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How To Stay On Top Of The News When Living Abroad

Living overseas will leave you disconnected and out of the loop. You won’t be fully up to date on the TV shows, celebrity gossip or sports results that were so hard to avoid at home.

While escaping from these mind numbing news-bites might be one reason for moving away in the first place, you’ll also miss out on all the important headlines and top stories that actually have an impact on the lives of your nearest and dearest at home.Imagine being a Brit abroad with no clue that friends at home were debating Brexit, or an American without an understanding of Trump vs Clinton. Living overseas doesn’t mean you’ll be immune from upheaval at home and ultimately you may be coming back to a country that is very different from the one you left.

In this age of information, with super-charged smartphones in every pocket, it seems absurd that just being in another time zone would leave you out of touch with events. Surely there’s always a way to find out what is going on?

The big stories will probably reach you through local media, but you may have to go hunting for the smaller stories. Local news from your hometown will be harder to find than the world-changing headlines. Only those looking in the right places will be able to find these tidbits of neighbourhood news.

You may also be surprised at how the local media in your country report events. It can be a refreshing change to see an outsider reflecting on the state of your nation, but it can also be upsetting to see your home cast in a sharply critical light.

Living in another culture is a valuable chance to experience the lifestyles and attitudes of another culture, but often this also teaches expats a lot about their own values and those of their home nation.

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Whether the news be good or bad, the reaction supportive or critical, and the story big or small, there should always be a way for you to keep up to speed with the stories that matter to you.

RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are an old idea that have largely fallen out of fashion but were once an important tool for anyone who needed up-to-the-second information.

When watching 24-hour news you’ll often see a line of scrolling text across the bottom of the screen. This text, or ‘ticker tape’ will succinctly sum up the latest developments in unfolding stories.

Imagine one of these at the top of your internet browser, continually delivering a personalised stream of stories on the subjects that matter most to you, from the sources you trust.

RSS feeds can be tweaked, adjusted, personalised and adapted to pick stories that are of interest to you, pulling them in from sites such as CNN, BBC News or directly from news agencies like AFP or Reuters.

Phone home

It might seem obvious, but the easiest way to find out what’s been going on is to ask.

© Matthew Kane on Unsplash

Whenever chatting to friends or family on video chat or over messaging apps, ask what’s been going on. They may begin telling you about the latest twist in a saga you knew nothing about, so keep asking. Not only will you find out about events but you’ll find out first hand what people’s reactions have been.

Hit the forums

Expat forums are an invaluable resource for anyone heading overseas, connecting you to people who have already solved every problem you are likely to encounter.

As well as being a source of advice, these forums can be a great place to get together and gossip with virtual friends about the goings-on at home and overseas.

Local newspapers’ websites

It’s usually fairly easy to find out what is happening at a national level in any country, however finding out what’s happening in more specific locations can be more difficult.

To find out what is happening in your old neighbourhood, keep checking back to the website of whatever local newspaper is published in the area.

Newspapers from home

Especially popular in expat havens around the world, it is normally possible to get old-style physical papers delivered overseas.

© Bino Storyteller on Unsplash

It’s not unusual to see British expats in sunny Spain reading The Guardian over breakfast. Due to the delay in shipping these papers, the news may be a day or two old, but for many the ritual of reading a paper is as important as the news itself.

Download apps

There’s an app for everything these days, filling your phone with all kinds of information.

But there are also apps for news publishers. You can sit on a beach in Thailand and read the New York Times, or swelter in the Amazon rainforest leafing through a digital version of Der Spiegel.

Some of these digital publications will require a subscription fee, but many will also come with added extras like magazine subscriptions or discounts on other products.

Rolling news TV

The idea of constant updates is not unique to the digital age. TV news channels have been broadcasting since the late 1980s, giving constant coverage of unfolding events.

In many countries you can access a range of sources, getting a number of perspectives on international events. Flick between CNN and Al Jazeera and then on to Russia Today so see how countries around the world react to the same incidents.

Google news

Everyone who uses Google as a search engine will know just how good it is at finding information. The same powerful algorithms can be used to keep on top of events.

One of the site’s tabs allows users to search just for news headlines, scouring reliable newspapers, TV channels and press agencies for stories on the desired subject.


Much like Google or RSS feeds, users can select the sources they want to receive news from, creating a constant feed of subjects that interest them.

You can follow news services for the latest headlines, local government accounts for local stories and your favourite TV chef for delicious recipes.

© freestocks.org on Unsplash

It’s easy to fall into the Twitter trap, constantly searching for entertaining, fascinating or amusing users who post content you’ll want to keep coming back to.

BBC World Service

The BBC is famed for the standards of its journalism and prides itself on impartial coverage of world events large and small. With a global network of newsgatherers living and working in communities, the BBC is often the first to break stories and deliver insightful commentary from reporters who truly understand the impact of events.

In addition to BBC News on TV and online, the World Service is a radio service that presents this top-notch journalism in an easy-to-understand format. Available almost anywhere in the world on short wave radio or through BBC apps, the world service caters for an international audience.

You’ll hear news from around the world, politics in Turkey, sport in Lebanon and health stories from the Cameroon. All stories are given an international spin, meaning every topic is as relevant and interesting as the next.

But the World Service isn’t just a scrolling coverage of events; reporters also dig deeper into their stories, producing extended documentaries that give even greater insight into life around the world.

How do you keep up to date with news from home? Share your tips in the comments!

Article by Andy Scofield, Expat Focus International Features Writer

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