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Episode 16: Japan with Mike Martino

Mike Martino went from jazz musician to second degree black belt in karate to software development and then finally being a potter living in Japan for the last 21 years. Martino offers incredible insight into Japanese culture, hilarious language mishaps, and even a romp through the prison system–which turns out to be a little different from the way they do things in the US. Length: 45 minutes

Learn more about Mike Martino at Karatsu Pots.

Subscribe and listen on iTunes    Google Play   RadioPublic   Overcast

SHOW NOTES
01:14 What is Kintsugi?
02:04 Where the hell is Taku, Japan?
04:10 Karatsu? wha?
[05:11] Clay type from the region
[06:02] Gas and wood-fired kilns
[06:29] Why is pine the best for wood kilns?
[07:47] Best method of sleep for stoking fire every 25 minutes for 72 hours
[08:44] The agony of cooling off
[09:16] Who are “the kiln Gods?
[10:13] Software developer vs potter–pros and cons
12:38 Where’s the most badass jazz school in the world?
[14:17] Black belt in karate hits the wall
15:01 New Zealand’s Settlement Index: Turn that frown upside down!
[15:46] Language mishaps: no charge for the cockroach
[19:33] News of the heart
[20:24] Meet the parents
[23:03] Navigating an international marriage
[23:49] Raising bilingual boys
[24:55] 20 days of nonstop fun in a Japanese prison
[34:30] So funny I forgot to laugh: cultural differences in humor
35:12 What is manzai?
35:31 Downtown is Japan’s most influential comedy duo
[36:44] Missing McDonald’s?
[37:55] Change is inevitable
[39:37] Now that I know Japanese, why are you looking at me that way?
41:50 Marginal man theory

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Episode 15: Peace Man – Judson Moore


What do you do when you just can’t help yourself helping other people? We talk with Judson Moore and discuss how to plug in through foreign exchange, Peace Corps, volunteering, how to become a foreign diplomat and more. In our book, nice guys DEFINITELY finish first.

Learn more about Judson at judsonlmoore.com and @judsonlmoore

Listen/Subscribe on     iTunes   |   GooglePlay   |   Overcast   |   RadioPublic

SHOW NOTES

00:48 Hurricane Harvey- Washington Post reports it is the third 500 year flood in three years
02:15 Mexico issues formal statement–No wall-announces solidarity with the American people and send troops and supplies to help with relief efforts in Houston.
[04:11] Marty’s obsession with David Cassidy (clip, see music credit below)
[04:25] Special Report (CBS News clip)
05:05 Mark Morford quote: For all of the Madness….
06:10 Rotary Club Youth Exchange
07:15 Rotary Club International Motto: Service above self
07:20 Judson discusses how he came to know and enroll in the Rotary International Youth Exchange
[09:30] First impressions of Germany to a 17 year old American.
[15:11] Establishing an international network as a teenager.
[15:42] Brazil: the trip that changed his life
[17:18] Epiphany in college Poli Sci- foreign service as a career?
18:14 How the Peace Corps got its start
18:24 The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer (book)
(movie trailer clip: Official Content from Universal Studios Home Entertainment)
19:43 John F. Kennedy speech announcing creation of Peace Corps
21:06 Hellooooo Kyrgyzstan! Wait. Where?
23:22 Judson’s Peace Corps training and communications project
30:15 Kyrgyzmedia.com
[32:00] Judson’s older brother Lew and Hillary Clinton
[36:36] While Young: thoughts on book in progress
37:40 Volunteering at Red Cross
38:35 Mark Morford full quote

I Think I Love You from The Partridge Family Album. Written by Tony Romeo and produced by Wes Farrell, Arista Records (originally released on Bell Records). In 1970, it outsold Let It Be and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

 

 

We love these vintage designs for Peace Corps identity, discovered over at allmyeyes.blogspot.com. –There are many more examples here from the Peace Corps Collection. It’s a great website/source for design fanatics.

1968 Peace Corps advertisement

 

 

 

 

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Summertime

 

One season ends, another begins. We’ll be taking a little time off of production to develop advertising/sponsor partnerships. We’ve cued up our very first episode with Mark Repasky sharing what it’s like to live in Paris and other parts of France. It’s a nice addition to our last episode on Paris with chef David Lebovitz.

 

The new season episode will be posting end of August or first week of September. Sign up below to be notified by email.

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Episode 14: Paris with David Lebovitz

If moving to a foreign country isn’t hard enough already, chef, blogger and cookbook author DAVID LEBOVITZ discusses his disastrous kitchen renovation shortly after moving to Paris in 2004. It’s also a topic covered in his soon to be released book of stories and recipes titled L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. He gives us a better understanding of the French by diving into some of the bigger cultural differences between the French and Americans.

DAVID LEBOVITZ has been a professional cook and baker for most of his life; he spent nearly thirteen years at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse until 1999 to write books. He is the author of six books, including My Paris Kitchen, The Perfect Scoop, and The Sweet Life in Paris. David has been featured in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, the New York Times, and more. He moved to Paris in 2004 and turned davidlebovitz.com into one of the first phenomenally popular food and living blogs. Length: 27 minutes

Follow David on twitter @davidlebovitz
(photo: davidlebovitz.com)

 

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Overcast

Get early access to future episodes by becoming a supporting member of our community on Patreon.

SHOW NOTES

[00:07] Expect the best or assume the worst?
[00:30] Home renovation — French edition!
[02:26] What compels a chef to move to another country?
[02:41] Northern California = France?
[04:01] Why it pays to be “top chef” in all of your projects
[04:47] A look at customer service: American vs French
[06:20] Learning the language: put your ego in check
07:04 Bureaumania and the rise of the French civil service
[08:25] Are you worthy enough to live in our country?
[08:57] US vs France on attitudes regarding assimilation
[10:32] Making friends
[11:18] Cultural misinterpretations of criticism vs discrimination
[12:48] One huge thing the US does really, really well
14:32 White House press clip: MSNBC
[15:43] The French mindset and the adjusting American
[16:57] Foodie paradise
[19:21] Food blogs in 1999: party of 3
[21:17] Advice for those wanting to make cooking a career
23:42 Challenges writing L’Appart
[24:20] Everything is about food

L'appart by David Lebovitz

Preorder on amazon

 

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

 

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? MAKE A DONATION!
We’ve just launched our first fundraising campaign on Patreon and from now on will offer early access to new episodes in Expatreonistan, our new members-only community. You can support us now for as little as $2 a month to help us offset the mountain of expenses incurred to host, produce and market. It takes a village and every little bit is a tremendous help. Click here to make a donation.

WANT TO SHOW US SOME LOVE? WRITE AN ITUNES REVIEW!
You can help us out by writing a short review in iTunes — reviews help us ALOT–it makes us appear higher in the search rankings so people can find us. Don’t know how to do this on iTunes on your mobile or desktop? Check out our easy short tutorial.

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Episode 13 Hong Kong with Jay Dillon

Expat Sandwich: Hong Kong with Jay Dillon

 

Everyone has ideas, but few have the guts to push them to reality. Jay Dillon, founder of a new outdoor furniture startup Yardbird, discusses moving to Hong Kong to oversee manufacturing, while navigating corruption, piracy, and worker conditions in China. We untangle the confusion around the history and politics of Hong Kong, while Jay lays down some cultural reckoning–learning about life amongst the “hongkies.” Length: 35 minutes

Photo: Denys Nevozhai

SHOW NOTES

[01:27] Study abroad
[02:41] Expanding the family business
[03:02] Positioning and testing the market to launch
04:15 The origin of the sweatshop
04:57 Social Responsibility of the Businessman by Howard Bowen
[05:00] The evolution of modern corporate social responsibility
[05:43] Factory working conditions and the Chinese workforce
[07:07] Navigating business culture: corruption
[09:40] What do you do when the factory steals your designs?
10:00 Shanzhai
[11:28] The issue of innovation vs following the rules
12:35 Untangling the complicated history and politics of Hong Kong
[16:30] Masters of infrastructure
18:02 Tax rate: US vs Hong Kong
[19:29] Healthcare
[21:38] Amazing fast track career opportunities for westerners
[23:03] A day in the life of an American entrepreneur in Hong Kong
[25:33] Food for the adventurous
[27:25] Perspectives on personal space
[28:35] Chinese “hillbillies” and evolving social norms
[29:25] Making friends in Hong Kong
30:27 Why is the French expat community the fastest growing in Hong Kong??
Wall Street Journal article
[31:00] Jay’s advice for moving to Hong Kong
32: 56 Closing time–crank up the Kenny G! (iTunes)

Sources: politics and history of Hong Kong
Opium wars in China
Hong Kong returned to China
How government works in Hong Kong

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

Additional links:
Move to Hong Kong
Consulate offices in US
Visas/Immigration

Language
Learn Mandarin
DuoLingo.com

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? MAKE A DONATION!
We’ve just launched our first fundraising campaign on Patreon and from now on will offer early access to new episodes in Expatreonistan, our new members-only community. You can support us now for as little as $2 a month to help us offset the mountain of expenses incurred to host, produce and market. It takes a village and every little bit is a tremendous help. You can cancel or adjust donation size at anytime. Click here to make a donation.

STRAPPED FOR CASH? WRITE AN ITUNES REVIEW!
You can help us out by writing a short review in iTunes — reviews help us ALOT–it makes us appear higher in the search rankings so people can find us. Don’t know how to do this on iTunes on your mobile or desktop? Check out our easy short tutorial.

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Episode 12 Shanghai with Jilli Leonard

Expat Sandwich courtesy Jilli Leonard, Shanghai

Immediately following college, 23 year old Jilli Leonard jumped on an opportunity to teach English as a second language in Shanghai. After 2 years of learning the ropes, she shares wisdom gained on the other side of the world while navigating a life in Shanghai. Our eyes remain wide open at her observations and insight at such a young age.

EPISODE LENGTH 40 min ([39:21]) above photo courtesy Jilli Leonard

You can keep up with Jilli Leonard on Instagram @manelikelions and also be sure to check out her new podcast Where’s the rice?

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Stitcher

Get early access to future episodes by becoming a supporting member of our community on Patreon.

SHOW NOTES

00:14 Changying’s parents awkward outing at Silver Dollar City
02:34 Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward
02:46  Bruce Lee audio clip from Fists of Fury
04:05 The Four Pests campaign
04:30 The Great Chinese Famine
[04:40] China vs US in obesity
05:06 What’s the average education of the average Chinese citizen?
05:58 The English language business in China is on fire
06:10 China Daily’s report on population segment studying English
[06:25] Jilli discusses what it’s like for an American attempting to learn Mandarin
[09:25] What prepares a 23 year old for a move to Shanghai?
[10:45] Initial challenges after making the move
[13:09] Challenges of clothes shopping for Westerners
14:19 What’s a Lane house?
17:01 Air pollution: what’s the deal with those masks?
[19:42] Personal space in China–not so much
20:41 Subway Pushers aka “sardine packers” and where it all began
[21:28] A culture of “saving face”
22:50 Chinese business culture and guanxi
27:30 Mencius’ philosophy on reciprocation between leader and followers
[27:55] What it’s like to experience a protest in China
[30:03] The delicate balance of tradition and modernity
[31:23] A shot of reverse culture shock with a chaser of Walmart
[33:38] Karaoke culture: West vs East
[35:24] Jilli describes how the move to Shanghai has changed her
37:38 Knowing Me Knowing You karaoke

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

JILLI’S PERSONALLY RECOMMENDED LINKS

http://www.mychinavisa.com/ (getting a work visa can be a convoluted process… this service is a dream)

Buying online is the way to go in China. If you can read chinese, https://www.taobao.com/ is your saving grace. If not, http://www.baopals.com/ is an english interface for Taobao.

Smartphone Apps:  Pleco (translation), Alipay (wallet), WeChat (social) and MeiTuan (food delivery) are apps I couldn’t survive a day without in China.

For language learners, https://chinesepod.com/ or any kind of HSK Test prep is the way to go. (HSK is China’s Language Proficiency Test, which you can take at various levels, and looks really good on a resume)

If you want to connect, I dabble in photography–see my photos here  or follow me on Instagram, @manelikelions

Jilli’s Spotify playlist cure-all for feeling overwhelmed and missing home.

Additional links:

Move to China
Chinese Consulate offices in US

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? We’ve just launched our first fundraising campaign on Patreon and from now on will offer early access to new episodes in Expatreonistan, our new members-only community. You can support us now for as little as $2 a month to help us offset the mountain of expenses incurred to host, produce and market. It takes a village and every little bit is a tremendous help. Click here to make a donation. Strapped for cash? You can help out by writing a short review in iTunes — reviews help us alot–it makes us appear higher in the search rankings so people can find us. Don’t know how to do this on iTunes? Check out this short tutorial.

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Episode 011: Antarctica with Joanna Young

Antarctica with Joanna Young

There’s a lot more life going on in Antarctica than one would think, given its reputation for incredibly harsh and frigid conditions. But there’s literally tons of wildlife as well as thousands of scientists gathering from all over the globe to research and share information about climate change. Joanna Young, a PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, shares what it was like to be aboard the inaugural Homeward Bound voyage to Antarctica with 76 other female scientists in 2016. Currently she’s studying how glaciers in Alaska are shrinking and acting as one of the greatest contributors to sea level rise. She’s also the Program lead and co-founder of Girls on Ice Alaska, an Inspiring Girls Expedition. Girls on Ice Alaska is a unique, free, backcountry science program for underserved high school girls, focused on developing young women’s STEM, art, and mountaineering skills, as well as self-confidence. (image © Joanna Young 2016)

EPISODE LENGTH 23 minutes

Learn more about Joanna Young here.

Listen on iTunes  OR   Google Play OR Stitcher

Get early access to future episodes by becoming a supporting member of our community on Patreon.

SHOW NOTES

00:26 Scientific community population in Antarctica
00:39 Typical climate of Antarctica
00:49 Origin of the name of the continent and statistics
02:08 The Antarctic Treaty
[02:47] Meet Joanna Young
04:01 Sarah Palin’s thoughts on predicting the weather ([00:13])
[04:16] Climate change conditions in Alaska
[06:22] Research for PhD
08:12 Homeward Bound program
[11:21] The voyage to Antarctica
11:42 The Drake Passage
[13:10] Keeping a flexible itinerary (due to weather conditions)
[13:35] Moving through sea ice and navigating glaciers
[14:10] Total overwhelm! (in a good way!)
[15:32] Misconceptions of Antarctica
[15:57] Taking the polar plunge!
[18:45] Joanna’s big wish
19:33 Girls on Ice and Inspiring Girls Expeditions
22:38 Alan Grayson remark on C-SPAN regarding climate change denial ([01:09])

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

Additional links:
Joanna Young
Homeward Bound
Girls on Ice

Inspiring Girls Expeditions
Wings Worldquest

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? We’ve just launched our first fundraising campaign on Patreon and from now on will offer early access to new episodes in Expatreonistan, our new members-only community. You can support us now for as little as $2 a month to help us offset the mountain of expenses incurred to host, produce and market. It takes a village and every little bit is a tremendous help. Click here to make a donation. Strapped for cash? You can help out by writing a short review in iTunes — reviews help us alot–it makes us appear higher in the search rankings so people can find us. Don’t know how to do this on iTunes? Check out this short tutorial.

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Episode 010: Culture Shock Flashback

We kick off a new segment, Culture Shock Flashback, which features foreign nationals living in the US describing what it was like for them to move to America. In this episode host Marty Walker takes you way back to the 80s and describes her own experiences of domestic culture shock growing up in Springfield, Missouri and then being abruptly deported to Texas for unruly teenage behavior. Marty’s first foreign friend, Helena, describes what it was like to be a Swede living in Springfield, Missouri thirty years ago during the heyday of televangelists.

Get early access to future episodes by becoming a supporting member of our community on Patreon.

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Stitcher

SHOW NOTES
(Note: Due to the montage format of Culture Shock Flashback future episodes, we will not be offering show notes, but links of interest–MW)

About the image above: Postcard image of garden in White City, Springfield, Missouri. At first I thought this was some obscure historical nickname for Springfield, but I’ve learned that it was part of dozens of amusement parks that sprung up across the country which were called White City. During WWII (baseball was halted during the war) this tract of land was purchased by Assemblies of God and is now the location for the Assemblies of God national headquarters. According to Springfield Library’s website: “A story told by Ralph Harris of the Assemblies of God church is that in 1915 five teenage boys prayed to God to make the two-block area of White City His own because they thought it a place of evil activities. The area had been widely thought of as a place where nice people would not go. In 1945 their prayer was granted when the Assemblies of God purchased the land.”

Yup, that pretty much sums up the part I never liked about Springfield. (image courtesy Springfield Public Library website). But on the other hand, there’s so much more to love–like the infamous Cashew Chicken, spectacular foliage, spending the day on Tablerock Lake, or going to drink a beer with these guys.

Not mentioned in the episode, Springfield is home to the US Federal Medical Prison (they actually have a Facebook page?!!?). When Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt was sent there for psychiatric evaluation in 1984 (for wearing the US flag as a diaper to a court hearing), I remember the community and newspaper were in a huge uproar–it was feared that just the mere presence of Flynt would bring moral decay to our fair city. As a sidenote, in 1988, Flynt won an important Supreme Court decision, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, after being sued by Reverend Jerry Falwell in 1983, over an offensive ad parody in Hustler that suggested that Falwell’s first sexual encounter was with his mother in an out-house. Currently, Flynt refers to himself as a free speech activist.

Underground Ozarks– A great resource for creepy places in and around Springfield, including the infamous albino farm.

Legend of the Albino Farm–Novel by Steve Yates, a Springfield resident and writer, explores the lore of the infamous teen destination of cheap thrills.

Robert Tilton audio- obtained from a Youtube video not officially affiliated with Tilton. Tilton, a minister formerly based in Dallas, was one of the most successful TV evangelists of the 80s. But what goes up, must come down and a minister to the homeless of East Dallas by the name of Ole Anthony, brought down Tilton and other evangelists by exposing their fraudulent practices. This is a great read by Dallas’ WFAA that documents how it all went down.

WANT TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION? We’ve just launched our first fundraising campaign on Patreon and from now on will offer early access to new episodes in Expatreonistan, our new members-only community. You can support us now for as little as $2 a month to help us offset the mountain of expenses incurred to host, produce and market. It takes a village and every little bit is a tremendous help. Click here to make a donation. Strapped for cash? You can help out by writing a short review in iTunes — reviews help us alot–it makes us appear higher in the search rankings so people can find us. Don’t know how to do this on iTunes? Check out this short tutorial.

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Episode 009A: Expatreonistan

A new country awaits you. We kick off a brand new segment, Culture Shock Flashback, which turns the tables by featuring foreign nationals living in the US describing what it was like for them to move to America. Host Marty Walker takes you way back to the 80s and describes her own experiences of domestic culture shock growing up in the Midwest. Marty’s first foreign friend, Helena, describes what it was like to be a Swede living in Springfield, Missouri thirty years ago during the heyday of televangelists.

Get early access to this episode by becoming a supporting member of our community on Patreon.

Episode 009: Belgium with Meredith Bethune

It’s easy to get seduced by glamour shots of sunsets on beaches, luxury hotels, and basically EVERY other person on the planet having much more fun than you. And if you’re a travel writer, then you’ve hit the jackpot, right? Not so fast. Just like any job, there are perks and a few downsides. In this episode, American expat and travel writer Meredith Bethune shares what it’s like to create articles for some of the big names such as Conde Nast, New York Magazine, Travel and Leisure, National Geographic and many others. We get insight on her writing process, how she works with editors, fights writers block and procrastination, all while making her home base in Leuven, Belgium. And when she’s not writing? Satisfying her obsession with Belgian beer.

Learn more about Meredith Bethune at www.meredithbethune.com

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Stitcher

SHOW NOTES

[00:54] Why do so few Americans travel to Europe?
[2:44] What is life like for an expat living in Leuven, Belgium
[3:33] The world’s longest bar?
[4:13] Why do people in Brussels and Wallonia speak French while others speak Dutch?
[5:48] Fear of  travel?– Does such a thing exist?
[7:25] What’s a day in the life of a travel writer?
[9:49] How to get past the blank screen as a writer?
[11:54] Book: Bridge on the Drina
[15:06] French fries vs. Flemish fries– What’s the difference?
[15:54] Belgian chocolate…but who consumes the most per capita?
[16:17] Abbeys, monks, and beer– What do they have in common?
[17:26] Does Belgium have their own version of Nascar?

Meredith’s Beer Recommendations
Dubbel
Triple Karmeliet

Additional Links
Embassy & Consulates of Belgium in the US
Cost of Living in Belgium

Episode 008: Germany with OhGodMyWifeIsGerman.com

We catch up with anonymous blogger OGM — who posts hilarious observations of Germans, odd things his wife says, beer and food reviews and much more at OhGodMyWifeIsGerman.com, which has attracted a massive following. He’s from Portland. She’s from Niedersachson. They married 4 years ago and OGM dives headfirst into a new life in Hannover, Germany. What does he love most about Germany besides Blood Tongue? I’m never bored. Ever. — OGM

Length: 33 minutes

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Stitcher

SHOW NOTES

[02:04] OGM Meets his future German wife
[06:21] Being a teacher in Germany
[07:37] Tiers of schools/students
[10:04] Preparation for the move
[10:52] A trip to the dentist
[14:26] Unusual benefits of knowing a second language
[15:20] Typical day in the life
[15:50] How the blog began
[19:38] German characteristics
[21:25]  Social tips/understanding
[23:08] The coconuts and the peaches
[24:26] Greasing the wheels of business
[25:01] American misperceptions of Germans
[25:50] Beer and meat
[27:53] German weather and suspicion of all things cold
29:30 Book: Prisoners of Geography
[29:58] Political climate

OGM’s other book recommendations

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

OTHER LINKS
Hannover Tourism
German Consulates
Visa guidelines

LANGUAGE
Germanpod101.com
Rocket German

 

Episode 007: Moscow with Thomas Callahan

This week we catch up with American expat Thomas Callahan–a human rights worker turned corporate law attorney who’s been living in Moscow for the last seven years. He provides an enormous amount of insight into what Russians think about Americans, their overall toward the Clintons, vodka, and life under surveillance and an authoritarian regime.

Thomas Callahan practices corporate law in Moscow. He was a funded international justice scholar at Fordham Law in New York and has worked on numerous human rights projects in Moscow as well as in Thailand and Burma.

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play OR Stitcher

SHOW NOTES

00:28 ABC News announcement of FBI investigation of Trump administration and campaign.
01:51 GQ Russia clip of Thomas Callahan describing the American electoral process in Russian
[02:01] Tom discusses Russia’s framing of Trump narrative and the portrayal to its citizens.
[02:54] Recap of transition from Gorbachev to Yeltsin
[04:52] Cynicism towards elections
[05:39] NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
[06:10] Reasons why Clinton is not held in high regard by Russians
06:29 Yeltsin re-election efforts with American spin gurus. Politico, Time
[06:25] “The Bill and Boris Show” common reference to Clinton & Yeltsin’s friendship
07:46 Spinning Boris– a 2003 movie based on a true story
[08:15] Russian/US meddling in elections, surprise of Clinton loss
[09:45] Kitchen table politics, restrictions on expression and protests
[10:45] Government surveillance
[12:01] Dictatorship or Authoritarian?
[13:18] Putin’s increasing restrictions on freedom, Tom as human rights worker keeping an eye on neo-nazis and other hate groups
[14:45] Ban on homosexual propaganda and Russian liability at international human rights tribunals.
[15:32] Human rights worker to corporate lawyer
15:50 Boris Nemtsov asassination
[18:00] Tom discusses reasons for transitioning into corporate law
[19:20] Being a journalist in Moscow
[20:10] Journalist Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe
[20:50] Russian misconceptions of Americans
[21:40] Culture of corruption
[20:10] American misconceptions of Russians
[23:46] The individual vs the group
[25:00] Average pay of worker in Moscow
[25:50] Are Russians cold? Is it harder to make friends?
[27:00] Income inequality
[28:00] Health care, finding a doctor, bribery
[29:21] Finding a place to live and the benefits of speaking Russian
[30:15] Learning Russian
[31:56] What do people do for fun in Moscow?
[33:14] Russian weather
34:00 Vodka
34:48 High level of vodka consumption Euromonitor
[35:19] Regulation of food, quality of food
35:48 Consumption of dill
35:56 Facebook group Dillwatch
[36:09] Russian cuisine, restaurant scene
[37:10] Tom discusses how the move has changed him

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

Additional links

Russian Consulates in US
Cost of living in Moscow
Russian Language

Follow Tom on Instagram @roving_tc

Tom’s recommendations on Russian electronic music:
Pompeya
On-the-Go
Tesla Boy
Simple Symmetry

A Man Too Free Documentary on Boris Nemtsov.(Just released 2017)
Spinning Boris

Episode 006: Cape Town with Brandy Taylor


Considering travel to Africa comprises less than 1% of all international travel by Americans annually, it’s no wonder most of our preconceptions are shaped by TV shows and the media. Brandy Taylor moved to Cape Town last year with her husband Will and their young son. Together they run Khashana Travel, a bespoke safari company. She describes what it’s like for an American to live in the rainbow nation of post-apartheid South Africa and helps dispel some of the myths surrounding what she now calls home. LENGTH: 31 min

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

[00:03] Common misperceptions of Africa
00:14 excerpt: Sally Struthers Christian Children’s Fund Commercial (1987)
[00:39] Influence of television and media
01:06 excerpt: Daktari theme song
01:10 excerpt: Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion movie promo
01:32 excerpt: Born Free theme song:  music by John Barry, and lyrics by Don Black   1966. Sung by Matt Monro.
02:02 NTTO US Citizen Traffic to Overseas Regions, Canada, and Mexico 2016
02:21 Africa facts
02:53 Implementation of apartheid by British rule. Wikipedia
04:04 Nelson Mandela speech after release from prison in Cape Town square 1991.
04:22 The “Born Frees”
[04:46] Cape Town named the best place in the world to visit by both
New York Times[10] and the British Daily Telegraph in 2014
05:05 Brandy meets Will, owner of Khashana Travel
06:50 Work visas and BEE (Black Economic Empowerment)
[08:55] Living in a planned community as a means for social activity
[11:20] A day in the life
12:25 About Khashana Travel
[13:44] Enter baboon
[14:53] Political climate and harmonious spirit of community
15:23 Rainbow nation coined by Desmond Tutu. Wikipedia
[15:39] The main races and languages of South Africa
[17:05] Cape Town’s diverse food and restaurant scene
[18:28] Health care
[20:10] Oddities of daily life
[21:38] Car parks
[22:17] Crimes of opportunity
[23:30] Attitude and engagement towards children
[25:48] Misperceptions of ebola and its affect on tourism
26:01 The true size of Africa
[27:20] Things missed about the US

Learn more about Khashana Travel.

When in Cape Town:
A few of Brandy’s restaurant recommendations

La Colombe
Test Kitchen
The Pot Luck Club
Yeh Dosti Durban Curry

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

Additional links:

Move to South Africa
South Africa Consulate offices in US
FAQs on US-South Africa dual citizenship
Cost of living in Cape Town

Episode 005: New Zealand with Mickey Smith

Mickey Smith is an American artist that has been living in New Zealand since 2011. Being an artist in Kiwi country is a 180 turn from New York City. Mickey describes the ups and downs of living in an idyllic country so far away from the US. Learn more about Mickey Smith’s artwork at www.mickeysmith.com

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

01:18 The New Yorker Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich
01:18 Financial Times Self-sufficient boltholes tempt global super-rich
to New Zealand
[04:22] Idealization of NZ
[05:13] Trial run in NZ
[06:00] Citizenship issues/Dual citizenship
[08:00] Permission to have a one-way airline ticket
09:07 International residential movers and container moving
[11:02] Making friends
[11:54] Adjusting to a slower pace
[12:35] Free healthcare for accident victims
[13:00] Public versus private healthcare
[15:50] A day in the life
[17:15] Growing items that you can’t get in NZ
[18:05] Leaving NY at top of career as an artist
19:17 Settlement Index
[20:39] Figuring out how to plug in to the New Zealand art scene
[21:35] Continuing to show in the US
[21:50] Things that make you feel isolated
[22:21] Airfare is expensive, especially for a family
[22:43] Christmas in New Zealand
[23:38] Time off
[24:10] Violence in America vs. New Zealand
[25:05] The British Shop
[25:22] The American Shop
[26:25] The one item from the US she can’t live without
[27:53] Final music courtesy Aaron Pollock (Mickey’s husband) whose
New Zealand band is QuarterAcreLifestyle. The name of the track
is Inflight from their album Artifacts. Find them here.

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

Additional links:

Move to New Zealand (Official Gov website)
New Zealand Consulate offices in US
How to get US-New Zealand dual citizenship
Cost of living in Auckland

Episode 004: Berlin with artist Adam Raymont

Adam Raymont is an American artist that has been living in Berlin since 2008. Berlin is considered to have the largest contemporary art scene in the world. Adam shares what it’s like to live in a city with an incredibly complex history.

Learn more about Adam Raymont and his artwork here and here.

Interview was conducted while Adam was attending an artist residency at 100W in Corsicana, Texas.

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

[01:30] History refresher: end of WWII in Berlin
02:55 2 excerpts from John F. Kennedy Berlin address (edited for time)
03:36 excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall Speech
[03:59] Berlin’s contemporary art scene explodes
[04:33] Adam’s move to Berlin
[05:21] Effects of the 2008 global financial meltdown
[06:11] Cheap rent and abundant studio space
06:32 Stats for number of artists, galleries, and non-commercial spaces
[07:27] Growing tech sector and gentrification
[08:13] Things Adam misses about living in NYC
[08:44] Citizenship offered to families of victims of religious and other persecution
[10:29] Health insurance
10:52 Artists union in Berlin
[11:48] German language
13:11 Daily life, bureaucracy, and AMTs
[15:06] Preconceptions of Germans and Americans
[17:13] Current feeling of living in Berlin
[18:45] Current political climate
[20:26] Advice for moving abroad
[21:23] How this move has changed Adam
[22:04] Young country vs old country
23:24 excerpt from Donald Trump campaign speech, C-SPAN

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

German Consulates (US)
Visa guidelines

LANGUAGE

Want to learn German? I’m not learning German at the moment but I’m using the following online courses, so it’s the same format, I’m just learning a different language.

Gemanpod101.com I listen to their podcast on my iPhone so I can practice speaking when I’m walking the dog, or doing mundane chores. Here’s why I think it’s great: on their website you get online videos, worksheets, tests, and vocabulary with pronunciation and spelling. The podcast is entertaining as it’s not same old dull “Hello, call a taxi please.” It features conversations in English and German between a German woman, a German man, and an American man that is fluent in German. They are in their 20s or 30s so the conversation is lively and fun. It’s WAAAY more conversational, entertaining and practical. You get the social aspect of the conversation noting different cultural customs. Go to www.germanpod101.com to learn more, sign up to try it out.

Here’s another online language course I am currently trying out (in a different language but same format). Rocket German. It has audio lessons, vocabulary with audio and text. I’m a visual learner so it helps me to SEE the text to understand the pronunciation and vice versa. It also has a voice recorder which is handy so you can check your pronunciation. So far, I’m liking it– and it’s pretty comprehensive. I think it’s helpful to have a variety supplemental learning sources to see what works best for you. It also has a free trial to test drive.

And for simply overall word memorization and vocabulary building I use the free program at DuoLingo.com.

Episode 003: Mexico with Jen Farrell

Surfing. Tacos. Tequila. Is there anything else? Expat Jen Farrell shares the ins and outs of living and slowing down, just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Length: 25 minutes)

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

[01:45] What’s outdoor education?
[02:23] Teaching in Quito, Ecuador
03:18 Teaching in Venezuela during Chavez
[04:08] Teaching in Mexico
[05:03] Getting employer to take care of visa paperwork
[05:25] Bringing a car and a dog into Mexico
[06:13] Cost of living on the coast of Mexico
06:49 Gas and oil theft in Mexico
07:48 Utility billing structure and the very high cost of using air conditioning
[08:16] Adapting to Mexico’s heat and humidity
[09:06] Crime in context
[09:34] Dealing with corrupt police
[11:30] How hard can it be to get internet installed?
[13:16] Daily life on the coast
14:17 BOOK: Barbarian Days by William Finnegan
[15:16] Beaches south of Puerta Vallarta and taking a boat to the Marietta Islands
15:40 Tequila– La Cofradia and Carlos Santana
16:21 Mezcal PHD–what’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?
[18:18] OMG. Smoked Marlin tacos at Tia’s Tacos.
[18:45] Things missed about the United States
[19:41] How living in another country effected her
[20:22] Jen shares hard-earned wisdom living in Mexico
[21:00] What’s next?
[22:21] So…who was the band?

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Mexican Embassy
Visa guidelines

LANGUAGE

Want to learn Spanish? I’m not learning Spanish at the moment but I’m using the following online courses, so it’s the same format, I’m just learning a different language.

Spanishpod101.com I listen to their podcast on my iphone so I can practice speaking when I’m walking the dog, or doing mundane chores. Here’s why I think it’s great: on their website you get online videos, worksheets, tests, and vocabulary with pronunciation and spelling. The podcast is entertaining as it’s not same old dull “Hello, call a taxi please.” It features conversations in english and spanish between a spanish woman, a spanish man, and an american man that is fluent in spanish. They are in their 20s or 30s so the conversation is lively and fun. It’s WAAAY more conversational, entertaining and practical. You get the social aspect of the conversation noting different cultural customs. Go to www.spanishpod101.com to learn more, sign up to try it out.

Here’s another online language course I am currently trying out (in a different language but same format). Rocket Spanish. It has audio lessons, vocabulary with audio and text. I’m a visual learner so it helps me to SEE the text to understand the pronunciation and vice versa. It also has a voice recorder which is handy so you can check your pronunciation. So far, I’m liking it– and it’s pretty comprehensive. I think it’s helpful to have a variety supplemental learning sources to see what works best for you. It also has a free trial to test drive.

And for simply overall word memorization and vocabulary building I use the free program at DuoLingo.com

TEQUILA AND MEZCAL

JEN RECOMMENDS

Wahaka has a great video that documents its artisinal mezcal production process, which is sure to make you appreciate it even more. Check it out Founded by Kenny Flores and Alejandro Santa-Cruz in Austin, Texas, secrets to their production in Mexico has been passed down through five family generations.

For a stellar sipping tequilas try La Cofradia and or Casa Noble (formerly Carlos Santana’s brand).

To learn more about the coastal area near Puerto Vallarta,
check out Jen’s blog.

Mezcal PHD recommends this as a premium sampler.
Wahaka Espadin ($34)
Ilegal Joven ($47)
Marca Negra Espadin ($52).

 

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Episode 002: Ecuador with Catherine Campion

Single. Female. Farm. Rural. Ecuador. One brave gringa. (length: 22 minutes)

 

Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

[00:09] Why Ecuador?
00:43 Internations Survey rankings for Ecuador
[01:26] Catherine arrives in Ecuador for the first time and buys a farm
[01:55] Description of the land and the “food forest”
[02:25] A day in the life
03:14 Volunteer opportunities with WWOOF and the POOSH
[04:16] Challenges with learning language, volunteers and cultural challenges
05:13 Ecuador’s currency collapse of 2000, defaults to the US dollar
[05:25] Cost of living in South America and unexpected expenses
07:13 Ecuador gets hit by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
[07:45] Personal safety
[08:52] Getting around on a bicycle
[09:25] Injured and seeking medical help
[10:25] Single, white female reaches breaking point living in rural Ecuador
[11:00] Machismo
[13:28] Visiting a place before you move there versus simply moving there.
14:54 Canelazo
[15:32] Food
16:58 Alan Watts “The Book”
[18:17] Learning your limits and limitations

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Embassy of Ecuador (US)
Guide to Ecuador’s Visa types

LANGUAGE

Want to learn Spanish? I’m not learning Spanish at the moment but I’m using the following online courses, so it’s the same format, I’m just learning a different language.

Spanishpod101.com I listen to their podcast on my iphone so I can practice speaking when I’m walking the dog, or doing mundane chores. Here’s why I think it’s great: on their website you get online videos, worksheets, tests, and vocabulary with pronunciation and spelling. The podcast is entertaining as it’s not same old dull “Hello, call a taxi please.” It features conversations in english and spanish between a spanish woman, a spanish man, and an american man that is fluent in spanish. They are in their 20s or 30s so the conversation is lively and fun. It’s WAAAY more conversational, entertaining and practical. You get the social aspect of the conversation noting different cultural customs. Go to www.spanishpod101.com to learn more, sign up to try it out.

Here’s another online language course I am currently trying out (in a different language but same format). Rocket Spanish. It has audio lessons, vocabulary with audio and text. I’m a visual learner so it helps me to SEE the text to understand the pronunciation and vice versa. It also has a voice recorder which is handy so you can check your pronunciation. So far, I’m liking it– and it’s pretty comprehensive. I think it’s helpful to have a variety supplemental learning sources to see what works best for you. It also has a free trial to test drive.

And for simply overall word memorization and vocabulary building I use the free program at DuoLingo.com

MUSIC

Check out the Expat Sandwich Spotify playlist for a curated selection of salsa and native Ecuadorian music.

 

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Episode 001: France with Mark Repasky

Lavender field in Provence, France

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Paris, France? American expat Mark Repasky explains “the American Yes and the French No” and shares what it’s like to live in one of the  most visited cities in the world as well as navigating visas, “french rudeness” and other cultural collisions.


Listen on iTunes  OR  Google Play

SHOW NOTES

[00:06] The “American yes” and the “French no”
[02:39] Taking the leap
03:35 Navigating visas, PACS for domestic partnership
[04:26] Difficulty of obtaining a work visa
[04:52] Proving financial sustainability
[05:34] Securing a place to live via the French bank account waltz
[06:56] Proof of residence courtesy EDF bill
[07:37] The importance of having YOUR name on the EDF bill
[09:30] Securing a job
[10:00] Getting out of Paris
[10:30] No place feels like home
[11:07] Feeling out of place
[12:27] Thoughts on learning language
15:25 NBC Nightly News Special Report with Lester Holt
[15:50] Terrorist attacks and French resilience
16:03 music: Si tu n′étais pas là performed by Fréhel, published 1935
18:04 US Healthcare ranking
[18:23] Health care and social programs
19:45 Tourism figures. Rude Parisians? Do You Speak Touriste?
[22:45] What’s the deal with not accepting 20 Euro bills in the south of France?
[23:33] Normalization of little oddities
[24:00] The art of the queue
27:15 Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
[27:55] Things missed about the US
[29:05] Things missed about France
[30:21] The effect of having moved to France
[31:00] Preparation for getting a haircut
[31:30] Parting advice for those wanting to move to another country

NOTE: This episode features the story of one individual’s experience. Experiences of a country and its culture will obviously vary from person to person and it is important to do your own research from a multitude of sources. In addition, immigration rules and regulations are subject to change at a moment’s notice–always check with a country’s official embassy for the latest updates.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Complete guide to French Visa types
French Consulate offices in US
How to get US-France dual citizenship

LANGUAGE

Want to learn French? I highly recommend Alliance Francaise USA. It’s a live classroom and it’s a little intimidating at first because it is mostly immersive except for questions, but you get used to it after the first class. I have found this to be THE best way to really train your EAR, which is a HUGE part of learning a language.

In addition, I’ve used a few different online courses to supplement my live classes. Check out FrenchPod101. I listen to their podcast on my iphone so I can practice speaking when I’m walking the dog, or doing mundane chores. Here’s why I think it’s great: on their website you get online videos, worksheets, tests, and vocabulary with pronunciation and spelling. The podcast is entertaining as it’s not same old dull “Hello, call a taxi please.” It features conversations in english and french between a french woman, a french man, and an american man that is fluent in french. They are in their 20s or 30s so the conversation is lively and fun. It’s WAAAY more conversational, entertaining and practical. You get the social aspect of the conversation noting different cultural customs.

Here’s another online language course I am currently trying out. Rocket French. It has audio lessons, vocabulary with audio and text. I’m a visual learner so it helps me to SEE the text to understand the pronunciation and vice versa. It also has a voice recorder which can check your pronunciation. So far, I’m liking it– it’s pretty comprehensive. I think it’s helpful to have supplemental learning to see what works best for you. It also has a free trial to test drive.

And for simply overall word memorization and vocabulary building I use the free program at DuoLingo.com

MUSIC

Check out the Expat Sandwich Spotify playlist for a curated selection of 60s and 70s French pop.

Expat Sandwich Spotify Playlist France Pop 60s and 70s

and….LOVE LOVE this recent musical discovery:

Les Vilains Chicots website

UN PEU D’EXTRA

If you haven’t tried or heard of La Beurre Bordier, check out this video of France’s most famous hand crafted butter.

TRANSCRIPT

Marty Walker:  You’re listening to the very first episode of Expat Sandwich. I’m Marty Walker.

Mark Repasky: There’s like the American Yes and then there’s the French No. And the American Yes– Whenever anybody asks as sort of a yes or no question we always want to say yes. You know if somebody says “oh, I don’t have anything smaller than a 20 is that ok?” we tend to say yes. In France, it’s completely the opposite. They have what’s called the French no. So even if it’s OK they’re going to say no. And somebody told me that you have to get them to say no three times and then they’ll change it to a yes.

Marty Walker: At the time of this recording, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Hours before the election results were called, Canada’s immigration website crashed due to a massive surge in web traffic. Americans on both sides are trying to figure out how to move forward in a deeply divided country. But it’s not just Americans thinking about moving. British citizens are wondering how Brexit will play out for them, while millions of Syrians have fled their war torn country to seek peace in another land. At the same time the threat of terrorism is causing countries across the globe to tighten their borders. So it’s always good to have a plan B, right? Many of us are thinking about this a little more in depth, you know, how hard would it be to live in another country. Well there’s a ton of information about visas and immigration policy out on the internet. But that’s not what we’re really about. Expat Sandwich is where cultures collide. You’ll hear personal stories from folks that have taken the leap, for whatever reasons– school, job, politics– even a new spouse. They share their stories on the best, the weirdest, and the worst of living abroad.

Mark Repasky: So I’m Mark Repasky. I’m an expat. I’ve been living in Paris for the past four and a half years now.

Mark Repasky:  I wasn’t somebody who went to study abroad in college so I feel like I had always been missing that sort of experience.

Mark Repasky: Four years ago my partner had been studying in France and we got to the point where we needed to decide whether he was going to come back to the States or whether we were going to try to make it go for it abroad. And my career at the time, I was working in journalism. I was a television reporter and kind of thought well if I ever want to do this now is the time. So I kind of said “all right, I’m going to go for it.” And if if nothing else kind of live here and then go back to the States and kind of get our careers going. But as things turned out I ended up getting a contract here for a long term position and we kind of stayed.

Marty Walker:  It turns out there are a lot of types of visas.

Mark Repasky: You know a lot of people come over here, their job brings them over here. Matt’s case was a little bit different because he came over as a student and got a student visa and then was hired by a French company and his company sort of helped him through the whole visa process. I came over on a student visa and then we ended up doing what’s called PACS which was a domestic partnership over here so that I could then attach myself to Matt’s visa.

Mark Repasky: Living abroad you hear all of these different experiences and especially in France. You know people coming over in different ways you can get a visa to live here but that doesn’t necessarily give you working rights and you can also sort of get a visa with working rights. But that’s a little more difficult because of the job market here. Unemployment is so high here they’re very reluctant to give working rights to somebody that’s not a French national. They’re afraid you’re going to ask to be put on the Social Security system over here having never worked. But if you can show that you have enough money in savings to be sort of self-sustainable, they’ll be much more lenient with letting you in. What that won’t do though is give you working rights or give you the opportunity to come in here and find a job.

Marty Walker:  You know, it’s almost impressive how difficult they make moving here. It’s like some never ending waltz.

Mark Repasky:  There are the rentals, like even the long term rentals are geared towards people that are going to be staying here for a shorter time, you know maybe like a couple of months or a year. But if you’re actually looking to rent an apartment you need to have a French bank account. And that’s difficult because in order to get a French bank account, you need to have a French job, and in order to get a French job you need to have a French address.

Mark Repasky: So it’s kind of like this cycle that you need to have one piece but you can’t get that piece unless you have the others. It’s kind of a game in a way that you have to play. One exception to that is if you know somebody who has a French bank account they can recommend you to a bank and then you can get a bank account that way.

Marty Walker: So you know how in the U.S. when a company or institution ask for proof of address? You can give them a recent bank statement or a credit card statement– almost any kind of bill and you’re good to go–no questions asked right. Well in France, uh, not so much.

Mark Repasky: Here in France, you need to have an EDF bill, which is the gas and electric company. So that is the only thing that they accept as a certified proof of address, even if you have your residency card that has your address on it. They won’t accept that as a proof of address, they’ll say oh we need to have your EDF bill.

Marty Walker:  So if you’re a student or you find yourself in a roommate situation, Mark has this insanely valuable piece of advice for you.

Mark Repasky: And so if you’re just kind of moving over here and you decide “oh I’m going to get a get a room with somebody that’s already over here– rent a room for a long term” and you start thinking “OK now I sort of want to establish residency here.” And your name’s not on that gas bill– not on the EDF bill, all of your time here has been in vain because they’re not going to recognize that you are resident here because your name wasn’t on the gas bill. And that’s something that happens with a lot of students– people that come over here for three months to study abroad and say “oh you know what afterwards I want to live in Paris. It should be pretty easy since I already have the visa and I’ve been established here.” But France wouldn’t necessarily recognize that they’ve been in France all that time unless they have that piece of paper.

Marty Walker: You know how sometimes the really big things in life turn out to be not so big or you know not as glamorous as we had thought. Reality tends to have this funny way of colliding with imagination.

Mark Repasky:  Some of the things I thought initially would be– you know, that I would learn the language quickly, that I would be able to get a job, and that I would be able to sort of integrate into French life.

Mark Repasky: And none of those three things happened the way that I thought they would. You know, I think the language thing –language takes time it’s kind of a work of art learning the language. Every year I feel like my French is getting better and better but it’s still not where I thought it would be. It’s still not that great.

Mark Repasky: Getting getting a job was sort of another challenge you know. Originally I was looking for jobs in journalism. And those are tough to come by especially full time jobs in a country where you don’t speak the language. And I thought there would be opportunities here. But there weren’t so I ended up looking for another line of work, and that’s how I ended up working in travel and tourism industry leading bike trips and hiking trips around France and Europe. I’ve always said I don’t know if I would have stayed in Paris as long as I have if it wasn’t for being able to get out of Paris and get into the French countryside and just other parts of Europe, because as much as I like Paris there’s something about having the proximity to explore all of these other amazing places that really, for me, it makes living here totally worthwhile.

Mark Repasky:  One of the challenges I feel as an expat is that you sort of lose a sense of home. France doesn’t feel like home. But when I go back to the States that doesn’t quite feel like home either. And it’s a real eye opening experience in one way but it’s also kind of–it’s a challenge because you feel like both places are a part of you. If that makes sense. One of the other things I was thinking about was just it can be difficult being an expat and it ties in to the same thing because when you’re living in a foreign country, you still sometimes feel out of place. And one of the ways that I see that now, even being over here for four and a half years, is when you’re meeting friends. It’s difficult to make friends with the locals. Or to have those types of friendships that you would have if you were French. There’s just sort of a cultural barrie–you can still have friendships but it’s not the same thing. Making friends with expats is great but it’s also a challenge because of the expat life. A lot of times people are moving around. They’ll be here for a kind of a set period. So if your time frame here doesn’t line up with theirs, you might only be in the same city or that proximity for a short period of time.

Mark Repasky:  One of my best friends who is French who I met here is somebody that I do a language exchange with and we spend 30 minutes talking in French and 30 minutes talking in English every week. And over a couple of years we’ve sort of developed this friendship but it’s been based on the desire to help each other with language. When you’re starting out, when you’re learning a language the first time, when I was learning French I think the classroom really helped. I sort of just needed to build up my vocabulary, I needed to learn how to conjugate verbs. But when you are having a conversation with somebody that’s when you’re really sort of putting all of that stuff you learned in the classroom into real practice and you know I had a big problem I think just with with confidence when it came to French. I was afraid of saying something wrong so I wouldn’t say something. And that took probably at least 18 months to two years to kind of break through and say “Okay, I know my French isn’t perfect I know it’s not anywhere near perfect but if I want to get better I need to start–just talking. And if people correct me or if they say they can’t understand me then I’ll just have to get through that. And when you have that sort of confidence in that–when you change and you just allow yourself to speak, you sort of open up the possibility of getting better. I think going out into less metropolitan areas in France, like the countryside or into parts of Provence or into parts of Brittany/Normandy where I was forced to use French a little bit more than I was in Paris was really helpful. In Paris, people speak English or they have some English. So they’re more-they’ll use their English more readily. Whereas when you go out into the country, people don’t speak English as as much or they might not have any sort of English background. I’m just trying to think when I started coming over here eight years ago, like nothing, nothing at all was in English. It’s becoming much more common especially with sort of the next generation,like Millennials. I think they grew up learning English in school and they sort of recognized it as a more international language because if you come over here from Italy you’re using English. You know, if you come over here from the Netherlands, you’re using English. It’s sort of the language that connects all of Europe as well so it’s not just an American thing. It’s really sort of the international thing.

NBC Audio: We’re coming on the air to tell you about a situation unfolding right now in Paris where there have been a number of apparent attacks. Police are calling them incidents involving (fade) .

Marty Walker:  France has tragically become the target for numerous terrorist attacks over the last couple of years. I asked Mark to weigh in on how terrorism is affecting French society as well as his own security.

Mark Repasky: [00:15:47] You know, my chances of being involved in a mass shooting in the States are probably higher than being involved in a terrorist attack here in France.

Mark Repasky:  I think what’s happening in France right now is kind of scary. But I think,you know I’ve really been impressed by sort of the resilience of the French when stuff like this happens– how they’re able to kind of get back to daily life and how after the attacks in November, there was this whole movement to go back out on the terraces. And they tried to close Paris down the next night and Parisians said –no, like we’re not going to let this affect the way that we live our lives we’re going to go back out on the terraces and show these people that we’re not afraid or that we’re not scared. And I really sort of admire that resilience to be able to do that so quickly. And the same thing happened the previous January after the Charlie Hebdo attacks when there was this Je Suis Charlie movement. When I was talking with Parisians about that or just talking with my friends, there was kind of the sense like Charlie Hebdo was not a magazine that people particularly agreed with or were in line with or respected, but it was this idea of the freedom to express yourself- the freedom of speech that they felt came under attack in that January attack. And there was the Je Suis Charlie movement just saying–you know this might not be what we agree with. We don’t agree with what the magazine has done or the types of cartoons that they publish. But it’s bigger than that. And we’re going to be with them and be in solidarity with them because of a larger ideal or larger concept.

Marty Walker: If you’re like most Americans you’re acutely aware that the health care system is badly broken according to a recent article in Time magazine, the U.S. ranks worst among 11 wealthy nations in terms of efficiency, equity and outcomes, despite having the world’s most expensive health care system.

Mark Repasky:  I mean I have to say, man it’s nice to have health care and not worry about it and not worry about medical procedures or being bankrupted by an accident or an illness. You know, I’ve had really good experiences with the French health care system. There are really good social programs here. And I think that there is an idea in France that everybody sort of deserves a certain quality of life. A little bit earlier I was talking about how I didn’t necessarily recognize the differences between kind of French culture and American culture. And one of the things that I don’t think I fully recognized was still how socialist France is when it comes to ideas like social services and making sure that there’s education for all and that education is affordable and health care for all and that that health care is affordable. And I– you see both ends of it here. You see that it makes it really hard for businesses to add jobs because of the requirements. But you also see that French citizens have this quality of life and they don’t have to worry about things that we worry about in the States.

Marty Walker:  Not surprising, Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. In fact, Paris’ Office of Tourism reported 36.5 million tourists came to the city of light in 2016. As Americans of a certain age, we’ve all heard the stories about the rude French waiter. So much so that it has just become cliche. But it’s interesting to note that recently in 2013, the Paris Tourist Board and Chamber of Commerce launched a citywide campaign to educate Parisian businesses. It’s called “Do You Speak Touriste?” It’s designed for those in the service sector so they can better understand foreigner’s customs and expectations. There’s a brochure which is entertaining and enlightening in understanding how Parisians view foreigners. For example, Americans are described as “enthusiastic and demanding and eat dinner earlier and much faster.” The Chinese are considered serial shoppers while Spaniards eat absurdly late. I asked Mark to provide more context and insight around the reputation of rudeness.

Mark Repasky: If somebody asks me about “oh do you think Parisians are rude.” My first response will typically be– well, not any more than New Yorkers. And it’s just something, I think, when you live in a large city that is so heavily populated and the population concentration is so high, you sort of create your own space and you lose some of those common everyday pleasantries, like, looking people in the eye or you know, saying saying hi or hello. And you become a little more abrasive maybe. And I think that has more to do with it than Parisians being rude. One thing that I’ve noticed living over here now is something that I really like. And it’s how the French are very polite and where I notice it is when you’re getting on a bus, you have to say bonjour or hello to the bus driver when you put your ticket in. There’s no way getting around it. Or when you’re paying at a cash register, you know it’s not just saying oh thanks– you really have to say thank you or have a nice day or goodbye–there’s sort of these extra pleasantries that they really expect from people. And you know that may be part of it too– as Americans or just foreigners people might not recognize that. And if you don’t do some of those common pleasantries you might get a rude look or something and maybe that plays into that idea.

Marty Walker: Last summer when I was hiking with Mark in the south of France, I kept getting into this odd issue. Every time I wanted to buy something small, like a Coke or a pack of Band-Aids, I’d hand the cashier at €20 bill. And they’d shake their head and ask for a smaller bill or change. The onus would be on me. I either had to find a bank to make change or buy much more from the shopkeeper so they would take my bill or scrounge it up from my friends which never worked because they were hoarding their small bills and change for the very same reason.

Mark Repasky: I don’t know– isn’t that– of course like what do the ATMs give you? They give you 50 euro. You’re lucky if you can get 20.

Mark Repasky: When you move over here, those little things that you notice all the time when you first come– they slowly start to become normal. There’s like this normalization period where, because I remember that was the same same type of thing. I was super reluctant or to pay with like a large bill and I was really nervous about you know are they are they going to take my 20 for 4 Euro sandwich. And now, now I don’t even think about it. France falls, it sort of falls like between Southern Europe like Italy, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to board a plane in Italy but it can be a really chaotic experience. I hate to generalize or I don’t want to be seen as being somebody who has all these stereotypes, but there’s like no line and it’s just kind of a blob that moves. And then to the north. you know in England and even the Scandinavian countries and in Germany of course, there’s like this very precise line and idea of order. And France kind of falls somewhere in the middle. And I remember when I first moved here. If you’re not paying attention when you’re in a line people will notice and they’ll cut in front of you. So one of the things I learned at the beginning was you always have to be paying attention in line. And then you kind of have to stick close to the person in front of you and you’re probably if somebody is going to cut you off or cut you in line it’s probably going to be like a little old French woman. And how do you handle that? Like what are you supposed to do, right? Like are you supposed to be like “no, go to the back of the line” or do you just kind of let her do it? It’s a very confusing thing for other cultures I think.

Mark Repasky:  It’s like being at a bar you’re trying to get the bartender attention and you you know there’s kind of a sense of line or order but there’s also not really and you just have to be hyper aware of, I was here before that person. I still worry a lot at a French market,when it’s really crowded and people would just kind of go up to the counter and sometimes there’s not a good sense of line or order. So you kind of have to mentally take note of who came in front of you and who came behind you. And if somebody starts to kind of cut in front of you and try to get service before, you because, that’s pretty common– they’ll do that. You have to defend yourself like “no, I was here first.” Nine times out of 10 they’ll totally be like “Okay yeah, no problem. You were here first. Okay.”

Marty Walker: You know, I’m always interested to know what books expats are reading. Some read history or historical novels to get a better sense or understanding of culture and place, while others are finding comfort in reading fiction, which can serve as a needed respite from the daily struggles of being a foreigner.

Mark Repasky:  I just downloaded a book I’ve been trying to read forever is All the Light You Cannot See. It’s a book that takes place in Saint-Malo, which is in Brittany during World War II. And it’s something that as I’ve worked in Brittany and have had guests come to Saint-Malo, they have all said “oh, have you read this have you read this have this read that have you read this and I keep having to say no. So I finally downloaded it and that’s what I’m starting right now.

Marty Walker:  When expats are asked what they miss the most about their native country, it often comes down to three things: Food, family and the ease of daily living.

Mark Repasky:  It’s funny, like the things that you miss. We subscribed to French Vanity Fair a couple of years ago but it’s just not the same. I mean it’s in French so it just takes so much longer to read. When I came over here in 2012, anytime I went back to the States my suitcase would be full of all of these things that I would bring back. And usually it would be like toothpaste and deodorant and English magazines stuff from Trader Joe’s and, now, I’ve either found the French equivalent or I don’t even care. There are very few things that I would say I really miss. The biggest one is probably Mexican food though. Like the first thing I usually do when I land in the States is go get Mexican food.

Marty Walker: I asked Mark what he would miss if he had to leave France and move back to the United States.

Mark Repasky: Oh my gosh. The bread. The pastries. And I know that sounds cliche but just having fresh bread around the corner or the baguettes. The food would definitely be a big big part of it. The cheese. The fish. The wine. Definitely all those things.

Mark Repasky: France one of the things I have learned about it is that it is just incredibly different in each region. I don’t know if I was expecting that but it’s one of the things I really love. Or one of the reasons I really love exploring France is to see both those differences and you see it kind of in the food, you see it in the culture. You see it in the buildings but it’s a pretty incredible country that way.

Marty Walker: [00:30:05] One of the byproducts of leaving your native country is that it seems to accelerate personal growth. It’s something that’s difficult to explain to people who have never traveled or who’ve never left their native country for long periods of time.

Mark Repasky: It’s made me a more adaptable person for sure. And to be able to not worry about the small things. I think it’s given me a sense of how to how to be in the moment and live in the moment better. It’s sort of broken me out of a routine and sort of a day to day life and having to struggle everyday especially when you’re new. I remember how exhausting that was to kind of wake up and be in an unfamiliar place, and, something as trivial as going to get a haircut became a challenge that I had to spend the entire week thinking about– “oh do I have the vocabulary, like do I have to make an appointment, what sort of place am I going to go to? How am I going to find the right person?” And then just going in and doing it. But, when you’re done, then you have this sense of accomplishment that is, it’s pretty amazing.

Marty Walker: And for those of you who are thinking about making the leap, Mark leaves us with a little bit of advice.

Mark Repasky: I think it’s really difficult to have the experience that you think you’re going to have. There’s always going to be surprises along the way. And the best way is just to kind of take them as they come and figure out how to deal with them. You know, do your planning but also be prepared for things to go in a different direction or not as expected. And that’s part of the challenge. But it’s also part of the fun of living in a different culture, living where things are less familiar.

Marty Walker: That’s going to wrap it up for us. Check out the show notes on our website at expatsandwich.com.

Marty Walker: I’d like to thank everyone that has helped out with the initial launch of our Patreon campaign so far. You can show your appreciation by supporting the show and making a small donation at Patreon. You can donate as little as two dollars a month or a million dollars a month. It is totally up to you. A special thanks to Louise Walker, Tim Hurst, Jay Shinn and @HonorableHusband. Thanks for your generous support. And if you have a minute we’d love it if you can leave us a short review on iTunes. That’s how you can give us a boost in the iTunes rankings so more people can discover us. And as always many many thanks for listening. We really appreciate you.

Expat Sandwich is produced by Marty Walker.

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