T Nation

Calling All Expatriates...

I’ve noticed theres a number of guys on this board who reside in foreign countries that may not be where they were born or raised.

My jobs been weighing on me quite a bit lately, to the point where I am starting to consider my options. A friend has been trying to get me to take off for awhile now, and another friend took his leave to Israel to live w/ a girl he met in India about two years ago.

I stuck it out until now, tried to make it work, but I’m seriously considering a change. I could just quit my job and find another one, but I fear I’d end up right in the exact same state I am now, which honestly isn’t that bad, but I really have nothing holding me back and I’d rather do something like this now, before shit happens and I become obligated to a life I loathe.

My buddy has been pushing hard for Asia, which I was resistant too, but I’m starting to change my mind. I also wouldn’t mind South America.

So to all expatriates:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.

  2. How did you find employment/start to support yourself financially?

  3. Are there any employeers that you know of that are will hire people specifically for expatriate job opportunities?

  4. How did you handle the language barrier? Did you have a good grasp of the language before you moved?

  5. How did you go about finding a place to reside before you moved?

…Really just any input, advice, suggestions, things to research, etc. I really don’t know what options are available or what to consider, so anything would be helpful.

Thanks.

I’ll be following this thread. I’m pursuing a maritime career, which means that I’m free to live where I want to… and I’m starting to get sick of this country.

I’m going to travel a lot the next few years and see if some place takes my fancy. Never been to Asia, but I’ve always been fascinated by Japan. Thailand is also a place I’d like to check out, as I hear a lot of good things from colleagues who live there.

I’ve noticed that forum member Cortes resides in Japan… maybe he’ll pop in here and talk about it.

[quote]theuofh wrote:
So to all expatriates:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.
    [/quote]

SW Ontario started to bore the hell out of me. Wrote my MCATs after uni, applied to 5 different med schools, got rejected by 4. Decided against an additional 4 years of school and embarking on a career I wasn’t that interested in. Finally made the decision to take a break from Canada and to experience a new culture.

I took a crappy job which offered a work visa. This place recruited overseas. Stayed there for awhile, mastered the language, found a good job with a good company which had branches in both Canada and Japan. Many expats don’t have the luxury of flying over to a job waiting for them, so I’d advise bringing at least enough money to sustain you for 3-4 months.

Yes. If you have a bachelor’s degree and are relatively clean cut, you can teach English as an expat. If you are Israeli, you can sell jewelry here. If you are black, you can work in a hip-hop store. If you have any kind of singing ability, you can sing at weddings. If you are a good looking Russian girl, you can suck dick for money. Japan really pigeonholes you based on your nationality and skin colour.

Didn’t know a word. Mastered the language by studying in my spare time and conversing with as many people as possible. Went from “uhh, sushi suki desu” to 1kyuu-level (mastery) in 5 years.

If you have a position lined up, Japanese employers handle this for you. They also set up your utilities. This REALLY helps.

[quote]
…Really just any input, advice, suggestions, things to research, etc. I really don’t know what options are available or what to consider, so anything would be helpful.

Thanks. [/quote]

If you are going the expat route, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Are you interested in a rewarding life experience and a different cultural viewpoint? I met a lot of people in Japan trying to escape something, often inner demons, and it tends not to work. Also keep in mind that your initial impression of a country and what the reality of it is can be far different. My first 3 months in Japan were absolutely awesome…everything is new and you look at everything through rose-coloured glasses. Making the decision to live there for several years exposes the true nature of a place.

Take the trouble to learn the language, just out of respect.

Don’t be a douchebag expat and treat a country like a personal dumping ground/amusement park. Japan has a lot of these types…pissing on shrines, picking fights with timid middle-aged men, etc. It makes the locals hate expats as a whole.

As far as options overseas, there are a ton. A few off the top of my head…

English Teaching: Japan, Korea, China, Middle East (great $$$ but need a Masters degree), South America, Europe (difficult without an EU passport)

Sports Instruction: Chile (skiing), Scuba diving pretty much anywhere tropical.

University Instruction: Any island in the South Pacific (with a Masters degree).

Good luck and keep us posted on your decision/progress

South American women FTW!

[quote]PimpBot5000 wrote:
theuofh wrote:

  1. How did you find employment/start to support yourself financially?

I took a crappy job which offered a work visa. This place recruited overseas. Stayed there for awhile, mastered the language, found a good job with a good company which had branches in both Canada and Japan. Many expats don’t have the luxury of flying over to a job waiting for them, so I’d advise bringing at least enough money to sustain you for 3-4 months.

  1. Are there any employeers that you know of that are will hire people specifically for expatriate job opportunities?

Yes. If you have a bachelor’s degree and are relatively clean cut, you can teach English as an expat. If you are Israeli, you can sell jewelry here. If you are black, you can work in a hip-hop store. If you have any kind of singing ability, you can sing at weddings. If you are a good looking Russian girl, you can suck dick for money. Japan really pigeonholes you based on your nationality and skin colour.

  1. How did you handle the language barrier? Did you have a good grasp of the language before you moved?

Didn’t know a word. Mastered the language by studying in my spare time and conversing with as many people as possible. Went from “uhh, sushi suki desu” to 1kyuu-level (mastery) in 5 years.

  1. How did you go about finding a place to reside before you moved?

If you have a position lined up, Japanese employers handle this for you. They also set up your utilities. This REALLY helps.

…Really just any input, advice, suggestions, things to research, etc. I really don’t know what options are available or what to consider, so anything would be helpful.

Thanks.

If you are going the expat route, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Are you interested in a rewarding life experience and a different cultural viewpoint? I met a lot of people in Japan trying to escape something, often inner demons, and it tends not to work. Also keep in mind that your initial impression of a country and what the reality of it is can be far different. My first 3 months in Japan were absolutely awesome…everything is new and you look at everything through rose-coloured glasses. Making the decision to live there for several years exposes the true nature of a place.

Take the trouble to learn the language, just out of respect.

Don’t be a douchebag expat and treat a country like a personal dumping ground/amusement park. Japan has a lot of these types…pissing on shrines, picking fights with timid middle-aged men, etc. It makes the locals hate expats as a whole.

As far as options overseas, there are a ton. A few off the top of my head…

English Teaching: Japan, Korea, China, Middle East (great $$$ but need a Masters degree), South America, Europe (difficult without an EU passport)

Sports Instruction: Chile (skiing), Scuba diving pretty much anywhere tropical.

University Instruction: Any island in the South Pacific (with a Masters degree).

Good luck and keep us posted on your decision/progress [/quote]

[quote]theuofh wrote:
I’ve noticed theres a number of guys on this board who reside in foreign countries that may not be where they were born or raised.

So to all expatriates:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.
    1992 left the US after getting out of US Army, first went to Croatia (part of my culture and I speak the language), then Netherlands, Thailand, back to US off and on, then South Africa. In Alaska now, followed a very nice woman

  2. How did you find employment/start to support yourself financially?
    Netherlands- had a moving company with a buddy I met in the gym

  3. Are there any employeers that you know of that are will hire people specifically for expatriate job opportunities?

depends on your skills or US Army

  1. How did you handle the language barrier? Did you have a good grasp of the language before you moved?

Netherlands, South Africa and Thailand, in all these places English was enough

  1. How did you go about finding a place to reside before you moved?

Found place when I got there, short term - cheap motel. Asked people in gym how they found apartments (first I would say hello and introduce myself), read the English language newspaper

…Really just any input, advice, suggestions, things to research, etc. I really don’t know what options are available or what to consider, so anything would be helpful.

Thanks. [/quote]

When I was in Hong Kong, a lot of my university buddies picked up Engrish teaching gigs off craigslist. For good, steady work at a school, it seemed like you needed a degree. It didn’t matter in what, just that you had one.

Vietnam did not require a degree. Then again, they don’t pay as much. But beer is cheap.

Good God, is beer cheap in Vietnam.

English is awesome in SE Asia.

I’m not an expat, but would say that if you can look honestly at what you’ve got at stake, honestly assess the risks, and be honest with yourself about why you’re making a decision and what it is you expect it to do for you, it’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do. (If you line up all the preceding, it’s not likely to be a real regret at all, even if it doesn’t pan out like you expect.) Make a pro/con list if you like. Do some research (like you’re starting to do here). Take your time. Then make a decision and go with it.

Good luck wherever you go, whatever you do.

This actually sounds very interesting. If I didn’t have so much family that I had to answer to here in Texas, I might actually consider it.

[quote]PimpBot5000 wrote:
theuofh wrote:
So to all expatriates:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.

SW Ontario started to bore the hell out of me. Wrote my MCATs after uni, applied to 5 different med schools, got rejected by 4. Decided against an additional 4 years of school and embarking on a career I wasn’t that interested in. Finally made the decision to take a break from Canada and to experience a new culture.

Also keep in mind that your initial impression of a country and what the reality of it is can be far different. My first 3 months in Japan were absolutely awesome…everything is new and you look at everything through rose-coloured glasses. Making the decision to live there for several years exposes the true nature of a place.

[/quote]

I feel the same as you felt when you left…I am fucking sick of my boring isolated suburban area. I am so fucking sick of it. I lived there for 15 years, I dont go anywhere else (I dont have a car),I am isolated, I walk the same fucking ugly road every fucking day…ARRGGGHH

You say now you see the true nature of the place (Japan)…How it is?

[quote]theuofh wrote:
I’ve noticed theres a number of guys on this board who reside in foreign countries that may not be where they were born or raised.

My jobs been weighing on me quite a bit lately, to the point where I am starting to consider my options. A friend has been trying to get me to take off for awhile now, and another friend took his leave to Israel to live w/ a girl he met in India about two years ago.

I stuck it out until now, tried to make it work, but I’m seriously considering a change. I could just quit my job and find another one, but I fear I’d end up right in the exact same state I am now, which honestly isn’t that bad, but I really have nothing holding me back and I’d rather do something like this now, before shit happens and I become obligated to a life I loathe.

My buddy has been pushing hard for Asia, which I was resistant too, but I’m starting to change my mind. I also wouldn’t mind South America.

So to all expatriates:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.

  2. How did you find employment/start to support yourself financially?

  3. Are there any employeers that you know of that are will hire people specifically for expatriate job opportunities?

  4. How did you handle the language barrier? Did you have a good grasp of the language before you moved?

  5. How did you go about finding a place to reside before you moved?

…Really just any input, advice, suggestions, things to research, etc. I really don’t know what options are available or what to consider, so anything would be helpful.

Thanks. [/quote]

Want to give me your job when you peace out? I’ve been trying to find a job up in Ohio for about a year now.

If you are thinking about France, you can try to join the french foreign legion. You fly over to one of the 5 major cities, you walk around and ask the locals “legion entrange?” and hopefully they will point you in the right direction. You get to a house or gate and the words above it will say LEGION ENTRANGE. The french foreign legion is an army unit comprised of different people from different countries and led by French Officers. Most have never spoken a french word before they joined. Once you join you have to commit 5 years for training, you might have to even go into combat. But afterwards you are automatically made into a French citizen. Good route if you are don’t mind putting 5 years into foreign military service. Seems like an adventure if you ask me. But 5 years of service is a bit too long.

[quote]jasmincar wrote:
You say now you see the true nature of the place (Japan)…How it is?
[/quote]

It would probably take a lifetime here to fully understand it.

Overall impressions:

People: Usually very polite and helpful, often out of societal obligation rather than genuine concern, but I’ll take forced politeness over rudeness any day of the week. Very concerned about social status/level. Generally well-meaning. Many are genuinely curious about the world outside Japan. (This is a brief cultural observation…when you dig away the layers of upbringing and societal rules, people tend to be the same the world over IMO)

COUNTRY:

City: Uglier than I expected. Lots of urban blight. Rusted pipes, cheap plastic roofing, exposed electrical wires are everywhere to be seen. Space is at an absolute premium and grass is a rarity. Even the richest of the rich of Tokyo don’t have anything even remotely resembling a yard.

Rural: Often gorgeous. Unfortunately the Japanese have seen fit to dam all but 3 rivers in the country, and there are concrete landslide re-enforcements on most hillsides (these are all government “make work” projects), but the mountains rival the best that Canada has to offer, and there are beautiful waterfalls and forests within driving distance of the biggest metropolitan centers.

Culture: Japanese culture and history is cool as hell. You can see remnants of the feudal samurai era everywhere you go. Even in the busiest cities you still see shrines and temples which have remained for hundreds of years. Some of my fondest memories of the country will be staying in actual buddhist temples and wandering the countryside.

Girls: Hot. Oh so freaking hot. They really take care of themselves. Absolutely the best tasting vaginas you will find anywhere on the planet (I’ve seen most of it, I know). Tend to be attracted to foreigners, but usually far evolved past the “me so horny soldier boy, me love you long time” stereotype. Still, very easy to get laid.

Food: Two pieces of sushi, 90 cents. All you can eat korean barbeque, ten bucks. People often bitch about the prices here, but if you don’t eat at expat places like “Big Tex’s Lonestar Ribhouse” I don’t find it all that bad.

how prevalent is English spoken if I were to go out to pick up girls in Tokyo?

I lived in South America and picked up Spanish (fluent) and Portugese (sorta), so Im not the ugly american, but Ive got a friend in Tokyo Ive been meaning to visit for like 3 years and Japanese beyond a few polite phrases is rough for a potential 2 week trip haha.

I’m an expat, but a student so can’t really help you with the employment stuff. I was born in the US, moved to the Philippines, and now am back in the US for college.

[quote]theuofh wrote:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing.
    [/quote]

I left India (for Canada) at the age of 17 (now 22). Because my parents had applied for immigration and it finally came through after 5 years. I was pretty happy at having the chance to skip the dreaded grade 12 board exams.

It’s not pretty (atleast in Canada). My parents took jobs in an auto parts factory. That was after having been successfully and gainfully employed for the past 20+ years in India. Apparently it doesn’t count as “Canadian Experience”.
One parent went back in 6 months. The other took courses and remained till last year. I supported myself with a student part-time gig

Doubt it. Maybe teaching English. In bound call centers are easy, you may even get a manager or a speech coach post in a country like India.

Knew the language since childhood. Extremely fluent. But its a significant barrier for those who aren’t so lucky.

Searched online for expats in the country. asked for advice, made a few contacts and found a real estate agent of the same nationality. I know some people simply come and look in To-Let sections.

  • Take extra cash…a little extra money can open doors
  • Learn the language before you go (4-6 month courses)
  • Definitely see if domestic company needs a foreign rep in that country.
  • The South-east asian countries are seeing the most growth (India, China, Nam)
  • Next up are Turkey, Poland, Czech Republic, followed by Brazil and Chile
  • Ask Away to you hearts content here: www.expatforum.com

[quote]PimpBot5000 wrote:
jasmincar wrote:

Girls: Hot. Oh so freaking hot. They really take care of themselves. Absolutely the best tasting vaginas you will find anywhere on the planet (I’ve seen most of it, I know). Tend to be attracted to foreigners, but usually far evolved past the “me so horny soldier boy, me love you long time” stereotype. Still, very easy to get laid.

[/quote]
That’s enough for me.
I’ve always wanted to live in Canada, Japan, or South Korea.
Good thread.

I’m from Indiana and have lived in Bangkok since 1992.

[quote]theuofh wrote:

  1. Why did you leave your old state and when? If you feel like sharing. [/quote]

I didn’t have anything going at home; no college and was selling drugs instead of working. I took a 6 week trip to Japan and Thailand. When in Bangkok I met some expats who told me how easy it was to get work teaching English.

I walked into a language school recommended by a friend, told them I had no experience and had no idea how to teach English. They hired me on the spot and had me start the next day.

If you want to teach English there are lots of places that hire. The pay is pretty low. Scuba instructors can find work in the south for part of the year. If you are an engineer, doctor banker etc. you might be able to find something.
Both my wife and I have small retail clothing businesses. We aren’t rich, but live comfortably.

I didn’t speak a word of Thai when I came here. A lot of people here can speak at least a little English, so it’s pretty easy to get around. I’ve visited Japan a few times and think that, for a visitor, communication is much harder than in Thailand. A lot of expats live here for years and never learn Thai.

For the first month or so I stayed at a guesthouse until I could find a place of my own. It’s easy to do in Bangkok. Because of the tourist trade there are lots of cheap places to stay until you get situated.

[quote]milktruck wrote:
how prevalent is English spoken if I were to go out to pick up girls in Tokyo?

I lived in South America and picked up Spanish (fluent) and Portugese (sorta), so Im not the ugly american, but Ive got a friend in Tokyo Ive been meaning to visit for like 3 years and Japanese beyond a few polite phrases is rough for a potential 2 week trip haha.[/quote]

If you go to clubs and bars, you’ll meet a good number of girls who can speak decent English. Looking at the general population of Tokyo though, I’d estimate probably less than 20% of women can speak English. You’ll get a few phrases out of them like “where do you come from?” but it might be difficult to generate more than 5 minutes of conversation.

To OP: expatforum.com is a good site and a google search will net you all sorts of useful forums and articles. I’m thinking of going abroad myself, most prob. South America or Eastern Europe. If you have the $, its a good idea to scout out the countries you’re interested in even if its just a week.