Category Archives: Blogroll

The rise of the travel blogger

I probably have just noticed this, because I am a fully employed person who admittedly travels the world, largely for work and occasionally for fun, but there seem to be a large number of bloggers out there who are engaged full time in travel blogging. And I am finding this slightly fascinating. I am not always able to pay my credit card bills in full due to my taking adventurous work trips to interesting places where I can’t quite get my trips fully funded by my work obligations, but where I decide that it’s a good idea to travel regardless because the opportunities are immense in terms of seeing interesting things and traveling to interesting places.

Clearly, there is a sub-set of the (American, or other “western”) population who agrees with me, that travels to interesting places are a mandatory part of our lives and thus this sort of foreign travel needs to be done regardless of the details of the finances. But the people who have no formal jobs and who are virtual nomads, blogging about their adventures? How do they do this? I am not saying that I would give up my day job if offered the opportunity, but I am still fascinated by this phenomenon because there just seems to be so many people out there on this pathway.

I have never made any attempt to “monetize” my blog, nor have I been the type of person who has seeked blog funding or website revenue. But I am truly interested in the stories of those who have. Some of the travel blogs I’ve read have been sadly full of poor grammar and thus clearly not edited by anyone. It’s not like these are words that will make themselves found in future travel guides without substantial effort. Is this still the new frontier for travel writing? Are these blog posts full of grammatical mistakes going to be the edited versions found in the next Lonely Planet edition? Curious bloggers want to know. And those of us with day jobs who happen to be living abroad are remarkably curious (and perhaps slightly jealous?) about those who have made this a nomadic lifestyle.

Expat Blog links

One of the more visited links on this site is the “Expat Blogs” list, probably because a mini-community has formed whereas some of us in the US-UK group especially tend to “see” each other commenting on the same blogs, commenting on each others’ blogs, and even meeting up in real life (I’ve met three of the “Americans in the UK” on my list.

I’ve just updated the list with a few that I realized were staples in my blog-reader but absent due to my only updating the list every 6 months or so; but here is where I admit that I am not perfect (!) and cannot keep up with the chatter. If you know of a good expat blog, US-UK or otherwise, and particularly if it is something that you comment on and read regularly and think this little community would like, could you please post a link here in the comments section so I can add them accordingly? Thanks!!!

Social Media and the Expat Life

I had a visitor over the summer, right before I left for America, with whom I had a lovely walk in the sunshine and a nice dinner before he succumbed to jetlag and went to bed early, leaving me to pack for my trip. We had an interesting discussion about expat life and the role of social media. I should preface this by saying that he’s an expat several times over, living now in a third country (and continent) from the one in which he was born and another in which he has lived. When it comes to social media and friends “in the computer” I’m a fan, he was not. I rely on my facebook and twitter peeps and bloggy friends to provide me with some structure. Although, as he noted, if the people are all in the computer, are they real people? Do you end up feeling MORE lonely instead of LESS since you don’t have the human connection that comes with “real” people in your life?

It was an interesting question, and one that I have pondered on more than one occasion since that discussion. Do I think of myself as lonely? I obviously have plenty of time to myself, and spend a great deal of that time sitting in front of the computer communicating with strangers. But I’m ready with my rebuttal now, a few months after the fact. Because the people stuck in my computer have, on more than one occasion, transmogrified into real people. In the last six months or so, I have met up with Kat from 3bedroombungalow, Mike from Postcards from Across the Pond (and Pond Parleys) and, most recently, Michelloui from Mid-Atlantic English. All American expats, all living here in the UK, all blogging about our collective experiences. And people who I can now consider friends “in real life” because they have crawled out of the computer and into the restaurants in my neighborhood. Pretty cool, that. So I will keep justifying my hours spent on social media, and thank my lucky stars for the fantastic friends I’ve met through this computer screen.

On the cross-culture divide

It would never occur to me to hate Britain, nor would it occur to me to hate “the British”. Such a concept is actually quite, ahem, foreign to me. But yesterday I did something I have never done before, and sent a comment on this blog to the great spam pile in the sky, for suggesting both of those things (along with the also useful suggestion that I go “home” and spare my work colleagues from having to put up with me. Nice.) Leaving aside the fact that I am home–I have no ties in the US aside from memories, family and friends, as my beloved job, my worldly belongings and my life overall is based here in the UK and has been for several years–it was a really odd thing to have my departure suggested to me by a total stranger. It caused me to stop and think about why it is that it is not terribly likely that someone in the US would hate Brits (in fact, we tend towards the Anglophilic), but yet it’s somehow seemingly perfectly allowable in Europe to generally hate Americans. It also made me very curious as to how I could have hit such a nerve with, what are (in my own head at least) drolly amusing observations about the cross-cultural divide, with no more venom intended than “taking the piss“.

Yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek commentary about a British “stiff upper lip” versus American “venting” seems to have been the trigger for much unpleasant expression, to use a British understatement. There are only four comments listed, as noted the fifth is in comment heaven, and even there in the remaining comments are some interesting thoughts. Perhaps it is because I am from the midwest, but I am the only person I know, friend or family, who has ever been to therapy. That stereotype seems to be borne of an East Coast/West Coast thing, because in the heartland people are more likely to go to church than to a psychiatrist. So the idea that a little bit of American “blowing off steam” is the same as habitual therapy couches, well, it does not resonate with this American. I have, in fact, been open about the fact that it was trying too hard to “fit in” with the “stiff-upper-lip” phenomenon that caused me to bury my personality on first arrival, and I have settled into a medium me–not as forthright as I was in the US, but not completely silent either. And I think this is a good compromise. I don’t think a “stiff upper lip” is always healthy, nor do I believe that saying every thing you think the moment you think it is a good idea in any context, workplace or otherwise.

I suspect that most expats find that there is a compromise position in the end: you retain some of what makes you uniquely “you” (including your heritage and the country of your birth and/or upbringing) and you adopt new pieces of your adopted homeland (like saying “bloody” all the time, or loving how many differently-sized spoons you now own). You become a citizen of the mid-Atlantic, when a US/UK transplant, in that you are never quite one thing or another, and having experienced the adventure, you can’t go back. There’s a recent guest post from Mike of Postcards from Across the Pond that mentions something I’ve also discussed previously (but am not easily finding the link!) that everyone should try this–everyone should live abroad for a while and take a chance to see yourself, your country of birth and your host country in a different light.

I will happily accept any constructive challenges to my opinions, which are, as noted previously, only my off-the-cuff observations on my life here. I am not an investigative reporter, and I doubt I ever will be. Because I live in Britain, the subjects of my musings are more likely to be about what I find to be surprising in Britain, as opposed to my views on the faults and foibles of America. It’s not that I don’t have issues with America–dinner with an American expat tonight revealed that we both love the UK tax system as simple compared with the US, but we both have serious concerns with two-tap sinks for hand-washing. I will continue to cling to little pieces of America when I feel homesick, and delight in the fact that there are other bloggers in my predicament (thanks, Iota, for finding me another Minnesotan in England!) I will not, however, accept the idea that my bemused commenting on the cross-cultural divide is worthy of deportation. And so if that’s all you have to say in response to my thoughts, don’t expect your comments to appear on this blog.