JetSettlers Magazine https://jetsettlersmag.com living life through those who live it Wed, 28 Dec 2011 16:19:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 The Moment I Realized I Live Here! https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/28/the-moment-i-realized-i-live-here/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/28/the-moment-i-realized-i-live-here/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2011 16:00:42 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=963 There is usually a moment when living in a new country that you stop feeling like a visitor and realize I LIVE HERE! This was a lighting strike moment for me. It could be because I live somewhere as well-known as London, and after years of seeing flashes of the city on TV, in the news, […]

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There is usually a moment when living in a new country that you stop feeling like a visitor and realize I LIVE HERE! This was a lighting strike moment for me. It could be because I live somewhere as well-known as London, and after years of seeing flashes of the city on TV, in the news, and on movies, it can seem a bit familiar. While on the other hand, I still had to learn how the familiar bits fit amongst the unfamiliar pieces in my London life.

For me, the I LIVE HERE moment happened after 8 months of being in London, during the Christmas party season. It had been an evening out on the town for a Christmas party of one of the television shows I work on. The party was at a bar in the Farringdon area of London,—an area I knew well by day because I had temped there my first 3 months in London—but I had never been out after dark in that part of town. When the bar closed, plans for where to go next were made, cabs were hailed, and off we went.

Big Ben

The route from east to west lead us along the Thames, past the London Eye, and then, there in the distance, lit up brightly as ever, was Big Ben.  Such a familiar sight, and here I was, part of a Christmas party, whizzing past it at 1:30 a.m. It was in that moment, seeing one of the most iconic images of London from the back of a cab late at night, I thought, I LIVE HERE!  Those in the cab didn’t seem to really notice where we were because it was all part of the norm for them, and now it was for me too.  There was a thrill in the realization, and shivers ran up my arms.

There are more everyday reminders that I am a resident of this new place I now call home, like when being asked for directions (and being able to give them confidently), or when I am on the tube on the way to/from work and  see tourists eagerly checking the tube map above the door at each stop (the map I don’t even glance at any more).  There are thousands of subtle things that when put together give me the I LIVE HERE feeling—having a local [1] to call my own, a favourite spot in the nearest park, knowing where to go to get a great curry, and just feeling like I am in rhythm with life in my new home country.


[1]  A local is reference in England to your closest pub that you frequent regularly/ your neighbourhood pub.

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Shark Dive https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/27/shark-dive/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/27/shark-dive/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2011 03:20:12 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=951 [pullquote align=”left”]Most people associate a trip to Busan with the hot summer sun and lazy days at the beach.[/pullquote]Despite the mercury plummeting below freezing, you can still throw your swim gear into a beach bag and head toward Haeundae. Instead of going directly to the beach to feel the sand between your toes, go only […]

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[pullquote align=”left”]Most people associate a trip to Busan with the hot summer sun and lazy days at the beach.[/pullquote]Despite the mercury plummeting below freezing, you can still throw your swim gear into a beach bag and head toward Haeundae. Instead of going directly to the beach to feel the sand between your toes, go only as far as Busan Aquarium for an experience you won’t soon forget—a  refreshing dip in shark-infested waters.

Shark Attack!

On a cold winter’s day, a few friends and I made the trip, took a dip, and lived to tell the tale. At any given time, the Busan Aquarium is filled with a vast selection of sea creatures. Bright and early Saturday morning, after a big dose of caffeine, hoping not only for energy but bravery as well, we were escorted down behind the scenes of the always bustling aquarium.

We met our dive master and host for the day and learned that the others, who had planned to dive with us, had backed out at the last minute. Chickens! So it was just the three of us diving, plus our instructor, the ringleader. “Lucky us,” we thought, hoping the smaller group would mean a more intimate experience.

We went through a brief introduction, rules, regulations, and an outline of what was about to go down. I have been scuba diving for about 15 years, but no previous experience is needed to do the shark dive. After our briefing, I quickly realized, this wasn’t going to be a typical dive on so many different levels.  With our nerves starting to peak with a mixture of excitement and anxiety, we shed our winter wear and donned wet suits and scuba gear.
One by one, we sank down to the aquarium floor. The strangest sensation right at the start, was diving without fins, a basic necessity when kitted out in so much dive gear. Basically, we dropped down to the bottom (we were heavily weighted) and navigated with a type of hop/jump/step kind of movement. What we did was like a moonwalk, and I would imagine this would be similar to how zero gravity feels.

The maximum depth we hit was 5 meters  inside the aquarium . Keeping our limbs tightly tucked in, we hopped around the shark-infested waters. The aquarium held about a dozen sharks, all way bigger than us. There were nurse sharks, black-tipped sharks, white-tipped sharks, and hammerheads. There were also gigantic groupers (that could’ve swallowed one of my petite 5-foot nothing girlfriends in one swift bite), sea turtles, and stingrays. Swimming amongst the big fish were hundreds of schools of small colorful fish as well. What an adrenaline rush!

Don't let his teeth fool you...

The aquarium has (safely) been doing shark dives for 9 years, so these fish are accustomed to seeing people strolling around their territory. Saying that, though, we were advised to keep all our extremities tucked in closely and, obviously, take any other precautions necessary not to get on the bad side of our fishy friends. For example, if a shark were headed toward me, I was advised to stay put ,and it would go around me like a game of underwater chicken. Yeah, easier said than done when an 8-foot shark is staring you down and headed your way. There is nothing better to test your heart rate than seeing a gnarly-toothed, carnivorous shark coming straight for you.

Live Bait

Our dive time was less than an hour, and for parts of it, we were stationary, absorbing the tranquil world around us. Our dive master had told us ahead of time to check out the aquarium floor for shark’s teeth. Apparently, sharks shed their teeth all the time and can have about 35,000 in one lifetime. They are not attached to the jaw.  They are embedded in their flesh, and when one falls out, like on a conveyor belt, the next one moves into place. Sharks have multiple rows of teeth, too, so the teeth were plentiful along the bottom of the aquarium. They camouflaged really well into the pebbled floor, but we each managed to scoop a handful as souvenirs. So if anyone doubts my bravery, I have proof to show off my courage, like a badge of honor.

Towards the end of the dive, we congregated and surfaced, climbed out, and spent the rest of the day buzzing with adrenaline. The rest of the aquarium is also worth checking out. There were some incredible varieties of fish to look at and fun things to do. All in all, the experience gets an 8 out of 10. (Nines and tens are only awarded for REAL ocean diving.)

So if you find yourself in the vicinity of Busan and with an urge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, try spending the day swimming with sharks; I highly recommend it.

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We’re Back! https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/27/were-back/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/27/were-back/#respond Wed, 28 Dec 2011 02:59:31 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=947 Happy New Year, Jetsettlers! We’re coming back from a wonderful holiday break and can’t wait to share more of your expat stories in 2012. We’d love to hear your feedback on the type of content you’d like to see covered in the upcoming year. We want to solicit stories that you want to read and […]

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Happy New Year, Jetsettlers! We’re coming back from a wonderful holiday break and can’t wait to share more of your expat stories in 2012. We’d love to hear your feedback on the type of content you’d like to see covered in the upcoming year. We want to solicit stories that you want to read and find talented photographers and perspectives that represent you guys. Leave us a comment or send us an email.

We hope you all have found happy trails in 2011, and we thank you for inviting us into your corners of the world.

Peace, wherever you are, on Earth. Goodwill to you and yours.

-Bethany May, editor

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Expatriating….Then and Now https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/14/937/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/14/937/#respond Wed, 14 Dec 2011 22:15:11 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=937 I’m thrilled to be joining all you ‘jet settlers’ today as part of my virtual book tour celebrating the launch of @Home in Dubai… Getting Connected Online and on the ground, but, today’s post is about more than just Dubai. I must say, when I found Bethany and Adam’s site, I felt like there was […]

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I’m thrilled to be joining all you ‘jet settlers’ today as part of my virtual book tour celebrating the launch of @Home in Dubai… Getting Connected Online and on the ground, but, today’s post is about more than just Dubai. I must say, when I found Bethany and Adam’s site, I felt like there was someone who really defined what I was all about (and obviously so many others out there as the following here has grown exponentially in such a short period of time).

Jet Setter vs. Jet Settlers

We’ve all heard the term, jet setters, right? It brings to mind the traveling elite of the world, who jet around, fleetingly visiting exotic places and sipping pink champagne on the beach. Well, us jet settlers prefer to find exotic places to actually put down roots in… really immerse ourselves and get connected.

Combing the Shelves – Online and on the Ground

I’ve been an expat since 1993 and comparing the process of expatriating then and now is an interesting exercise. Looking back almost 20 years, doing the research was a totally different ball game. Whenever we planned to travel somewhere, it meant a trip to the bookstore to comb the shelves for anything you could put your hands on that referenced your destination. Lonely Planet and Fodor’s were always our staples. Now, everything you could possibly need is right at your fingertips, at the click of a mouse. (Although I still like to travel with book in hand and I do have the Lonely Planet guide to Dubai…and Thailand.) The biggest problem with online research is, there’s so much to wade through, and you don’t really know who’s the authority or what information is credible.  You have to read quick and smart and weed out the crap.

The Expat Authorities

The best resource on any country you plan to move to or visit is those who have been there and experienced it first hand.  With all the input I gathered from a wide range of expats I hope that @Home in Dubai will help newcomers really get comfortable in their new home. There are tons of resources and references (including a list of must follow bloggers), case studies, and how-tos to help cut through the red tape. The UAE is a country full of conundrums, and it’s hard to find good, consistent information, which is why I wrote the book in the first place. It’s a fun city, once you get your bearings, so if you’re going, get yourself connected and get out there and explore!

@Home in Dubai is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon at http://amzn.to/vZJKYW and in the Expat Bookshop (www.expatbookshop.com).

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Food for Thought https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/13/food-for-thought/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/13/food-for-thought/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 15:15:55 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=924 [pullquote align=”left”]I am not a particularly picky eater, nor am I particularly adventurous.[/pullquote]I remember reaching an early milestone a few months after arriving in China.  At a business dinner, I was offered, accepted, and ate fish brains.  I ate them with my chop sticks, and although it was slippery, I didn’t even drop them.  It […]

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[pullquote align=”left”]I am not a particularly picky eater, nor am I particularly adventurous.[/pullquote]I remember reaching an early milestone a few months after arriving in China.  At a business dinner, I was offered, accepted, and ate fish brains.  I ate them with my chop sticks, and although it was slippery, I didn’t even drop them.  It wasn’t particularly tasty, but I cannot say that it was bad.

Much food here gets a bad rap because it just isn’t what we would ever consider eating. Yet somehow, without even trying, I am finding that my window of consideration is gradually opening.  Oh sure, I went through the usual reactions upon seeing menus with photos that looked like they were from Biology Experiments Gone Wild!  I now casually flip past the chicken feet, duck head, and bullfrog whatever dishes without even flinching.

I did try to eat some chicken feet soup one night. I figured it would be better to try it on my own with no pressure from customers or from other on-lookers.  I took a spoonful of broth and tried to avoid direct eye contact with the mostly submerged foot.

“Mmm, actually pretty good” I thought, “tastes like chicken!”

I was encouraged enough to grab my chop sticks and go in for the feet. They were slippery.  I wasn’t very good with my chop sticks yet, so it was tough to lift them totally out of broth.  I finally did, unfortunately, and found myself staring at what appeared to be the hand of a three fingered circus dwarf (see photo).

I considered asking the waitress this same question, but I knew I couldn’t pull it off in Chinese. Plus, humor is often the first casualty in a foreign country, so I just sat there looking at it.  I must admit I almost put it back in the bowl, but since having watched a few episodes of Fear Factor, I am of the opinion I can eat anything—just mind over matter.
Don’t ask me why I thought this because I have never met a circus dwarf, much less one with three fingers.  There I was, staring blankly at it, thinking, “How did this little hand get into my chicken feet soup?”

However, no one on the show ever had to eat a three fingered little hand either.  Nevertheless, I was determined.  I raised it slowly towards my mouth, but it slipped from my chop sticks and back into the murk.  I suppose I should have taken this as a sign from the universe, but I reluctantly picked it up again and looked around to make sure there wasn’t a table full of on-lookers, placing bets as to whether I could pull it off.

Nom?

I found myself wondering about the details of the life of whoever used to be attached to the tiny hand.  Maybe he was the first born son of Bulgarian immigrants and was named Lopatar, Skorpid, or Kokichka (that one is fun to say out loud).  Maybe he spoke with a slight accent and parted his hair down the middle using a dab of motor oil to grease it down.  Maybe he ran away at an early age to join the circus seeking fame and fortune but, by some bizarre twist of events, had his hands end up in a bowl of chicken feet soup—in China.

In the end, I couldn’t manage much more than the tiniest of nibbles.

Thinking back on this now, I guess the fish brains were easy in comparison.  Chicken feet soup may not have been the “Greatest Show on Earth,” but it was another interesting dinner in China.

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Jirisan https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/12/jirisan/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/12/jirisan/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2011 03:14:46 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=917 [pullquote align=”left”]Autumn, in all its multi-colored and pleasant-weathered glory, is Korea’s season for getting out and getting into nature.[/pullquote]Koreans use this time of year to enjoy a favorite national pastime, hiking.  Many make pilgrimages to any number of national parks throughout the country, but perhaps the most famous is Jirisan. Located in Korea’s southern region […]

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[pullquote align=”left”]Autumn, in all its multi-colored and pleasant-weathered glory, is Korea’s season for getting out and getting into nature.[/pullquote]Koreans use this time of year to enjoy a favorite national pastime, hiking.  Many make pilgrimages to any number of national parks throughout the country, but perhaps the most famous is Jirisan.

Located in Korea’s southern region and spanning three provinces, Jirisan National Park is the largest in the country. The mountain itself is rooted deeply in Korean history and is considered one of the three legendary mountains, along with Geumgangsan and Hallasan.

Jirisan serves as an astonishing stage for some of Korea’s best sunset performances. Yet, many flock to the mountain for a different reason.  At 1,915 meters above sea level, Jirisan’s Cheonwangbong peak is the highest on mainland South Korea. Its elevation is second only to Jeju Island’s Hallasan and by a mere 35 meters.  There is no better time to stand on the rooftop of Korea than during the autumn season, when the sunsets are rivaled by the foliage. Even considering its grandeur, conquering the highest peak on the mainland is still an achievable feat.
The easiest route begins in the city of Jinju. From there, catch a bus bound for Jungsan-ni at the Jinju Bus Terminal. This sleepy village is in the foothills of Jirisan and only a short walk from the park’s southeast entrance.  There are a number of quaint restaurants and minbaks (an affordable but bare-bones form of accommodation) between where the bus lets you off and your hike begins.

You’re most likely to make it to the peak and back before sunsetif you spend the night in a minbak and set out at sunrise.  I passed the park entrance just as daylight was breaking, along with tours of brightly-clad Koreans. The route from Jungsan-ni Village to Cheonwangbong peak is the shortest to the summit at 5.7 kilometers and, therefore, considerably steep.  However, the scenery and hoards of other hikers kept me motivated throughout the hike. There is a shelter around the midway mark with bathrooms and benches for resting and refueling.

The final 200 meters of the climb to Cheonwangbong peak is unique from other hikes in Korea. There is virtually no trail along the ridge, just a steep ascent. As I made my final steps up to the peak, the view presented itself and truly made my throbbing thighs and weak knees worth it. The engraved letters of the stone marker on Cheonwangbong reads, “The spirit of the Korean people originates from here.” With those words in mind, it was something to stand there among my fellow-hikers and look out over the country I’ve called home from the past two years.

Ahead of schedule and lacking in energy, I stopped off at Beopgyesa Temple during my descent. The temple holds the title of Korea’s highest and is located just meters from the Rotary Shelter at the midway mark. I rested and recuperated while sharing a free meal of bibimbap among monks. Jiri means “a place where the foolish become wise” and the trek to the top is truly one for making you the wiser.

[frame align=”center”][/frame] It should be noted, there are a number of trials leading to Cheonwangbong peak, starting from various points within the national park and ranging in length and difficulty. If time is not an issue, there is also the option of making the journey over multiple days and spending the night in a mountain shelter, which can be reserved from 15 days before your trip on the Korea National Parks Service website.

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Being Shot Doesn’t Hurt….Much https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/06/being-shot-doesnt-hurt-much/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/06/being-shot-doesnt-hurt-much/#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:30:02 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=907 [pullquote align=”left”]I always thought I knew what it was like to be shot.[/pullquote]I had seen enough films. You would look terrified when the bad guys pointed a gun at you, and then you would plead with them not to shoot you. Ignoring you totally, they would smile with an evil grin and shoot. You would […]

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[pullquote align=”left”]I always thought I knew what it was like to be shot.[/pullquote]I had seen enough films. You would look terrified when the bad guys pointed a gun at you, and then you would plead with them not to shoot you. Ignoring you totally, they would smile with an evil grin and shoot. You would fly backwards, clutching the place where you had been shot, and lie on the ground, groan a bit, bleed a lot, and usually die.

It wasn’t like that at all when I was shot.

It is not that the Dominican Republic is particularly dangerous; it is just that they do things a little differently. I blame it on the unavailability of stocking masks. When you are burgled, the chances are you will know your attacker, as everyone knows everyone here. The burglars, of course, don’t want to go to jail. The jails here are pretty gruesome as jails go. If a burglar gets caught in the act of robbing your house, he really has no option but to prevent you from snitching to the police, and so he shoots you.

I am not sure whether they were aiming for my heart and shot too high, or my forehead and shot too low. In any event, when I caught them in the act of robbing the house, I said “Good evening,” as everyone is polite in the DR. The short one said to the tall one, “Give it to her.” I waited for whatever it was they were going to give me, totally unafraid, and then one lifted up his T-shirt, pulled out the gun tucked into the top of his trousers, pointed it at me, and fired.

I saw the gun, and a little spark, and then heard a loud bang, so I turned and ran, in case they shot me. I had no idea I had already been shot—right through my neck. I didn’t fly backwards; it didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel a thing.

My dogs decided it was about time they attacked the guys (like they should have done when the men first broke in). The burglars fired more shots, killing one dog, but that still left four more attacking them, and having run out of bullets, they left. Meanwhile, I was beginning to realize that I had probably been shot somewhere as I felt a tad odd. The bullet had passed through my throat and then gone straight through my right lung. Then, it stuck in my back. I am not sure where else it went, but it was a .22, and I was told later they bounce around a bit once inside you. The air was escaping from my lung, but instead of going out of my mouth or down my nose, it was filling the top half of my body with air. I was slowly blowing up like a balloon. This meant that I couldn’t see as my face got fatter, and my eyes were swelling shut. I quickly tried to use my phone to call for help. Stupidly, I didn’t have my reading glasses with me so couldn’t see any numbers. Note to self: always carry reading glasses in case you are shot.

Bullet in back.

Help finally arrived on foot in the form of 30 or so locals, who tried to call first, 911— no reply; next, the police—whose phone didn’t work because they hadn’t paid the bill; then, an ambulance—but,there were none. I finally made it to the local hospital being carried, then draped over the back of a motorbike, and eventually in a car. It still didn’t hurt; it was just damned hard to breathe.
There followed a tracheotomy. I thought you could do one using a ball point pen casing, making a tiny hole, but for some reason the Dominican doctors decided to slice a four inch gash across my throat, which was a far larger cut than necessary, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, as I still appeared to be dying, I had to go to a bigger and better hospital in the capital. Three hours later, a clapped out ambulance with a broken windshield arrived. The drivers refused to go anywhere until someone paid to fill the ambulance with diesel.

Still no pain, only fuzzy recollections. I think your body must produce all sorts of natural painkillers when you get shot. By the time we arrived at the large hospital, there was no oxygen left in the ambulance. This was very inconvenient because I was unable to breathe on my own. I was rushed into the ER. Unfortunately, before they would start work on me, they insisted on a deposit. At 3:30 a.m., my husband managed to get the requisite cash from an ATM right next to the ER, and then the doctors started to repair me.

The bullet.

To my utter dismay, the first thing they did was to cut off my Dolce and Gabbana top. That hurt far more than being shot. They put chest drains in, and I gradually began to deflate. It actually took over a week before I stopped looking like the Michelin man and all the air in the top half of my body disappeared. Once the chest drains were in, I regained full consciousness, and my body decided to stop producing painkillers. Then it hurt—nine hours after the gunshot.

Twelve days later, I was home. No longer able to work as a scuba diving instructor with the holes in my lung, and courtesy of the botched tracheotomy, I was no longer able to sing karaoke or even speak properly. However, I was still alive.

So don’t believe what you see on the films; it isn’t like that. If the government wants to reduce violent crime in this country, they should start selling stocking masks.

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Excerpt from “Dubai Wives” https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/05/excerpt-from-dubai-wives/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/05/excerpt-from-dubai-wives/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2011 00:58:49 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=902 Enjoy an excerpt from Expat Zvezdana Rashkovich’s first novel, Dubai Wives. Sometimes, a new location helps us find a new look or a new outlook. –Bethany, Jetsettlers Editor There was a phrase coined in Dubai that was perfectly fitting for Jane Andrews. The phrase was, ‘Jumeirah Jane’, the precise name needed to go with this […]

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Enjoy an excerpt from Expat Zvezdana Rashkovich’s first novel, Dubai Wives. Sometimes, a new location helps us find a new look or a new outlook.
Bethany, Jetsettlers Editor

There was a phrase coined in Dubai that was perfectly fitting for Jane Andrews. The phrase was, ‘Jumeirah Jane’, the precise name needed to go with this native to Dubai expression, homegrown in the exclusive neighborhood of Jumeirah by God knows whom. Here was a city where a simple English girl could recreate herself into a gorgeous, skinny, tanned goddess in a matter of months. Of course with the help of a bundle of her husband’s money and the expert hands of Dubai’s best known surgeons, beauticians, hairdressers and stylists, to name a few. As much as Jane wanted to act as if the moniker disturbed her, she could not. There was something totally delicious and decadent about being a ‘Jumeirah Jane’… how perfect! All the Susans and Elizabeths, Donnas, Margarets and Kates, and thousands of other English names, and here she was a plain Jane.
Back home in Brighton Jane was a clandestine slob. She hid it well, but it was obvious to those closest to her, like her husband David. Jane loved David and their son Jake and their Scottish terrier, Kibbles.

However, Jane was always a tad too busy with her many projects to take her appearance seriously. She would rather be volunteering at the old people’s home or talking to her sister for hours on the phone than getting a haircut or having a manicure. She would rather be walking the dog, reading Agatha Christie, or watching the news. Anything else but shopping for clothes. She did not notice that her teeth were a tad yellow, her hair graying, and her face graced with a couple of jowls. It did not worry her that her body was marked with the passage of time in the form of wobbly bits and pieces. However, after moving to Dubai two years ago, an amazing transformation took place in the Andrews’ household. A deeper, darker need had begun to lurk inside Jane’s chubby body. This craving had suddenly burst loose from its confines by the sight of the undulating sand dunes and by the unpredictably stirring whiff of the Arabian Sea.

“Karen how do you manage to stay so fit and groomed?” She had admired loudly, stunned by her new friend’s spotless, wrinkle free face and gravity defying breasts. Karen only laughed, embarrassed. The two of them were lounging by the pool, and as Jane admired her friends’ shiny hair and taut stomach, she noticed her own-chipped nails and hid them under the towel.

She tried to revive previous closeness with David a couple of times. He traveled extensively and frequently because of his job. Jake settled in comfortably in a prestigious Dubai English school, making new friends and quickly adapting to the Dubai teen scene. Jane went about her usual way for the first four months. She hovered above her life, lonely, and confused. Something was coming to the surface inside her and she was not yet sure what it was.

On her fortieth birthday, as she was sipping a glass of wine in front of the TV set with images of the glamorously decked out women of Dubai society, with the ostentatious fashion shows and charity ball attendees parading in front of her eyes, she had a revelation. She wanted to attend the same shows and smile off the pages of society magazines like these attractive women. She wanted to be dressed in a fabulous designer gown, her neck, ears, and arms adorned with sparkling jewelry, laughing confidently at the camera.

She wanted to be pampered and massaged and rubbed by exotic oils, she wanted her body slim and firm again. What was so wrong with wanting to be well dressed, perfectly coiffed and manicured!

It felt bloody liberating realizing this truth. For years, she had told herself that women who followed the media and society in their search of beauty were traitors of all womankind and set bad examples for the younger generations of girls. She had been proud of her refusal to conform to the mainstream. It felt like a definite victory on a personal level. After arriving in Dubai, she had felt even more defiant, contemptuous of these empty headed, shallow Dubaians, forever in pursuit of the next set of fake silk nails, the next facial, the latest miracle moisturizer. Watching and observing her fellow English girls who morphed into Hollywood ‘glamazons’ as soon as they stepped foot on this hot desert soil.

However, things changed over time for Jane. The more she had observed this tanned, trim, manicured and happily lunching Jumeirah crowd, the more she longed to be a part of it.

Dubai Wives
Author: Ginnie Bedggood and Ilana Benady
Paperback: 280 Pages
ISBN-10: 1456772325
ISBN-13: 978-1456772321
Click Here to buy from Amazon.Com

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7 Questions: Kasia from London https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/03/7-questions-kasia-from-london/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/03/7-questions-kasia-from-london/#comments Sat, 03 Dec 2011 18:01:01 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=897 Hi, my name is Kasia, a born and bred Londoner, now living in Suwon (just south of Seoul), South Korea. I teach English as a foreign language at a private language academy. I am a champion eater of biscuits (or cookies if you prefer), a sometime photographer and an occasional tweeter of things that I […]

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@kasia81

Hi, my name is Kasia, a born and bred Londoner, now living in Suwon (just south of Seoul), South Korea. I teach English as a foreign language at a private language academy. I am a champion eater of biscuits (or cookies if you prefer), a sometime photographer and an occasional tweeter of things that I find interesting, amusing and/or outrageous.


1) What made you pack your life into a bag and become an expat?


 

I always knew I wanted two things – to teach and to live abroad. I wasn’t brave enough to do either for a long time, but after doing the same boring old office job for years, I finally decided that it was now or never. That was late 2009 and so in Spring 2010 I moved to South Korea, expecting to stay a year. Turns out a year wasn’t long enough, so after spending Summer at home, I came back to Suwon in August. I have a sneaking suspicion one more year won’t be long enough this time round either.

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2) Can you think of a single moment that occurred while living as an expat, which made you completely change your viewpoint on something you strongly believed in before you became a traveler?


 

When I moved here, I assumed that I would meet a super interesting range of people straight away. I thought that most people I bumped into, was introduced to, worked with, or met would have at least a broadly similar outlook to mine. That is, one of being tolerant, wanting to explore, interested in meeting new people and up for a good time (whatever that entailed.) I realise that that was incredibly naive, as I kept meeting people who mostly had one thing in common with each other – they were all running away from something. I wanted to meet the people who were running towards something, towards new adventures and interesting times – like I was. It took a long time for me to find those people, but once I did, I realised just how lucky I was. I now have such incredible friends here, who, if I had never left the UK, I never would have met. I guess there were a few of these “single moments” – every time I met someone who was so unhappy with themselves they thought fleeing their country would make them happier, not realising they couldn’t (as the cliche has it) run away from themselves.

 


3) Besides the obvious language barrier, what is the scariest aspect of settling in a foreign country?


 

The prospect of not being able to speak Korean didn’t really scare me. I thought I’d take lessons, practise with my Korean co-workers and I’d have my basic Korean down within a few months. Ha! I still can’t read Hangeul, and as far as speaking Korean – well, if the menu doesn’t have pictures, I can’t eat at that restaurant! I guess the life of an expat can be pretty insular – but I am grateful for the friends I have, as the scariest aspect for me was not having a solid group of friends to go eating and drinking with and generally being able to just hang out and have a good time with.

 


4) When people ask you about your experiences as an expat, what’s the one memory you always share?


 

My mum came to visit me last July for my summer holiday. We were at one of the palaces in Seoul, and suddenly four middle-aged Korean women got very excited and started chatting away to each other and pointing – at me. I had no idea what was going on, but without a single word of each other’s language being spoken, I managed to work out what they wanted and gave it to them. Four individual photos using four different cameras – each woman insisted on having her photo taken with me. If this had happened back home, I probably would have been really freaked out, but somehow it seemed an entirely normal request here. (Well, ok, not that normal, but it made me laugh so I obliged.) Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had short, bright red hair? Who knows? I do wonder what they did with those photos and how they explained them to their families once they got home! My mum managed to take a photo of them having their photos taken with me.

 


5) Do you ever find it difficult to connect with the locals of the country? If yes, why? If not, why do you think it’s been fairly easy to connect with them?


 

I have found it difficult to varying degrees. My co-workers are lovely people who are always willing to help with the small things I can’t do as I don’t speak the language. Koreans are generally incredibly friendly, and meeting people at bars, clubs and restaurants is always fun – but the different levels of English they speak (as my Korean is pretty much non-existent) can make things more complicated, as sometimes the people I meet really want to chat, but just don’t have the vocabulary. When I am out with friends who speak more Korean than I do, it can be great when there is a real mix of English to Korean translation, and vice versa, and charades going on. I recently met a girl around my age who wants to improve her English, so I have struck a bargain with her – I will help her, if she helps me learn basic Korean. It’s about time, really!

 


6) What hard to get items do you wish could be overnighted from back home?


 

Oh, how long have you got? It’s mainly the food, if I’m honest. Pesto, definitely. Galaxy chocolate, Frazzles, my mum’s roast chicken. Also, let’s not forget Chinese crispy duck and pancakes. The list is endless, and it’s making me hungry just thinking about it, so let’s stop now.

 


7) Besides being able to live in another part of the world, what has been the greatest benefit of becoming an expat?


 

I have such incredible friends back home that I miss like crazy, but without the friends that I have made here, my life as an expat wouldn’t be nearly as fun. Meeting people from other English speaking countries (though you wouldn’t believe that we do actually speak the same language sometimes!) that I wouldn’t have met any other way has been a brilliant experience.

You can check out more from Kasia on Twitter, @kasia81 and her tumbler http://kasiainkorea.tumblr.com/.

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Adventures in Micro-Finance https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/02/adventures-in-micro-finance/ https://jetsettlersmag.com/2011/12/02/adventures-in-micro-finance/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:35:43 +0000 https://jetsettlersmag.com/?p=892 [pullquote align=”left”]Every year for Tabaski, families gather to celebrate when Abraham offered to sacrifice his son to God in a show of devotion. [/pullquote]In West Africa, families slaughter a ram in celebration; the larger the ram, the better. Around Tabaski season, rams line the roads in herds that easily number in the hundreds, often guarded […]

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[pullquote align=”left”]Every year for Tabaski, families gather to celebrate when Abraham offered to sacrifice his son to God in a show of devotion. [/pullquote]In West Africa, families slaughter a ram in celebration; the larger the ram, the better. Around Tabaski season, rams line the roads in herds that easily number in the hundreds, often guarded by a lone shepherd who is responsible for the care and eventual sale of his peculiar all-male flock. Rams are an investment, and large rams are incredibly expensive, often costing several months’ salary.  Rams are the social equivalent of sports cars; if one owns a well-kept ram, one is perceived as wealthy and privileged.

But this isn’t really a story about Tabaski, it’s an adventure in micro-finance.

The American concepts of savings, loans, and credit rarely apply in the Senegalese setting. As soon as funding is available, purchases are made. Sometimes this is taken to an extreme; even construction is completed in tiny increments. Partially completed homes waiting for the next load of 15 bricks dot neighborhoods. Purchasing holiday goods can be a strain, especially for families consisting of one husband, up to 4 wives, and multiple children.

Around Tabaski this year, some friends and I traveled to Thies, a city near the capital. We took a sept-place, a station wagon in American terms, used to seat seven people and any animals they need to move ranging from chickens to rams. After paying for our ride, a considerably large sum, we hit the road. Within minutes our driver pulled over at a gas station. We waited for the arrival of what turned out to be a his first Tabaski purchase: a large ram. It was promptly stuffed into a rice sack and tied to the top of the car. Within 25 kilometers, we stopped again to purchase a sack of charcoal from a lone man selling a single bag on the side of the road. A few kilometers later, our driver stopped to buy watermelons, then again to buy peanuts, and again to buy kosam (a milk product).  All-in-all, about an hour was added on to our trip due to shopping.

Finally, we arrived, and it turned out the driver and his families lived in Thies. Before we could be dropped off, we had to deliver the holiday meal to his two families, who lived in two separate households in town. We stopped at his first house, and he began unloading the watermelons, peanuts, wrapped meat, charcoal, and other goodies that he had stashed in the cracks between our backpacks and suitcases. He had a sweet wife and several adorable daughters which appeared ecstatic over the arrival of their father and the purchases. Next, we rode across town to meet his other wife and sons who unloaded the shell-shocked ram that had endured the 8 hour trip stuffed in a rice sack. I couldn’t tell who was more overwhelmed- the ram or the teenaged boys who had just received the black and white ram with curled horns and a prominent round nose.

That’s when it hit us: We had just financed a big chunk of this family’s Tabaski meal. Within one day, and with the help of one car of travelers, he had made all of the major purchases expected of him. This was the Senegalese spending model in action—his entire wages vanished, invested in a ram and side dishes. He ensured a protein and nutrient-rich meal for his family and maintained his social standing within the town by bringing back this haul.

We followed our money through an entire spending cycle: from our own pockets to the food on a family’s table. Rarely do we meet the people our money impacts down the line and glimpse into the lives we affect with our purchasing power.  During our adventure in micro-finance, we met the charcoal maker, the melon seller, the peanut picker, and finally, the family that benefited from their father’s wages. Within this system, one is more intimately connected with the people that provide services, food, and products. There is a communal sense to shopping. We introduce our friends to good service providers, and they, in turn, introduce us to their children. We know their homes, and they know ours. And in this way, every person that buys or sells is always on the verge of an adventure in micro-finance.

 

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