±Save On Expat Insurance

±Your Account


Create Account
and get our Guide to Moving Abroad - FREE! 


Username
Password


Forgotten password/username?

±Get Email Updates

Notify me when new content is added

±Social Media - Follow Us!

Columnists

Expat Focus Columnists

(meet all our columnists here)


Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Accepting the Accent

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Monday October 27, 2014 (13:16:01)   (980 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Despite my best efforts to be open-minded, uncharitable thoughts still abseil into my head with the stealth and speed of a crack SAS infiltration. You know the kind: the incredulous “You wanted that unsightly plug to stretch your ear like a perished Y-front waistband?” or the terse, “bugger off!” behind a fixed smile when the Jehovah’s Witnesses doorstep you in the middle of dinner.

Now that my eldest children ask for a drink of ‘wahdurr’ and append a querying ‘right?’ to statements of apparent certainty, I’m ashamed to admit I sometimes think, “There’s still time to get out of Canada before they start calling trousers pants, and pasta noodles.”   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Terry Fox – A True Canadian Hero

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Wednesday October 01, 2014 (21:13:20)   (959 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
I confess I’d never heard of Terry Fox before we came to Canada - yet another reminder of just how distinctive cultural identity is (even within broadly similar societies), that something so significant to one nation can be relatively unknown to others in the same hemisphere.

Expatriation exacts a steep learning curve in return for that ‘big picture’ perspective, and much of my hastily acquired Canadian cultural education came secondhand from my children. It must be so much harder rocking up in a new country with no kids to send out on reconnaissance.

Thanks to mine I learnt (after a fashion) the national anthem - “true pastry love, and all our suns come out” - and what to do when you hear it.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

The Canadian Way

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Friday August 22, 2014 (20:30:29)   (1516 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
The day dawned. The pressure was on. People were making demands, asking questions - difficult questions – and the answers lay just beyond my reach. The opportunity was there for the taking, a classic Carpe Diem moment.

The idea percolated in my head as I went about my chores, slowly, steadily filling my mind with its immediacy like the smell of coffee fills a room. The voice in my head, sensing indecision, seized its chance, “Do it, don’t be a wuss. Just don’t think about it and do it.”

We’ve been here before, this voice and I. It knows my weaknesses, knows all too well that once a gauntlet has been thrown down I find it difficult to walk away and keep my self-respect.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

That’s Queer! The Evolution Of Language And Belief

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Friday June 20, 2014 (19:50:19)   (1080 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Toronto is currently hosting WorldPride 2014, the now internationally recognized celebration of the human right to sexual diversity. The ten-day festival boasts concerts, art shows, parades and parties – LOTS of parties.

It’s the first time North America has won the rights to host the event and the theme this year is “Rise Up,” symbolizing the perseverance of members of the LGBTQ community in speaking out for justice and fairness, as well as refusing to be afraid or ashamed of who they are.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Bugged Out

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Tuesday May 20, 2014 (19:17:00)   (2643 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
In the UK blossom flutters to the ground as Spring segues into Summer; ice-creams are raised to indulgent lips, trips to the seaside planned, and bared white legs and flowerbeds dazzle, the latter in glorious Technicolor. Those first snowdrops are a distant memory.

By contrast, here in southern Ontario it’s been just four weeks since our last snowfall, and while the stain of green spreads slowly across the ground many trees still raise skeletal arms to the sky. Buds are just breaking into leaf and dandelions send out exploratory squadrons to assess if conditions are ripe for mass invasion.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

A Taste Of The Past

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Saturday March 29, 2014 (17:44:27)   (1587 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Moving Above Zero

We’ve had an exceptionally harsh and lengthy winter here in Ontario, but hopefully it’s almost over now. You know Spring is in the air when you feel a mounting inner joy akin to sap rising, and you can bet sap is rising in sugar bushes province-wide.

A sugar bush is a stand of predominantly maple trees and tapping for sap begins when daytime temperatures get above freezing but nights are still below. Once nighttime temperatures rise the sap stops flowing so you have to hit a sugar shack while you can. The season started later than usual this year thanks to our record-breaking winter weather.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

School In Canada - Small Differences, Big Impact

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Thursday February 20, 2014 (23:09:17)   (2778 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Trawling online recently I came across an article about a UK school defending its decision to suspend a pupil over a wrestling logo shaved into his hair; and before that, another story about another school apologizing for insisting a parent supply a photograph of their chickenpox-stricken child for absence monitoring.

Taken together they were a startling reminder of the differences in education and social attitudes between Britain and Ontario, Canada, where we‘ve lived now for nearly four years; almost long enough to forget all the small ways life overseas can be strikingly different even in countries broadly similar.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

We Hunkered Down And Pressed On...

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Thursday January 09, 2014 (19:13:54)   (2198 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Chillin’

2014 has blasted in with extreme cold weather here in Ontario, Canada. Windchill is in the minus thirties/forties and you risk frostbite if you’re out for any length of time with skin exposed.

This is our fourth winter in Canada and we’re better equipped to endure it now than ever. The children all have snowpants, snowboots and frost-protective coats and gloves – a far cry from our first year here when we scraped by with no car and the bare minimum.

Our First Canadian Winter

I remember how the snow began falling in earnest on the first of December, cleaving to some indiscernible timetable, and we didn’t see the ground again until April.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Time For Snow Tires?

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Wednesday November 27, 2013 (14:35:14)   (2096 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
I must have been looking the other way because it’s suddenly winter and very cold. The manageable minus three degrees, crisp sunshine and bracing air that chased us into the supermarket at the weekend were gone when we came out – replaced by snow tumbling from the vast black maw above and a wind-chill of minus fifteen, so that I almost thought we’d used the wrong exit and stepped out into Siberia.

“Yay, it’s the sticky kind!” yelled my eldest, ecstatic at the prospect of snowballs and frozen frolics. Somehow we manhandled both shopping and three wired children into the Jeep – and then the fun began.

It was indeed the sticky kind. It stuck to the roads and became a slick mirror reflecting with crystalline cruelty the impotent wheelspins of drivers wrestling Momentum for control.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Canadian Creepy Crawlies: ‘Does It Bite?’

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Wednesday October 02, 2013 (23:02:00)   (2510 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
One of the less vaunted aspects of adapting to life abroad is getting to know your neighbours. Not the human ones, with whom you can decide the degree of interaction you’re mutually comfortable with. I mean those household occupants we live cheek by jowl with who don’t share a surname or the rent (or any idea of personal space, come to think of it).

Before we emigrated I did a little internet digging on just how murderous Mother Nature habitually was in southern Ontario and was relieved to find Ontario's only poisonous snake is the Massasauga Rattler, which put us on a par with the adder in the UK. By moving, we’d just be swapping one for the other, the bonus being we’d hear this one coming!   more ...

blog comments powered by Disqus

Expat Focus Preferred Health Insurance Partners


Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.