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June Finnigan

Expat Focus Columnists

(meet all our columnists here)

June Finnigan

June Finnigan

A Month In The Life Of An English Writer In Tuscany - February Reflections

by June Finnigan, Saturday March 21, 2015 (20:11:44)   (68 Reads)
June Finnigan
The continuing adventures of June Finnigan, her Man, and Farty Barty the cat.

Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

February can be a strange month, don’t you think? As far as the Tuscans are concerned, it’s the second month of winter knowing that if we are going to get any severe weather, January and February are the two months to expect it. We had just a fleeting layer of snow, although our daughter and family who live higher up, were stranded for a couple of days.

For my man and me, the month started with the arrival of new storage from IKEA and we were at last able to transfer boxes of clothes to drawers and hangers.   more ...

Toni Hargis

Toni Hargis

What’s So Wrong With Looking Like A Tourist?

by Toni Hargis, Saturday March 21, 2015 (19:26:29)   (203 Reads)
Toni Hargis
Like many expats, I do a fair bit of traveling but it has never occurred to me to try to look like a native at my destinations. Who am I kidding? With my lily-white skin and fair hair, I stick out like a sore thumb in some countries. I came across this article however, which seems to suggest you don’t ever want to look like a tourist when traveling. Hmmm…did I not get the memo?

The writer claims – “The consequences of looking like a tourist in a foreign place can range from serious (becoming a target for theft and scams) to humorous (awkwardness, frustration, public embarrassment). Here are a few of the most blatant ways that your lack of familiarity with local culture in Europe can bring you public shame and humiliation, plus advice on keeping it cool while abroad.”   more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

Rosemary Border Rabson

La Grippe

by Rosemary Border Rabson, Thursday March 12, 2015 (21:04:17)   (235 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
La Grippe is an unassuming village on the road to Nevers. It bears an unfortunate name, la grippe being the French word for influenza, flu or the Dreaded Lurgy.

John and I have to drive through La Grippe on the way to Nevers, the capital of our département and the seat of petty bureaucracy at its most pernicious. Exchanging a British driving licence for a French one is a doddle elsewhere, but the bureaucrats at Nevers have their own perverse way of doing things, as readers of my column will be well aware.   more ...

Dr Allana Da Graca

Dr Allana Da Graca

The Move To Portugal

by Dr Allana Da Graca, Thursday March 12, 2015 (00:11:39)   (735 Reads)
Dr. Allana Da Graca
My husband and I looked at one another and knew the move was official. We loaded our last set of containers into the moving truck and realized that our move to Portugal was fast approaching. We had our going away parties, donated unwanted furniture and said goodbye. Fortunately, my husband has family in Portugal so my fears of getting stuck in the train station without the fluency of the language was something I did not have to ponder. In this blog I will highlight my initial observations about social aspects of living in Lisbon.


I live 15 minutes away from Lisbon and love the fact that the sense of community is rich in this city.   more ...

Courtney Martin

Courtney Martin

The Perks Of Being A Native English Speaker In Germany

by Courtney Martin, Sunday March 08, 2015 (21:27:55)   (374 Reads)
Courtney Martin
My first column here on Expat Focus was titled “The Perils of the Native English Speaker in Germany.” In that article, I complained about being a native English speaker in Germany. Well, I am back here to say that now, over one year after writing that article, I am beginning to see that being a native English speaker in Germany also comes with its fair share of perks.

Let’s start with graduate school, which is one of the main reasons that I moved to Germany in the first place. Although there are tons of great English-language graduate programs (perk for the native speakers!), I decided to go the difficult route and apply to only German-language programs.   more ...

Barry O'Leary

Barry O'Leary

Did You Become An Expat For Love?

by Barry O'Leary, Friday March 06, 2015 (23:47:38)   (295 Reads)
Barry O’Leary
One minute I was on a plane heading for Sevilla to try to learn Spanish, and the next I’m watching a stunning Spanish lady walking down the aisle towards me, yes me, to become my wife, wondering, how the hell did that happen? And to think, I wasn’t even intending on staying in Spain for long, and I definitely didn’t want a girlfriend stopping my plans to travel more. But that’s the thing about love; you never know when it’s going to take control of your life and turn you into a soppy fool.

Have you fallen for someone in another country and given up everything to be with them? There must be a ton of expats who have become enchanted by a local girl or guy and made that tricky decision to make a go of it with someone with a different nationality. Quite a few of the expats I know here, the long term ones with kids and a house and several points cards for the local Spanish supermarkets, have decided to stay here because of amor – love.   more ...

Derek Knight

Derek Knight

For The Birds

by Derek Knight, Friday March 06, 2015 (00:44:58)   (410 Reads)
Derek Knight
One weekend in early February, my wife asked me first thing on Saturday morning if I had filled up the car with gas, and then asked if I was up for a road trip. You bet I was, and before long we were heading off to… somewhere, but where was to be a surprise.

We headed up Interstate 64, and at first I thought we might be going to Hannibal MO, a town that we both really love. From our house, it’s about 115 miles and takes under 2 hours’ drive to get there. Once, we went there for a day trip and came back with 2 clocks from a simply amazing shop where they build and repair all types of old timepieces. We love how you can experience the Mississippi from there, and marvel at how picturesque it is. But, although we stopped at the tourist information office there and had a nice chat with the lady on duty, it was evident that our destination was yet further north.   more ...

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Just Another Day

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Tuesday March 03, 2015 (14:09:09)   (535 Reads)
Aisha Isabel Ashraf
Back to the window, basking in a winter sun blazing through glass, I warm my hands on my cup and inhale the aroma of toasted bagels, hash browns and coffee. Monday morning may take a while to get off the ground in my local Tim Horton’s, but it still effects a steady bustle. I look around - who else is here? - a rounded, grizzled old man with a face reminiscent of a teddy bear sits nearby. His hair is grey but his eyebrows are stubbornly black. I wonder if they hint at a mulish temperament.

Reaching into my shoulder bag for a book I stretch out in my chair, languorously crossing one leg over and tucking the foot behind my calf like a contented cat.   more ...

Diane Lemieux

Diane Lemieux

‘My Way’ Is The Hard Way

by Diane Lemieux, Tuesday March 03, 2015 (11:51:26)   (434 Reads)
Diane Lemieux
In the back of the Land Cruiser, “Claire” and her husband rolled up to the gate of their apartment complex after a dinner out. The driver flashed the car’s lights. They waited. He tentatively honked. They waited. Finally, a guard opened the gate, zipping up his trousers.

Claire was incensed. This is Lagos – it is not for nothing that we have guards. So how were they doing any guarding if they were asleep? She had a good go at them and the next morning reported the incident to the estate manager.

Weeks later, despite her best efforts, nothing changed.

After 9 months living in Lagos, Claire was convinced that:
a) The guards wilfully disregarded the rules
b) The estate manager purposely ignored her complaints
c) The behaviour of both was a sign of gross incompetence   more ...

Clara Wiggins

Clara Wiggins

Living In The Path Of Hurricanes: Why The Weather Sometimes Really Does Matter To Expats

by Clara Wiggins, Friday February 27, 2015 (11:04:52)   (368 Reads)
Clara Wiggins
I remember the first time I really started to understand weather. I was in New Zealand, on an life-changing round-the-world trip. Before then, I am a bit embarrassed to admit, weather was just something that happened – and then it passed. Perhaps I had just always led the sort of life that didn’t rely on weather forecasts. Mostly indoor, and if I had to go out, I could just take an umbrella. To be fair, I have always been the urban type – the thought of living in the rural countryside leaves me cold.

However, you can’t avoid weather in New Zealand. Mostly because it is so outdoorsy. And being on a big trip, with the intention of doing all those crazy things people on round-the-world adventures are meant to do (sky-diving, bungee-jumping, whale watching…) I also found I couldn’t avoid becoming one of those people who thinks about, talks about and even obsesses about the weather.   more ...

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