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Columnists > Toni Hargis

Toni Hargis
Toni Summers Hargis is the author of The Stress-Free Guide to Studying In the States; A Step-by-Step Plan for International Students (Summertime). She is also the author of 'Rules, Britannia; An Insider’s Guide to Life in the United Kingdom' (St. Martin’s Press) and blogs as Expat Mum.

Toni Hargis

Global Citizenry – Ruined By Red Tape

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday November 19, 2014 (02:54:54)   (3081 Reads)
Toni Hargis
You’d think with so many people moving around the world, holding citizenship in more than one country and generally being planetary, the countries of origin would come to terms with it all and well, not put so many obstacles in the way.

I understand the need to (try to) regulate who comes in, especially if they end up receiving benefits having never paid into the system; (although one might argue many natives do the same). The UK is up in arms at the moment at the number of immigrants apparently claiming welfare benefits and living in free housing, although there are restrictions on this, as explained here. Possibly because of the number of EU citizens entering the UK, there are now tougher entrance requirements for non-EU citizens, including those married to Brits.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Like Waking From A Deep, Deep Sleep

Posted by: Carole on Saturday October 18, 2014 (17:44:43)   (3422 Reads)
Toni Hargis
I saw an article yesterday reminding everyone that London’s iconic “Gherkin” building is ten years old. I’m not familiar with it at all. Oh, I know what it looks like, where it is and that its real name is its street address, 30, St. Mary Axe, but it’s not part of my London. I left in 1990, so the Gherkin, along with the Shard, the new St. Pancras station and many others (not to mention numerous new tube lines) weren’t there when I lived in London.

For four years of my working life I lived in Wimbledon, and these days, despite visiting various friends each year, I can barely navigate my way around. The train station had no shops, and the dreaded one-way system didn’t exist; the only thing that looks remotely familiar is the village High Street.    more ...

Toni Hargis

The Special Relationship

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday September 17, 2014 (03:50:09)   (1615 Reads)
Toni Hargis
At some point during World War 2, the United Kingdom and the United States of America put aside their previous military differences and announced that theirs was a “special relationship”. In truth it’s been a rather tortuous rivalry ever since they first chucked our tea overboard, but what the heck; let bygones be bygones. Only recently we saw Hillary Clinton (as Secretary of State) pointing out that the relationship “stands the test of time”, even though said “time” has only been a matter of decades. Now, various polls show that a majority of Brits think the USA is quite good, and Americans return the compliment with similar, positive numbers.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Forgetting My English

Posted by: Carole on Monday August 18, 2014 (04:16:46)   (4629 Reads)
Toni Hargis
I suppose it’s inevitable that when you go years without speaking your native language, you start to forget a few words. Apparently it’s called language attrition and is a well-known phenomenon, particularly if you avoid speaking your native language while learning a new language, or if you rarely come across people who speak your native language. A French friend, who has lived abroad for more than thirty years and now lives in Ireland, tells me that she often forgets French words and it takes her a good couple of weeks to get back into French-speaking mode every summer. An English friend now living in Portugal reports that while she speaks mainly English, she occasionally finds herself slipping a Portuguese word into an otherwise English sentence. (Would this be called Portlish, in the style of Franglais or Spanglish, I wonder?)    more ...

Toni Hargis

“That’s Just Who I Am” – Assimilate Or Be Yourself?

Posted by: Carole on Friday July 18, 2014 (01:05:45)   (5173 Reads)
Toni Hargis
Taking my inspiration from Bravo TV’s The Ladies of London this month. It’s a reality show starring two British women and five Americans, living the high life in London. A bit like the Real Housewives but without the face-slapping and table turnovers,- so far. LOL has sucked me in because of the US versus UK cultural differences and how the Americans are dealing with them, or not. One American (Juliet) is fairly new to the London scene and is portrayed as the “typical” American; constantly in trouble for being too loud and blunt. She can be heard almost every week announcing “That’s just who I am”.

And it got me a-thinking.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Keeping Your Eye On The Expat Ball

Posted by: Carole on Friday June 20, 2014 (15:11:20)   (2691 Reads)
Toni Hargis
So, a couple of things I’m hearing have this expat more than a little perturbed. The first is the fact that all British passports now have to be processed in the UK, as opposed to at various British Embassies, as has been the practice heretofore.

Inevitably, we are now hearing of huge, and I mean huge, delays for Brits abroad attempting to renew British passports Apparently the addition of expat Brits to the passport renewal process in the UK has led to an astonishing 30,000 backlog in the entire system.    more ...

Toni Hargis

How To Manage Your Summer Guests

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday May 20, 2014 (23:52:14)   (4050 Reads)
Toni Hargis
For many expats, it’s the summer – a time for house guests, who often stay for longer than a week. It’s important not to underestimate the effort it takes to host people, be they family or friends, and no matter how much you enjoy their company. Here’s a few pointers I’ve cobbled together from my decades of experience:-

- Don’t be afraid to limit their duration. Family members coming over for a month and more is one thing, but friends and their broods staying for three weeks (if that’s too long for you) should be politely told that only two weeks is convenient. If they insist on asking why, make something up; they’ll never know.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Expat Life Keeps You Humble

Posted by: Carole on Saturday April 19, 2014 (02:36:54)   (3291 Reads)
Toni Hargis
I suppose the same can really be said of travel in general, but with expat life, you don’t have the protection of the tourism status - “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing but that’s OK, I’m only here for a week”. And boy, there’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end and making a fool of yourself on a daily basis.

When I first came to the States back in the dark ages (1990, to be exact) a lot of things were completely new to me. Like walking for miles (it seemed) to find a mailbox when I could have just put my letters in my own mailbox as out-going mail.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Social Media – Keeping Us In The Loop

Posted by: Carole on Friday March 21, 2014 (01:41:52)   (3342 Reads)
Toni Hargis
Like many Brits, a lot of my immediate family lived close by when I was growing up, and the ones who were spread out over the country, we saw perhaps once a year. Anyone who moved overseas kept in touch with sporadic letters and even more sporadic (and prohibitively expensive) phone calls. The family jungle drums however, often kept us informed of everyone’s activities no matter where they were; even if you didn’t see a cousin every week or month, you knew what they were up to and with whom!

These days I have cousins and second cousins on Facebook and I probably know more about them than if I were living in the next street.    more ...

Toni Hargis

Expat Life – A Matter Of Flexibility

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday February 25, 2014 (19:04:06)   (2406 Reads)
Toni Hargis
When I came to the USA in 1990, there were quite a few Brit things I couldn’t get. I remember looking for mint sauce (to go with the lamb), being gone for hours and finally settling for fresh mint and vinegar. It worked by the way, but there wasn’t a hope of buying a jar of mint. Ditto with egg cups, electric kettles and melamine table mats with beautiful prints on them. (Those I had to haul back from the UK, and they weighed a ton.)

Of course, back then there was no Internet. I know. Gasp. I had to locate items myself, phone up and order things or ask visitors for the UK to bring things over.    more ...

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