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: UK Election fallout 8-15 May


 new government and a new set of conditions for UK expats

An end to the fifteen year rule, perhaps?

In the UK, the fifteen year rule stipulates that expats who have lived outside of the UK for fifteen or more years lose their right to vote in the general election.

Tory rule may put an end to this, according to their manifesto:

‘“We will complete the electoral register, by working to include more of the five million Britons who live abroad. We will introduce votes for life, scrapping the rule that bars British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting.”’

Liberal Democrats also aimed at its removal. Clive Goodall, chairman of the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrat, was quoted in condemnation:

“The current 15-year rule for overseas voters is an anachronism – citizens abroad can stay in touch and engage in British politics today as easily as those at home. We should bring our system in line with the rest of Europe, where 24 out of 28 countries allow their citizens abroad to keep their vote.”

Still, good news for expats.

However, a more efficient system and more encouragement to get them voting would be a better start – only 113,742 expats registered to vote out of an eligible five million and even so electoral ballot papers still failed to find far-flung brits in the run up to the election, as reported in The Telegraph.

Such a fact shames a two year-old ‘exclusive’ of the Independent that claimed millions would be wooed to vote on May 7.

Disenfranchised, disenchanted or disinterested, one thing is now clear – this prophecy did not come true.

This Tory government will decide a lot for the future of Europe-based expats too; a potential referendum would alter the living circumstances for the continentally-couched. Some of the potential outcomes are exhausted in the blogspot link below.






For more information and worthy campaigning on this topic check out Votes for Expat Brits blog (http://votes-for-expat-brits-blog.com/)

Expatria News: Understanding Culture Shock 1-7 May

Culture shock, Reverse Culture Shock and just plain ol’ shock…

Expatriate media is, by-and-large, a friendly and helpful place – guides and tips proliferate.

One ever-present topic is that of ‘culture shock’ – the challenges of assimilation, living between societies or on the edge of societies.

Joseph Shaules in The Telegraph, is the latest to offer his hand in support and his dissection of ‘culture surprise, culture stress and culture shock’ makes the issue far easier to comprehend.

The Telegraph – http://bit.ly/1E2rO8p

Reverse Culture Shock

In the Wall Street Journal, Debra Bruno highlights that repatriation can be more of an issue than expatriation. The support that the likes of Shaules provides can be lacking for expats returning to their ‘native’ culture that now feels foreign and distant.

Tina Quick identifies ‘the same sad, familiar story over and over again ‘I don’t fit in here, I don’t belong, I can’t connect with anyone.’

Amongst expat writers, ‘belonging everywhere and nowhere’ is a bittersweet malaise that informs their writing. Bruno reminds of Naomi Hattaway’s article ‘I am a Triangle’, a piece that highlights the tribulations of existing in a third culture, one not quite the first or the second.

Debra Bruno in WSJ – http://on.wsj.com/1OGkSot

Naomi Hattaway – http://bit.ly/1uBTTlg

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

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 News 7-14 March

70 year-old British expat found dead in France

Mystery surrounds the death of 70 year old expat Donald King in France. His body was found in a well in Normandy by French police and a suspect remains in custody.

King’s death raises a sad and unique matter for expats killed abroad. Such deaths prove to be more complicated cases, in their cross-border and -culture nature.

In King’s case, Interpol initially dismissed a missing person’s enquiry as they believed the expat to be travelling to visit his daughter in Australia. King’s case is an example of how ‘falling-off-the-grid’ and living the transient life abroad can obscure truth and make justice difficult to attain.


Israel through an expat’s lens

Expats frequently present places in new ways, observing difference in a way no native can. In Tel Aviv, The Financial Times found Celia Gould, wife to the UK ambassador to Israel.

Celia made a friend a lot of expats do on arrival in her new home, her camera. ‘I started to discover Israel through photography’ said Gould, who know runs a start-up, selling bespoke silk scarfs in Israel.


The Great Crate Escape

A homesick brit in Australia, attempted to return home by mailing himself back to the UK – in a wooden crate. In 1965, welsh-born Brian Robson survived a 12,900 kilometres misguided trip to Los Angeles in a bid to get back home. The fledging expat spent 92 hours nailed in the wooden box before he was discovered.


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.

Intrepid explorer and expat! Some global news of note for you! 30 March – 6 April 2015

Cameron Veitch records his expatriated life in the Pacific Islands.

Documentary maker makes a visit to the Costa del Sol

Britain’s most famed, or at least most caricatured expat, the englishman in Spain who hollers ‘hola!’, counts ‘dos cervezas’ as a GCSE and points instead of speaking is explored in Matt Rudge’s film. Rudge questions whether the love-affair with the Costa del Sol is curtailing, there’s an odd part of me that’d miss the sunburnt and sunstroked Brits of Spain.


‘The rise of the expat-preneur’

As an employee of a former one, I wouldn’t be doing justice to the survey without sharing this piece in the Wall Street Journal. Kaitlin Solimine observes the ease at which expats adopt the role of entrepreneur in their adoptive state.

Globalisation is made startlingly apparent in a 2011 survey:

‘For decades, expats have been sent abroad by multinationals—a 2011 survey by Brookfield Global Relocation Services found that 58% of company revenues were generated outside the country of a company’s headquarters.

I can’t say I’m surprised at Solimine’s observations, I feel expats are fast to see the market opportunities in a ‘new’ nation that acts as a fresh slate. Expat centres such as Singapore and Hong Kong appear buttressed by the ‘expat-preneur’.


The search for the ‘real’ Dubai

In a well-written tale of an Emirati camel race, an expat finally finds hermself out of place (if that makes sense) amongst the throngs of locals.

The article put me out to ponder, wondering if this was in some way the ‘real’ Dubai as I’d argue the real Dubai, however synthetic it seems, is found in the present – its towering blocks of metal and glass. Annabel Kantaria sure found a piece of cultural tradition but I think you’d be going in circles (much like the camels) finding reality in Dubai.


News and Noteworthy in Expatria: 16-22 March 2015

St. Patrick’s Day celebrated worldwide

17 March 2015 marked the commemoration of St. Patrick’s day and if you wanted a barometer for the extent of our global interconnectedness then its worth looking into. Paddy’s day seems more a global event than a national one, a holiday hallmarked by the diaspora with their hodgepodge of nationalistic saccharine sentimentality; Guinness sunk down with cries of ‘Slainte!’

Celebrations across North America have become historical tradition, however the festival of St. Patrick now extends as far as Shanghai and Korea.



Expat tax reform enters political debate in America?

The United States of America Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) has been a hotly debated topic since its inception. The Act, which requires extra-nationals to pay tax in their native U.S.A, has led to record numbers of Americans renouncing their citizenship. Its reported that the Senate now look to act to revise the legislation.


Facebook to lend a hand to expatriate-focussed businesses

Facebook has recently announced the introduction of a tool that will make targeting online expats much easier and, hopefully, more effective. Estimates reckon there’s a 92 million strong expat facebook field to be found by relevant businesses. This statement was provided by Facebook:

‘Expats aren’t just using Facebook to keep in touch with people. Brands, organizations, celebrities and news outlets also offer a vital connection to home.’


Another Week in Expatriate News: 9-15 March 2015

The Destruction of Cyclone Pam recalled by Vanuatu-based British Expat

The Category 5 storm that swept through the Pacific Islands with winds upwards of 150mph has left the island of Vanuatu in disrepair. The historic storm has claimed at least 24 lives and displaced a further 3,300 according to the UN.

Expat Maggie Crawford, who runs a Scuba-diving centre, recalled the storm that ‘lasted 30 hours’ in the Express, stating ‘If you look at how everything is today it’s heartbreaking. The before and after would make you want to cry.’


HSBC guides expatriates where to bank live

Men’s Journal and Yahoo Travel have revealed the bank’s insights into expatriate life, adding to the the myriad of lists that tell expats where to displace themselves. Surprisingly, tax haven, Switzerland tops the list, followed by Singapore, Germany, China and Bahrain. According to their survey, economic stability and growth appear the essential criteria for those based overseas.

The BBC have also provided insights into why Singapore proves to be such a popular destination amongst expats. It comments on how a weighty wage packet and a city moulded to foreign pallets has made it a utopian metropolis for global business people.




Is an expatriate life one of rejuvenation or wearing?

Sofia McFarland, blogging for the Wall St. Journal, questioned whether moving country can turn back the clock and rejuvenate the world weary traveller. Hong Kong has become an elixir of life for the internationally-based. Age, like nationalities, lose their rigid distinctions in a land heavily populated by expatriates of all shapes and sizes.

However, Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher have come down with Jaded Expat Syndrome and documented it in the Huffington Post. The couple comment on the weariness of the well-trampled expats of Mexico, old hands worn by a life abroad…



This week in Expatria: 2-9 March 2015

The first in a series of photography from international student and expat, Amy Lees. ITALY.

Lists, Lists and More Lists

Digital Media’s preoccupation with ranking every facet of life in a list continues as data provided this week, by Mercer, into the quality of life for internationally-based business people was released.

THE STRAITS TIMES reports Mercer’s list as follows:

  1. Vienna
  2. Zurich
  3. Auckland
  4. Munich
  5. Vancouver
  6. Dusseldorf
  7. Frankfurt
  8. Geneva
  9. Copenhagen
  10. Sydney

Relocate Global state that this is the 6th year in a row that Vienna’s headed the list. The top Asian city is Singapore (26th) and Montevideo (78th) the top-ranker for South America, Singapore also doubles as the world’s expensive city.

The Mercer report does not give as glowing report to the Gulf Coast as it does Europe and Australasia. The findings ranked Dubai (74th) and Abu Dhabi (77th) as the region’s only top 100 representatives.

Comparing this list to the most expensive cities to live in is illuminating. Data provided by The Economist show that four of the top ten cities for living (according as Mercer) are amongst the top ten most expensive.


Young expat lost in Beijing penal system

Facts and figures were the sole finding of last week. The Wall Street Journal provided a cautionary tale in the shape of Noak Jonsson, an 18 year old expat based in Beijing who was detained after a barroom brawl sprawled out into the streets. Jonsson served a month in prison and the article highlights the difficulties expats can come up against when entangled in native law and order.


A Nairobi Satire

On a lighter note, Frances Woodhams of africaexpatwivesclub.blogspot.co.uk appears in The Telegraph, providing a fictional account of a hapless western news reporter based in Nairobi. Her satire, in the vein of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, has her protagonist desperate to find some strife in the rurality of Kenya and, what appears, the backwaters of journalism.

Jeremy takes up his microphone once again: “Quick Isaiah, focus on me and make sure you get  that child in the background.”

Isaiah’s camera starts rolling and Jeremy is broadcasting loud and clear: “As the day closes in Mandera slum, a sense of utter hopelessness pervades …”


World’s most expensive cities


Mercer’s report into the quality of life for expat business people


David Sapsted’s comment on Mercer’s findings


The Gulf Coast’s expat destinations ranked


Noak Jonsson’s Story.


Frances’ Woodhams’ satire