Being an expat and moving to exotic locations around the globe can be exciting… yet, often terrifying and sometimes lonely. Advice on how to make friends in new places abounds on expat forums, and I’ve even pontificated myself on blogs and in my book on how to get settled in Dubai. The truth is, no matter where you’re moving to, the advice on settling in can be repurposed with simply swapping out the city and country name.
In the book Expat Women Confessions: 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions About Living Abroad they offer some sage advice on finding local groups and networks that you might like to join. “If you don’t find a group, network or association that interests you, do not be afraid to set one up yourself,” say the authors, Andrea Martin and Victoria Hepworth.When I moved to Dubai, I did find a few groups of business and expat women that I had common interests with and got quickly involved but I also felt the need to create my own tribes where I could establish the parameters and invite the members myself. There are two areas I am very passionate about and no matter where I am, try to find like-minded people to connect with… writing and community service. In Dubai, I set up the volunteer chapter of Room to Read and then also set up a writers group (Flamingo Authors). Both brought great joy and satisfaction and the other writers who joined the author group have become fantastic critique partners. Our Facebook page has been a great way to keep up on each other’s progress. I recently had the immense pleasure of helping one group member get her first book published. The first time she had talked about her desire to write a book was at one of our meetings.
Since moving to Thailand I have had some trouble finding a ‘Tribe’ to join, although I have found a perfect opportunity to ‘give back’ with a local charity and more recently found a few fellow writers through ChickyNet (an expat Women’s forum with six chapters throughout Thailand). We’ve started a Phuket Writers group and have had a couple of meetings. With National Novel Writing Month coming up, I got excited about sharing resources, working on my next novel and mentoring other writers to help get them started.
So, the Phuket Paradise Writers’ Retreat was born. It will be held in Bang Tao Beach, Phuket from November 1-6 in a small boutique hotel. We’ll take the whole place over and each day will be filled with discussions on plot & character development, writing believable dialogue, point of view, SPICING up your writing and overcoming writers block. My workshop co-facilitator is Jo Parfitt, a journalist, teacher, editor and publisher who mentors others to write and publish books and articles. Her recent move to Kuala Lumpur became my good fortune as it brought her closer to Thailand and made it uber convenient for her to come. Jo and I partnered a few years ago to offer writing workshops in Dubai and subsequently she became the publisher of my first book @Home in Dubai.
I’m looking forward to the retreat and expanding the writer’s tribe in Phuket. It’s already growing and the creativity is flowing. Anyone working on a novel and wanting to get away for a few days to write in paradise and make some real progress let me know! You can email me at email@example.com or visit my website for more information about the Writers' Retreat.
by Anne O’Connell.
A published author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011.
Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter and communications consultant since 2007, specializing in marketing, corporate communications, public relations, social media and website content. She and her husband have a passion for travel and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world. Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. You can visit her website at www.anne-oconnell.com or her blog at www.anne-writingjustbecause.blogspot.com.
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