Ersatz Guide to Expat Life

Ersatz is a German word meaning, roughly, a substitute or replacement.  The word came into its own during the First World War when naval blockades of Germany meant that some products were hard to find. People had to develop substitutes.

Over the years I have found that life as an expat means a life of compromise and of finding substitutes.  While this has the potential to be depressing I have found that it can actually be quite fun, particularly if you approach it as a series of challenges.  I answer some questions on life and blogging here.

So here my guide to ersatz living in an expat world, from packing to hospital visits and many things in between.  I hope it helps...

  • Expat life starts with relocation and sometimes, sudden moves to places you never imagined.
  • Expats have to learn to dismantle and rebuild the rituals of life every few years.  When you do get the chance to revist a previous posting the results can be unsettling.
  • It doesn't take long, however, before you realise that you are celebrating anniversaries of your time in post.
  • Red tape - is the predictable nightmare.  The bug bear of all expats.
  • Packing, how to make the nightmare process a little easier.
  • Emergencies, we hope they never happen but how to plan and cope.
  • House hunting for your new expat home.
  • When you get your home you may be lucky enough to be able to get some Household Help.
Daily Life And Celebrations
  • A taste of home, everyone has a delicacy from home they cannot live without and a Food Souvenir recipe that reminds them of a place they have lived or visited.
  • Fruit and vegetables, delicious but deadly?  Depending on your host country you may need to sterilise them before you eat.
  • Easter, a traditional family day in many countries - how to make sure you manage to take your traditions with you.
  • New Year is celebrated in different ways around the world and sometimes  can lead to big changes.  How do you celebrate?
  • Babysitters are a must if you are to make the most of Expat life.
  • Ants are the scourge of many expat homes - it is relatively easy to clear them up - you just need to know how.
  • Expat Life means a lot of travel with kids and shopping for them as well.
  • One of the joys of expat life are the weird and wonderful things you find in different countries.
  • Finding out about life in other countries is part of the fun but be careful when commenting on domestic politics.
Emotional Impact Of Being An Expat
  • Expat life involves regular changes in circumstances.  Expats have to learn to be adaptable.
  • Children grow up fast and are sometimes more aware of world events than they might be at home.  How to help them deal with scary situations.
  • Expat children sometimes find it hard to establish roots, particularly if they have moved from a young age. 
  • Expat friends, friendships are fluid and people move on distressingly regularly.  This does not just affect adults, help your children learn to navigate the turbulent waters of expat friendships. 
  • Avoid making common expat mistakes.
  • Run a mile from 'false friends' and watch out for stereotypes.
  • Modern Technology helps us stay in touch and maintain close bonds with family and friends while abroad.
  • Expat life means that you may end up expanding your family.  Pregnancy in a strange land can be...strange.  Newborn customs differ around the world as well.
  • Family Visits are the best way to make sure people back home understand the ups and downs of your life abroad.
  • Expat life gives many opportunities that might not otherwise come our way.
  • Ennui is the enemy of a successful posting.  How to combat the 'trailing spouse' blues. But sometimes the strangest things get on top of you!
  • As expats we rarely get to revisit our past haunts. But sometimes a chance appears to share them with your children.  Sometimes revisiting places is fun, sometimes it can be deeply unsettling.
  • Being an expat means you have to fly more than normal - adventures and nightmares await.
  • You can help keep yourself mentally healthy by continuing your favourite hobbies in your new land.
Benefits And Travel

Expat life brings much of the world closer to home. Here are some of the places we have enjoyed visiting.
  • We spent 48 hours on a layover in Muscat, Oman.  Much calmer than nearby Dubai.
  • Bishkek is a much overlooked destination.
  • Moscow is a fantastic hub to spend a few days.
  • Sri Lanka is a perfect holiday destination and accessible from almost everywhere.


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