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Michelle Garrett

Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

What Do You Call A Potluck In The UK?

Posted by: Carole on Friday May 24, 2013 (01:33:43)   (13151 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

I have a riddle for you:

What do you call a potluck in the UK?

Answer: Weird.

Actually, the proper answer is more like ‘odd’ or ‘different’ or even to the culturally astute, ‘very American.’

In the US a potluck is something that happens quite a lot in different social gatherings where the budget is low but the desire to get together and have food is high. Everyone who attends a get together where there will be food agrees in advance to a type of dish they will bring, perhaps a meat dish, a dip, a casserole, a salad, or a dessert. Store-bought is fine, if they aren’t able/willing to cook.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

Has Your Expat Life Inspired You To Write A Book?

Posted by: Carole on Saturday April 20, 2013 (02:08:18)   (4211 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

With the rise of reputable self-publishing systems we have also seen a rise in expat publications: novels, autobiographies, and how-to books are filling the virtual shelves.

Our expat lives are often so full of adventure and unique experiences that I can see exactly why someone might feel the desire to record their life for others to read. And we meet such a variety of people and hear their many versions of the Life Story that of course many of us feel compelled to create a novel (or several). And then there are the many ups and downs, the highs and lows of our adventures. And the sense that ‘if only someone had told me…’ inspires the idea that we could help others by creating a book on just this topic.

Are you one of those people? Have you written a book about or for expats? Or are you planning on writing one? Leave a comment below to tell us about it if you have!    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

Destined To Be An Expat In Britain?

Posted by: Carole on Thursday March 21, 2013 (23:39:34)   (2892 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

Expat life took me by surprise but it’s only because I wasn’t paying attention. It was probably an obvious destination all along. Some people are expats because they fell in love with a person from another country and followed them there. That’s part of my story, but not all of it.

When I was very little I remember staying with my grandparents for a while. Then my dad returned home from somewhere and showed me a thousand slides of misty far away places with pretty flowers, stone houses and sweeping hillsides criss-crossed with stone walls and hedges. A red phone box punctuated the blues, greens and greys. That was my first glimpse of Britain.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

The British Press Are At It Again

Posted by: Carole on Friday February 22, 2013 (01:46:50)   (1730 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

The British Museum, grand home of many national (and international) treasures, hosted the lecture for the London Review of Books on 4 February 2013. People waited expectantly for Hilary Mantel to begin her lecture, titled Royal Bodies, because the subject of royal consorts through the ages is something this author would know a lot about. Mantel, highly respected author of Wolf Hall, two time winner of the Man Booker Award for Literature, is one of the world’s most qualified people to speak about royal women, based on her years of research into the subject.

The lecture was given; people clapped, some leaned to one another and commented, nodded, agreed or disagreed, added their own thoughts, drank more wine and went home that evening, most probably not giving it another thought.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

When Home Is A Foreign Land

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday January 22, 2013 (13:46:01)   (2813 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

This is not supposed to be a political post.

I’m just confused trying to reconcile the country I see in my mind with the country I see in the media.

As an American living outside the States I am occasionally asked about the crime in my home country. When I first moved to the UK over 20 years ago a British tourist was shot and killed in New Orleans. He had been using his video camera in a rough part of the city and he was attacked and the camera stolen. It was very sad, as anything like this is. The British media was in a frenzy of indignation about gun laws and crime rate in the States and many of my British friends were in awe of how I managed to survive to my 20s growing up there.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

A Traditional Fairy Tale European Holiday Season?

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday December 19, 2012 (23:31:41)   (1987 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

My search for a traditional, fairy tale holiday season started when I was very young growing up in Minnesota.

I learned what traditional holidays were from TV, of course. I watched the usual American holiday favourites such as Frosty the Snowman, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life and admired the snow-covered landscapes, the carollers, the steaming mugs of something, and the good will to all.

And then there were the TV shows made by Disney, which were based on real fairy tales; these were the best of all. A ye olde scene from Europe, where snow fell artfully on steep pitched roofs and a glow of honest cheer shone through window panes onto the thick drifts below before a sleigh zipped past with prancing horses and bells making every passenger so jolly they simply had to burst into song.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

What Are The Most Difficult Things About Living Overseas?

Posted by: Carole on Saturday November 24, 2012 (00:06:12)   (9547 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

Not everyone loves living overseas and even people who do will still find a few difficulties from time to time.

These are the top 5 things I found most difficult:

1. Understanding that his friends are not necessarily my friends

I hear a lot of expats complain that they have no network or find it difficult to make friends. When I first moved to the UK I had a ready-made group of friends in my boyfriend's social group. Sort of.
They were people to hang out with and I sometimes did things on my own with them, but I remember once when everyone was well into an evening at the pub a woman in this group turned to me and complained that my boyfriend was so much more fun before I moved over.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

How Cheese Crackers Helped Me Get A Reality Check

Posted by: Carole on Monday October 22, 2012 (22:43:08)   (2744 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

Sometimes when you’re an expat you want to blame whatever trouble it is you’re having on your expat life. And sometimes it is indeed the case that being an expat may be the cause of or at least an influence on your situation.

Certainly some marriages come under a lot of stress with the expat life—whether you’ve moved overseas with your partner following his or her work, or you’ve moved overseas to be with a partner in his or her country, like I have.

And staying in touch with some friends is more difficult when you’re 6000 miles away from them—yes, even with Skype, Facebook and email, than it would be if you could still meet up each week for coffees or a night out every now and then.

A lot of people, myself included find having a baby overseas incredibly difficult when there are no family around to help out.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

11 Tips For Saying Goodbye To Visitors

Posted by: Carole on Sunday September 16, 2012 (13:11:46)   (4086 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

I’ve just said goodbye to my parents who have been with me for a month. I love that they stay a month—now that they’re retired they can do that and it makes the visit so much easier, almost like they’re living just next door and I can pop by and see them whenever. That’s what I miss most about living so far away from them, their involvement in my everyday life.

And yes, I was getting a headache at Heathrow as I tried to hold back the tears. Then we hugged and I sobbed. I stood next to girlfriends and mums and dads, all waiting for their people to go through the passport control to The Other Side, Out of Sight, and we all had wet eyes and tissues. I wondered how many of them would sit with family that night, being grumpy and moody, like I knew I probably would. I thought about all of us expats who deal with this all the time and wondered what different coping strategies everyone has.

Some of you will say good-bye to visitors with a great wave of relief, while others of you will be sobbing at the departure gates.    more ...


Columnists > Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett

10 Tips For The Perfect Expat Partner

Posted by: Carole on Thursday August 23, 2012 (02:34:01)   (3838 Reads)

Michelle Garrett

I recently had a conversation with Toni Hargis, another Expat Focus columnist, about the lonely position we sometimes find ourselves in as expats. I’m not lonely because I’m the only American in the area, and I’m not lonely because I’m the only person who doesn’t share the cultural history in a group of people at a dinner party or other gathering.

The true isolation happens when the people closest to you, your partner and children, have no real idea of the whole swathe of personal history and events, the cultural history of your past.

It’s a lot to expect a partner to understand what an expat needs if they have no training, even if the expat understands their own needs (which we often don’t). So I thought I would put together a guide!    more ...