Friday, February 24, 2012

Becoming an expat

Every year thouands of people chose to leave their home countries and become expats.  There are many reasons for this, the most common being work, family and dreams of a better life.  These are the positive things to expatriate for, but sometimes people do not have a choice to expatriate and may go due to expulsion or persecution. 

Becoming an expat is not a decision to be taken lightly, to move to another country is expensive and can be difficult.  There are many issues which need to be considered, housing, schooling (if you have children), transport and most importantly work.  If you are in a situation, where you need to find work to support yourself, much research must be done on this, before you make your decision, especially if you are going to a non-native speaking country.  Also if you are considering to open or start a business, be aware of the potential hurdles and how long it may take to get everything in place.  Other countries do not necessarily work on the same time scales that you are used to! 

In times like these where economies and therefore the people are suffering, to move to another place can be very appealing.  And historically in these difficult times, expatriation will rise as people try to find better conditions.  But on the downside, people can be ‘seduced’ by thinking the ‘grass is greener’.  In this case, you can never do too much research about the living and working conditions, but in these changing times, this cannot be relied on.

To become an expat takes a certain mindset, an adventurous spirit, someone who is open to new cultures and surroundings.  Those who go thinking life will be the same are the ones who end up hating their new life and eventually returning to their old life and country.  It is human nature to stick with what you know, and often you will find expats sticking with their own kind, creating their own communities within their new country.  This is not always a good thing, and kind of defeats the purpose of being an expat!    

Before becoming an expat, think carefully about why you want to do it, is it for the right reasons, do you really know what you are getting yourself into!  Times are hard, and emigrating can seem like a ‘sunny’ option, but it does not always work out like that.  I know!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Gallery: Landscapes

This week's theme on the Gallery is Landscapes

Living in the East Algarve, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some beautiful landscapes along the coast.  We are situated on the Ria Formosa natural park, giving us some amazing landscapes and stunning beaches that are only accessible by boat or on foot at low tide with beautiful white sands and mostly calm waters.

And on a clear day I can see all the way to the Spanish border (to the left of the photo), some 15 miles away from up in the hills.  

Not bad I think!  Come and see the others in the Gallery this week

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carnival day, let's party!

Today here in Portugal is Carnival Day!  All over the country, there are several parades and events.  Down here in the Algarve our big one is in Loule, but they also have them in Torres Vedres and Lisbon amongst others.  Every year thousands of people attend these parades which usually run all over the weekend, but today, Tuesday is the proper day to celebrate.  Loule this year is expecting 60,000 visitors over the period!

The tradition of Carnival is practiced in mainly catholic countries to mark the beginning of lent or six weeks before Easter.  People would have a big party and feast themselves on rich foods before they gave it up for lent.  The Brazilian carnival in Rio de Janeiro, is the biggest in the world.  Each carnival is slightly different but generally involve bright, exotic costumes, masks, dancing and music.  They also have themed floats and cars.

This year with the crisis, many areas have reduced the funding for the event but will still put on a great show. It also means most things are closed and many people take the day off, despite what the Government says.


Friday, February 17, 2012

This annoys me about Portugal

So Portugal is in big trouble financially, with Troika in place, things are tough.  One of the measures they are using to increase productivity is to get rid of some of the national holidays.  Here in portugal, they have lots of public holidays, I can never remember exactly how many but there are a lot.  So they are in the process of getting rid of four of them.  But not only do they have these public holidays, but they have extra days such as now, Carnival, although not an official public holiday, most businesses and public operations close for two days. But what is even worse is the 'ponte' (meaning bridge in translation) so before or sometimes after depending on what day the holiday falls on, they give an extra half or full day.  Many private companies will give a friday if they holiday falls on thursday and so on.  But the government is also in the process of cancelling these 'pontes'.

However, what has bugged me, is that about 3 weeks ago, the Prime minister said there was to be no 'ponte' given for Carnival this year.  Therefore companies were supposed to continue as normal, no closures etc.  However, it appears that no-one has taken heed of this, even to the point that my daughter's public school, closes at lunchtime TODAY and stay closed for THREE days next week, not even the normal two for carnival period.  And yet, who will pay for this lack of productivity, closures, the government.  Now I understand that local governments have the power to decide how to spend the little money they have, but it does just make me wonder WHY?  And maybe understand why Portugal is in the state it is.  Get to work people, you have another 14 holidays to come this year!

I apologise if I sound like a 'slave driver' but there has to be limits, why should you have an extra half a day for a holiday which is taking place next week, and even so it is not an official holiday, although everyone treats it like one.
I also apologise if I have any of my details wrong, this is just my opinion and view of things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The difficulty of teaching life lessons

As a conscientious parent, you work hard to instill good values in your children and bring them up to be good people.  I think everyone has slightly different values and so you bring your children up along the lines that you believe are correct.  Some things of course always remain, hopefully we all want our children to become kind, hard-working, honest people to name a few.  It is not always easy to know exactly how to teach these values to our children, especially when they are young and things can be misunderstood or misinterpreted by a young child.

Values I think is important for me to teach my children is humility, empathy and to know the value of things.  I dont think I am hugely materialistic, (or maybe I am) but I have a habit which drives my husband to annoyance is that when my oldest ask me, for instance, about a large number on a calculator or about an item, I refer to it in a monetary sense.  Now, I know this is probably wrong and teaching her to be materialistic to a degree but it is something that I just do without thinking, and it wasnt until he pointed it out to me that I realised I did it.  I was brought up to save money, to value items.  My parents financially were well but I didnt not get big, expensive presents on my birthdays and christmas, as some of my other friends did.  So somehow it seems the message got a bit messed up in my brain and I now look at things with a monetary view, except I truly appreciate the value of money, nowadays more than ever!  So in this way, as I am trying to teach my daughter the value of things, I am not doing it in a healthy way.

Also in this way, as I want my children to appreciate the value of things, I want them to appreciate what they have and understand how lucky they are, that there are people who dont have all that we do.  To teach them humility.  One of my pet hates in life is spoilt people, especially children, I feel sorry for these children, whose parents have too much money and too little interest that they throw money and gifts and gadgets at their children.  Of course, every parent want to give their children what they want, but there has to be limits, right?  My daughter is always asking for things, as probably a lot of children do, and it drives me crazy.  We dont have a lot of money and she has so much stuff already, that it annoys me that she is not happy and always wants more.  So I try to explain to her how fortunate she is to have all that she has and that she should be happy with what she has.  And then I was thinking about this lesson, I was trying to teach, probably unsuccessfully as we have had this conversation many a time.  And it occurred to me, am I teaching her the right way, or am I teaching her to 'settle', to be happy with her lot and not to strive for more?  Are not the two lessons quite similar and could potentially get mixed up?  What do you think?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

An algarve winter

Not quite an 'algarve winter' but sometimes feels like it!
This is my fourth winter here in the Algarve and each one has been a little different, the first one was very cold, the second very wet, the third was milder, but quite windy.  This one is amazingly dry and at this time, pretty cold for here.  It is rare for temperatures to drop below 5 degrees even at night, but we have had a couple of cold patches, one of which we are having now, no doubt an extension of the cold throughout europe.  But one thing we are very fortunate to have is lots of sunshine, so at least in the daytime it gets warm in the sun.  But as soon as the sun starts to disappear, Brrrr.  For the first two winters, I was so cold I spent my days, wearing 3 layers in the house and two pairs of socks.  Over the years I think I have acclimatised to the difference in the weather here from England and accept my house is colder than I would have had it in England.  But the problem here is the lack of heating, houses are not made for the few months of 'reduced' temperatures.  I crave carpets and most of all central heating!  Heating here is provided through electric heaters and fires, which is nice but nowhere near as effective as central heating and we end up with pockets of heat in different parts of the house.  And a very large electricity bill!

But not to worry, spring is just around the corner with more sunshine and warmer and longer days, so cant really complain.  But Im not complaining, just saying, Im used to it now.

Monday, February 6, 2012

When times are hard

When times are hard, you need support.  You grow up to rely on certain things and people in your life.  Possibly through your life, this support network changes.  Every one has difficult times, some more than others.  Everyone has a belief system which gives them strength and guidance in life, so what happens when that support system is not there for you?  In the hardest times of your life, you turn to find the things / people you relied on not to be there or at least in the way you need.  Or even when that lack of support, actually becomes an extra problem / worry in your life, leading you to continue without your normal support and yet having to find even more strength to go on.  How do you find a way through, pick yourself up and go on?  Have you ever been there, how did you go on?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mums, do you want to start your own business?

Have you ever thought about starting your own business?  Want to earn some extra money but dont know where to start?  Maybe you have been made redundant and are looking for a new start?

If so, this could be for you, the Become a Mumpreneur course.

This course has been running for over a year and over 200 mums have enrolled, bring some great successes to Mum's like yourself.

On the course you will get: instant access to recorded training sessions from experts and the members’ area PLUS emails every week to help you learn and stay motivated.

Mums on the course have transformed their lives already, bringing in regular money to pay the bills AND have the freedom to treat the family too.

Also you will get regular webinars to aid your training and free e-books such as, Mumpreneur in a Month and Moving your business forward.  In the members area you will have access to resources and other mums on the course to offer support and advice, which can prove invaluable.  

All this for a small month fee.
Also if its not for you, you can cancel at any time.

So why not take a look, you have nothing to lose. 

However, this is the last week you can join before entry is closed, so dont delay.

Become a Mumpreneur