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Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Expat Focus Columnists

(meet all our columnists here)


Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Just Another Day

by Aisha Isabel Ashraf, Tuesday March 03, 2015 (13:09:09)   (169 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 (10:51:26)   (36 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 (10:04:52)   (183 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 ...

Nicole Webb

Nicole Webb

Four Good Reasons Why You Need To Put China On Your Bucket List!

by Nicole Webb, Tuesday February 17, 2015 (14:16:20)   (1732 Reads)
Nicole Webb
If you've never been to China (and maybe you never want to) I'm here to convince you to give it a shot, to put it on the bucket list!

I'm not promising a picture perfect paradise that will blow your mind but I am pitching a place that is predominantly laced with a fascinating past intertwined with an equally intriguing present. It's a unique combination that may well give you one of your more priceless 'holiday' experiences.

I've been living in Xi'an, north west China for around five months now and whilst I lived in Hong Kong for four years and had a reasonably good induction into Asia, (naively) I assumed I was prepared for a move to the motherland. I wasn't.   more ...

June Finnigan

June Finnigan

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

by June Finnigan, Monday February 16, 2015 (15:56:30)   (1692 Reads)
June Finnigan
The continuing adventures of June Finnigan, her Man, and Farty Barty the cat.

Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Well, despite the agonising pain in the jaw after a ‘brutto’ time at the dentist, I am writing to you with all my updates in our little bit of Chianti.
The first week was an overlap from the New Year celebrations, which my man and I enjoyed at our daughter’s new home between San Gimignano and Volterra. It is a wonderful old farmhouse on the edge of woodland with panoramic views to the west coast. We were actually granddog sitting whilst the family went off skiing on the Italian French border. For us it was unconditional love from two gorgeous big dogs, providing we fed them and took them for walks of course.   more ...

Piglet in Portugal

Piglet in Portugal

Grandma Lives In The Computer

by Piglet in Portugal, Sunday February 15, 2015 (21:27:22)   (1761 Reads)
When you move away from your family and friends to retire or work in another country your relocation plans were probably accompanied by a sense of adventure, and a desire to experience a new way of life.

However, if your relocation to foreign shores was a result of a career opportunity and you are a trailing spouse you probably had little choice, so I’m curious: when the feeling of elation subsided was this sense of adventure replaced by a heavy heart and a longing for your homeland, family and friends? What about grandparents – how did they feel?

For retirees who moved abroad while their children were still single and enjoying the highlife, grandchildren were probably just dim rays of hope like distant stars in the night sky.   more ...

Alka Chandiramani

Alka Chandiramani

Dealing With Cross-Cultural Differences In The Workplace

by Alka Chandiramani, Thursday February 12, 2015 (16:39:36)   (310 Reads)
Alka Chandiramani
It has been stated that during his 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela was inspired by a powerful phrase from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul”. His leadership qualities prevailed through much ambiguity and uncertainty that he continuously faced during his times.

Today, more than ever before, it is the ability to connect with people, and build successful teams in such a cross-cultural environment that is going to help leaders and organizations stand out amongst its competitors. So many of us work in companies that operate globally and have to deal with cross-cultural differences.   more ...

Judi Lembke

Judi Lembke

Vinterkräk ....WHAT??

by Judi Lembke, Wednesday February 11, 2015 (18:29:29)   (394 Reads)
Judi Lembke
My column is late. Actually, it’s more than late but I have an excellent excuse. No, my dog didn’t eat it (I don’t have a dog) and it didn’t get lost in the mail. Instead, I was struck down by one of the most vile experiences known to woman or man: Sweden’s dreaded ‘winter vomiting disease’ (yep, that’s a literal translation).

Before moving to Sweden I, like pretty much everyone else, had suffered through my fair share flu attacks. Never fun and certainly filled with a few days of misery but before you know it you’re right as rain and carrying on as usual.

And then I moved to Sweden and discovered – or rather, I should say I was forcefully introduced – something the Swedes like to call vinterkräksjuka.   more ...

Derek Knight

Derek Knight

A New Expat In St Louis

by Derek Knight, Friday February 06, 2015 (23:51:55)   (617 Reads)
(Welcome! This is my first post here on Expat Focus, so I thought I’d start with a look at some of the things I’ve noticed since being a resident in America.)

When I first moved here to St Louis from the United Kingdom almost 3 years ago, I was constantly being asked where I was from, my accent being a real giveaway that I’m not originally from the Mid-West. To most people over here, my accent is an interesting thing, and I can totally understand that, and for most of the time it’s actually quite a useful conversation starter.

Only occasionally is it a hindrance, but I do recall one time when I was in a store and asked an assistant for help in finding a particular item. Rather than trying to help, they were so enthralled by my accent that they stopped what they were doing and started grilling me on all things British!   more ...

Diane Lemieux

Diane Lemieux

World Peace - One Friendship At A Time

by Diane Lemieux, Thursday February 05, 2015 (00:20:19)   (1075 Reads)
Diane Lemieux
Batool Accad was the only one of the five panellists at the workshop wearing a hijab: coral pink from head to toe that drew attention to her gentle face and striking grey eyes.

Though born in Syria, she grew up in Kuwait. Her parents were members of the well-educated Middle Eastern expatriate community giving her a cosmopolitan and international worldview. She married directly after high school and moved directly as an expat to Nigeria where she has lived her entire adult life.

The workshop, called What’s in it for Me?, was designed to help globally mobile women identify professional (whether paid or volunteer) activities in Lagos that contribute to their long-term personal goals.   more ...

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