One of the wonderful things about the world of blogging is the connections you can make with people whose lives may be very different from your own. If you’re a (somewhat) regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed some links over on the right-hand pane to other blogs that I follow. The one thing these have in common is that (with one exception) they in some way reflect the expat experience; but their differences are what make these blogs really fun to follow.
In no particular order (except how they’re listed on my page) here’s a look at some of my favorites.
Written by Cecilia G. (“Celi”) this blog tells the story of her life “developing a mostly sustainable/mostly self sufficient/mostly organic farm to feed ourselves with, out here in the Midwest of America.” Celi is an expat from New Zealand, where she was a High School Teacher of Drama for ten years. Now, she spends her days dealing with runaway pigs, stubborn chickens, and the kinds of weather extremes that you can only find on the open plains of Illinois.
I love reading her daily blog for the photos of life on her farm — a world away from my warm and comfortable suburban house — and for her periodic philosophical musings. If you get a chance, check out some her recent posts: Waste Not Those Feet (January 24) and Is That Art? (January 26) were two of my recent favorites, posts that make you pause and think anew about your world.
Marta is a Spanish expat who has lived in China since 2006. She blogs about life in Suzhou with her Chinese boyfriend “and our chubby golden retriever.” Sometimes she describes taking foreign visitors on treks around Suzhou, with lots of photos of the area.
This blog has been eye opening, though, for showing the kinds of details about life in another country that you just can’t get from newspapers and TV. One recent example: Her January 16 post “How to Survive Winter in Suzhou” revealed that there is no central heating there and houses are badly insulated, so “it is often as cold inside as outside.” Did you know that, starting in October, Chinese people start wearing their long underwear? Until I came across Marta’s blog, I never pictured Chinese people wearing LongJohns.
This one is not about the expat life, but about being a freelancer. Created by Carrie Nicholson, Careful Cents is “a community of solopreneurs and freelancers who are committed to building life-centered businesses.” Her website is full of useful information and advice about starting and growing a freelance business. She has also written a lot of stuff on personal finance and financial organization. If you’re a new freelancer trying to figure out how to make this work, or a seasoned independent looking for ideas on generating more income, you should check out Careful Cents.
Carrie also runs a Careful Cents Facebook community, where members post questions and stories, and ask for help with particular problems. As someone new to the world of freelance writing, I’ve found it inspiring and helpful.
This is the blog of prolific writer and blogger Toni Summers Hargis. Originally from the northeast of England, Toni has lived in the States for a couple of decades, mostly “trying to come to terms with the oppressively hot summers and unbearably frigid winters of Chicago.” (As someone who also lived in Chicago for a number of years, I’d put Philadelphia summers well ahead of Chicago’s for oppressive heat, but Chi-town wins hands down on the winter stakes.)
Toni can also be found occasionally writing for the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, and a slew of other publications. Her posts are spot-on accurate about life as a Brit in the USA, ad often laugh-out-loud funny. She’s also a lovely human being — even though we’ve never met, I can say this because she responded immediately when I emailed her out of the blue asking for help with blogging.
She’s also written a book which was updated last year: “The Stress-Free Guide to Studying in the States; a Step-by-Step Plan for International Students.” I wish it had been available back in 1985 when I first came here as a grad student…
Finally, at the bottom of the pane you’ll see a link to expatsblog.com. This is a site dedicated to the expat experience with interviews, articles, practical information, and links to some excellent blog posts. A quick glance at today’s front page has interviews with a “small town Texas girl living in Germany,” a French expat living in Saudi Arabia, and a Swiss woman raising her kids in Australia. It’s a fascinating look at the differences that unite us.