which is only used towards people you respect, such as customers. Once I got to grips with this, my language started improving and the job was so fun. Because I was a foreigner working there, a lot of customers and even my colleagues were really interested in England and would often take me out drinking, which usually ended up being 6-hour, all-you-can-drink, karaoke sessions.’


Tabitha Taylor in Budapest. Tab studies at the Central European University and I asked her, ‘What is it like being an international student?’
In short, it’s weird. That’s a word I use for pretty much everything though, a thing I noticed when I began to be surrounded by non-native English speakers and Americans. They make fun of my accent ‘cos I sound like I’m “in a movie” or something. But I quite like it since they all tell me I have beautiful English and they wished their accent was like mine. Except the Americans who never cease to be amazed at my pronunciation of words like ‘body’, ‘beer’ and ‘philosophy’ (think about it). That last one happens to be one I say quite often given that that’s what I study. ‘Why did you come to Budapest to study philosophy?’ they ask me. Well, why not? It’s an adventure! Philosophy isn’t really in the world, at least not the sort I do, so it doesn’t matter where you study it really. Plus, what better way is there to live in a foreign place? You immediately slot in, you feel you have a purpose and university makes it very easy to live.

But then, I don’t really live in Budapest do I? I live at the university, in the university bubble, speaking English to everyone and telling people I really live in London at my parents’ house. One has to make an effort to penetrate the local scene, especially in a place like Budapest, which is filled with international students, tourists and worst of all stag dos and hen parties (don’t want to get lumped in with them). And when you don’t speak the language it’s particularly tricky. But you find your feet and you learn how to act like a local and say the right things to people in shops and bars and look sufficiently grumpy and like you’ve seen it all before. And then that magical moment comes when a tourist asks you for directions! Not only have they asked you, but you know exactly where to tell them and you recommend ‘the bakery on the way where you must try the pogácsa, it’s the best in Budapest’. And for a little while you feel at home…

Until the bar staff take one look at you and ask, “what can I get you?”


Amy Lees lived in Italy during her time completing a Modern Languages degree at the University of Bristol:
Of course I discovered all of the stereotypes are true. Yes, the bureaucracy in Italy is horrendously frustrating and no, there is absolutely no queuing etiquette whatsoever. Zebra crossings may as well not exist and there is no chance of getting to a shop on a Sunday. 80% of conversation revolves around food and the other 20% football. At the school I taught in, the teachers would smoke in the stairwells despite new laws forbidding it… because the kids were doing it so why shouldn’t they? Flawless logic. I also got to see the darker side to Italy; the consequences of an aging population, tension between natives and immigrants, a lack of jobs and an unstable economy. During weak moments I wished I could just pop into the pub for a consolatory pint, or at least get my hands on some Yorkshire Tea teabags. Not very Italian, though. Living as a local was crucial for me, and it fed my fascination for my town’s little quirks, its dialect, its traditions and its history.

But Italy is not a place you get used to quickly. Every cappuccino I drank was as astoundingly sublime as the first and the weight of Italy’s history was tangible, no matter how many times I’d wandered through the same streets and the fresh, green countryside and imposing architecture still mind-blowingly beautiful and, beyond this, the people who surprised me constantly with their endless supply of warmth, enthusiasm and affection.

Experiences felt abroad are diverse, so is the politics and policy that comes with it. Our next article will look at the contrasting perspectives nations take on sending out and welcoming in international students, from British austerity to Canadian pragmatism.
The Expat Survey wishes to invite international students to contribute to our research programme, whether you are conscious of it, you are expats or immigrants too and your insights prove invaluable.

William Purbrick

Sources: New School Free Press, The Guardian.

Expatria News: 15-22 April 2015

A General Election looms but will the expat vote?

7 May and Britons will pour into the polling stations, from Land’s End to Shetland and the Orkneys…from Benidorm to Melbourne…

But will expats be queueing up in their droves? The BBC estimates of the 5m Brits abroad only 16,000 are registered – around 3%.

Parties now circle such voting potential like vultures and The Telegraph has picked out what parties have to offer the Brit abroad. We will be investigating in our own article shortly.

BBC – http://bbc.in/1DAoMqL

The Telegraph – http://bit.ly/1yS05uo

‘7 in 10 inquiries about mortgages in UK from British expats’ reports Telegraph

The Telegraph have attributed this surge to a strong dollar that is playing in favour of the Briton overseas.

While the capital’s housing crises prolongs it would seem expats are looking for investment or resettlement; the lucrative British buy-to-let market appetising to internationally based Brits.

The Telegraph – http://bit.ly/1DPUh4M

An international University in the Gulf?

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, would be the site for the privately backed university. Studies have highlighted that Saudi Arabia is acting as an expat brain drain, Arab News reporting that ‘at least 300,000 expat children leave the Kingdom every year for higher education.’

A step forward? Whose to say at this point, what is clear is that the Middle East’s pledge to encourage Western participation and investment remains.

Arab News – http://bit.ly/1cZAIwF

Expatria Three: International Students

Let’s catch up shall we?


So we’ve got a quarter billion living abroad and it’s comprised of the most diverse population imaginable. Most recently we’ve sussed that, on the whole, ‘the kid’s are alright’, but we could do with raising awareness about unaccompanied young immigrants, as shown in the border-crises that couples North and Central America, which led President Obama to emergency action in November of last year.


Where to next? Well, this Expatria series now looks to international students, the composition of a growing population in size and significance, showing that cross-cultural exchange is taking place at younger and younger ages and, interestingly, extracted from family ties – living as individuals.


Fledgling student expatriates, transient and intrepid but potential keyholders of the near future’s gates? (Probably, more likely a swipe-card for the future’s glass panelled revolving door, but let’s not digress on anachronistic metaphors, we’ll be here all day, or last year, or…) Understanding, international study will have us sprawl over four articles, in which I will play statistician, witness and judge.


So, I suppose the first step is ascertaining the makeup of this population, as John Lewis Gaddis said,

‘Finding one’s way through unfamiliar terrain generally requires a map of sort. Cartography, like cognition itself, is a necessary simplification that allows us to see where we are and where we may be going.’

The global mapping of international students is a complex web of in-and-out, east-to-west, west-east and west-west migration. Foreign students have proven the most allusive catch so far, however, thanks to the statisticians of UNESCO and University World News and this infographic from Movehub, I think I’ve just about dragged them home from their global barcrawl.

Courtesy of Movehub
Courtesy of Movehub

There are around five million international students, growing by 10% each year since 2000. Students have been surging out of China and India and importing into the halls and libraries of American and British universities; the U.S. have reported a seventy per cent increase in foreign students in the last fifteen years. This has made the U.S. the most common dorm for the international and academic wanderer with 886,052 studying abroad in the U.S. in 2013-14.


University World News reported that between 2013-2014 there was an 8% growth in international students, and that 73% of that growth can be accounted for by China and Saudi Arabia. In 2011, Chinese foreign students accounted for eight out of ten international students in Australia and worldwide represented one-sixth of all outbound students.


Further interactive statistical information can be found through the UNESCO site:



Students internationalised younger than ever before.

Globally-based students are not only prominent in tertiary education, PIE News reported in 2014 that there are 7,200 International Schools and 3.7m students studying in English. Estimates reckon that in ten years there will be 11,000 international schools and near double the amount of students studying in English.


Nicholas Brummitt, Chairman of the ISC (Independent Schools Council), ‘today there is a massive demand for English-speaking education all over the world.’ This ‘massive demand’ is supplied by the burgeoning middle class of Jim O’Neill’s BRIC behemoths, India and China, and the dynamic between east-west movement will be discussed further in the third section of this segment – a case study of studying in America.


‘Oh East is East, West is West, and never the twain shall meet.’ – Rudyard Kipling

The conflation of debates regarding international students and immigration, the current hot-coal topic of the west, has entered political discourse in America:

‘International education is crucial to building relationships between people and communities in the United States and around the world’ said Evan M. Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State and she elaborated on her global vision, ‘it is through these relationships that together we can solve global challengers like climate change, the spread of pandemic, disease, and combating violent extremism.’

An optimistic vision of some plausibility. Growing numbers of students are on charitably-caused gap years and becoming globally-based whistleblowers for necessary human and natural causes. However, media cynicism has portrayed this altruism as thinly-veiled, and perhaps unbeknownst, narcissism. ‘Voluntourism’ has become big business and, in spite of best intentions, better for a facebook picture than a community’s development.

It is interesting how, Ryan can see international students as future global peacemakers to an older generation’s problems. To take a lesson from history – key figures of the Indian Independence movement, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose, were educated at Oxbridge and both are claimed to have been ‘radicalised’ by this exposure to western education. These men overcame a global challenge, were followed by a nation, but it cannot be said that it did not involve some ‘violent extremism’ – Bose famously allying himself with Nazi Germany.

This is in no way an attempt to condemn studying abroad. It is a bizarre yet wonderful paradox that ‘Oxasians’ were radicalised in the nation that repressed them. It is, however, a critique of Ryan’s gleeful vision of a world brought together by international tertiary study.  How will new global conflicts, such as the rise of ISIL, affect Ryan’s ever-so-American wishful sentiment? Recent news stories have documented Western students fleeing to the East to join an extremist cause, a fact that doesn’t exactly prove the movement of students is settling any age-old quarrels.

However, my cynicism can’t hide the true triumphs of individuals such as Nigerian seventeen year old Harold Ekeh, a student accepted to all eight Ivy League Colleges. An astonishing achievement for an exceptional talent. International students live idiosyncratic lives as expats, they choose to carve their own path and work hard for it, Ekeh is an example of this, and the next element of this series will explore the stories of three international students in their own words.

Sources: This Is Africa, The Guardian, News Republic, The PIE News, CNBC, Time, Wikipedia, India Today, BBC, University World News, UNESCO.