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A Little Advice

I know that February is the “short month”, but it’s seemed to drag on and on in our house. Chalk it up to a full schedule and an active baby. In addition to picking up more hours at work and other extracurricular activities, we now have a very mobile little boy! Joe has been crawling all over the place and very little escapes his grasp. Add in a brief bout with a virus and cutting his first tooth, and you’ll understand why this month has seemed so long.

Having so many other activities has left less and less time for my blog. I’ve skipped a few days and unfortunately went a bit longer in replying to emails from potential expats than what I’d normally like. I love that people feel free to email me – I do my best to come across as approachable – but I sometimes wish that people would take a moment before hitting the “send” button and do a little prep work.If I may, I’d like to offer a bit of advice for readers who are thinking about emailing an expat blogger.

1. Read their blog

This may seem obvious, but before you email an expat blogger, take some time to click through their posts. If they have an “about” section, read it, and do a keyword or topic search for things that are of interest to you. I have two general pages that are full of information for people who are thinking about either moving here or, more specifically, getting their nurse’s license here. I don’t expect people to read each post that I’ve ever written, but I do expect them to take at least a cursory glance at those pages.

2. Respect their time

Most expat bloggers that I know have commitments outside of their blogs. I have a job, a husband, and a baby, not to mention several volunteer commitments. I try to respond to emails within 48 hours, even if only to say “Hi – got your email and will answer your questions in detail in a few days”, but sometimes it’s longer than that. Most people are pretty understanding, but I have come across a person {or two} who have told me not to bother emailing them since I didn’t respond in what they considered to be a timely fashion.

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3. Be specific with your questions

This is tied into being respectful of a blogger’s time. I get lots of emails where the only question asked of me is “Do you have any advice”. I have lots of advice, but if a person doesn’t ask me specific questions, then they’re putting the burden on me to either (a) send a generic, advice-filled email with information that may or may not be relevant to that person and can likely be found on one of my “about” pages or (b) send them an email in response asking them to be more specific.

4. No really, be specific with your questions

I’ve learned the hard way that it pays to make sure someone is specific when they email you. I once had an email with questions about housing in Auckland and where I thought the best suburbs were located. I spent nearly 45 minutes typing my thoughts on different areas of Auckland, only to have them reply that they weren’t interested in any of those locations, and could I tell them about areas in another, further south part of Auckland. I felt like banging my head on the keyboard. Lesson learned – I now always ask people if there’s a specific area within the city that they are considering, and base my response on that.

5. Take a moment to say “thank you”

This one should be self-explanatory. If a blogger takes the time to respond to your email and answer your questions, then you should take a moment to thank them for doing so. You don’t have to send flowers – all you need to do is click “reply”, type in, “Thank you so much – I appreciate it”, and then click “send”. Easy as can be, and it’ll go a long way in your favour if you ever decide to email that blogger again.

As always, feel free to email me with questions about moving to and life in New Zealand… but please make sure you take these things into consideration first.

Jenny is an American from Indiana living abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. An ER nurse, she spends her spare time with her husband and infant son and enjoys photography, travel, and writing about her experiences as an expat. You can read more of her thoughts and opinions at www.practicallyperfectblog.com

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