A Day in My Expat Life: Nairobi

Welcome to the latest post in the Day in My Expat Life series. Today we are back in Africa – but this time up from me a bit, in Kenya. Although Kenya is a long way from South Africa, there are a few things which feel very familiar  – in particular the bars on the doors and the keep. Please welcome Mahua, who blogs at nyc2nairobi.

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I’m a New Yorker and a User Experience Strategist and Designer. My husband and I have moved to Nairobi for his job with the UN a little over a year ago. We plan to be in Nairobi for several more years. We are lucky in that his post is open ended to a degree because we really love it in Kenya.

On my blog, I post about the more interesting or exciting things in my life. Someone might read it and think that life in Nairobi is all about the excursions and travel and fun. There’s plenty of ordinary life as well. Dare I say it, a day in my life is actually a bit boring.

The day starts with security. We disarm the security system and unlock the safe haven gate every morning. This is a common thing in Nairobi. Houses have safe haven gates (a strong iron gate that prevents anyone from getting to the bedrooms upstairs) and most homes have a security system and/or askari (guard).

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We get dressed and eat breakfast. My husband goes to work at his office. Our house keeper arrives around 8 am and I’ll talk to her a bit about anything she needs to know for the day. And then I go into the usual routine.

My day to day actually varies. Some days I don’t leave the house. I try to plan something outside of the house for once a twice a week. This could be getting together with a friend, something work related, or even just an errand or mundane appointment. When I go out, I need to plan it.

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We have one car. Sometimes I’ll take it for the day. Other times I’ll use our regular guy who drives us – not a full time driver, just my usual go-to guy. I’ll need to make arrangement for anytime I want to leave the house. I’m not trapped, but I do have to plan.

Also, if I leave the house and no one is home, I will arm the security system. Most days, unless it’s a holiday, our housekeeper will be around so I won’t need to arm the system.

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Most days, my day involves working from home as an independent consultant. What does that mean? First of all, yes, I really am working. Secondly, it’s flexible in working hours. Kenya has very strict rules about work authorization. You can’t even volunteer without a permit. Much of the work I do is tied to U.S. companies and I work remotely. I also work with Kenyan companies, but they need to get me the authorization first.

Outside of assignments, I’ve also done some pro bono work (again for firms outside of Kenya). I’ve started writing some professional pieces. I’ve done one speaking engagement and I plan to do a few more. These are things I didn’t have time for when I worked as staff in any company (either in Kenya or in the U.S.). It’s nice to be able to do these things now.

I also work on my blog. It’s fun and I enjoy it. However, it’s something that is starting to shift more and more into the realm of work for me. It’s not just writing the posts. I plan out an editorial schedule so that there are always posts. I take and edit the photos that go up. I work on making sure to syndicate the content and drive traffic via Twitter, Flipboard, and Instagram.

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I also make sure I eat lunch. When it’s nice out, I’ll eat my lunch outside.] Actually, if it’s nice out, I’ll take my work outside unless I really need to use my large monitor. If it’s warm and sunny and I can get away with just the laptop, it’s the outdoor “office” for me!

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The other item that is part of my day to day is fitness. It’s really important to me. I look forward to my workouts. I enjoy doing them. I feel great afterward. Sometimes I can do this during the day to break things up. Sometimes it’s more in the late afternoon or at the end of my day.

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How all those things happen varies day to day. But, it’s fairly certain that on most days I am in front of a computer working away, with a break for lunch and a workout. It’s that routine in activity even though it changes in timing and occasional outing.

Most days, my husband gets home around 5:30 or 6 pm. At that point, my brain is fried so I’ll shift into some hobbies while my husband does his workout. (Yes, we are a fit and active couple.) I’ve got a little studio in a spare room downstairs where I’ll draw, paint, or knit. I’ll do that for a bit before I make dinner…by make, I should note that I rarely make dinner. Sometimes, yes. Many times it’s reheating food that our (once a week) cook makes for us.

After dinner we’ll relax and watch some tv. Then it’s time for bed.

The day ends as it began, with security. We lock up the front gate, arm the house alarm, and lock the safe haven before bed.

Thank you for this insight into expat life in Nairobi. It’s always good to remind the world that our lives can be quite ordinary too. Please remember to check out the other posts in this series, and let me know if you would like your expat life to be featured on this blog.

 

A Day in My Expat Life: Sweden#2

I’ve already featured Sweden in my Day in My Expat Life series but as someone who has lots of Swedish friends and has Sweden high on my list of places to visit soon I say we can never have too much Sweden! So here we go – please welcome Sara!

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I’m Sara. I was born in Portugal but I left ten years ago. In the meantime I have lived 3 years in Poland, 3 in Brazil and 2 in the Czech Republic. Now I live in Sweden. I live with my boyfriend. He is Swedish. He has also lived in different countries, including Brazil and the Czech Republic with me.

You can find my blog at http://asvoltasnomundo.blogspot.se/

1- window

1. My window 7.30 I get up and usually I stare out of the window for a couple of minutes. I check how the weather is, go through my to do list mentally and judge how awake I am. I’m a morning person, so I am usually fully awake after a few minutes. This is one of the good things of being unemployed… I have time to stare out the window.

2- breakfast

2. Breakfast 8.00 I have breakfast in the kitchen. Most mornings I eat porridge with cinnamon. Occasionally, I add a spoon of jam or apple puree. And black tea in my favourite cup. I love black tea in the morning! I read or check social networks in my phone while a eat.

3- my corner

3. My corner 8.30 After doing this and that (make the bed, clean here and there, you know what I mean) I sit in my favourite corner. It almost looks like a small office but it’s a corner of my living room. It is from here that I blog. The colourful post its have notes about what I want to blog about. From here I write, edit photographs, I read other blogs, I search and apply for jobs, etc. Note my favourite cup again with my second cup of tea. Usually, I turn on the radio for company. Portuguese radio. I can hear the news from my country and most importantly, I can hear my own language!

4- run

4. Run 10.00 I love running and I do it almost everyday. If I want a fast run I just go on the streets and in the pedestrian path along the road, because it’s flat. If I’m looking for a challenge I go up to the forest near my flat, where I find many hills. Of course the surroundings are nicer in the forest and the sound of the birds encourages me to keep going. Afterwards, I stretch for a few minutes at the entrance of my building and I go home and have shower.

5- cookbooks

5. Cookbooks 11.30 Since I had a few minutes to spare I went through some of my cookbooks to get ideas for dinner. I started collecting cookbooks when I started travelling more. I have always been interested in food and I really enjoy trying different dishes and new ingredients. I started buying a cookbook in every new country I visited and now I have a nice collection. I have more than one cookbook from certain countries. From Italy, for instance, I have 5! You guessed right… I love Italian food.

6- lunch

6. Lunch 11.45 After running I’m hungry so I need to eat some lunch. I either heat up some leftovers from the day before or eat a sandwich with salad. One of my favourite combinations is sill in lemon sauce with boiled egg. Sill is herring (a fish) and in Sweden you can buy it marinated in different sauces. Sill is always present in different Swedish festivities celebrated all over the year. I actually enjoy it quite a lot and as it makes an easy and fast meal I eat it for lunch sometimes

7- school

7. School 12.30 I moved to Sweden in the beginning of the year and I spend roughly 3h a day learning Swedish in school. It is called SFI (Swedish for immigrants) and it is a free course for foreigners. Foreigners who do have a job can also take the course, but it is usually only once a week. Our teacher is great and full of energy, which is very motivating. It’s fun and I really enjoy sharing that part of my day with people from all over the world.

8- library

8. Library 15.45 After dropping the school books at home, I take my bicycle and cycle to the library to return a book. I love the library! It’s huge and has a large selection of books in english, and a lot in many different languages! I finished Be careful what you wish for, from the Clifton series of Jeffrey Archer and I took Sushi for beginners, from Marian Keyes. I have 3 weeks to read each book, but the time can be extended through my online account. Usually I don’t have to extend it.

9- supermarket

9. Supermarket 16.10 Afterwards, I also went to the supermarket. I always have a list because my memory is not the best. The supermarket is huge and it only takes me 5 minutes to get there from home by bicycle. I am a member of their club and I can use the self-scanning machines. I scan my own groceries and I pay on my own at the end. It makes it so much faster! One can get a random check and be penalised if not all products are scanned. I have never failed… yet. Today is a bit later than normal, so my boyfriend Johan meets me at the supermarket and we go home together.

10- sofa

10. Sofa 17.00 Johan is usually tired after a long day at work and he enjoys laying down a bit in the sofa, reading or surfing the web in his tablet. Usually, I’m back in my corner to do my homework and study Swedish on the internet. Once he suggested me to read children’s books in Swedish to practise my reading. We brought his collection of books from his parents house and now and then I read for him. The interesting fact is that he often does fall asleep! The brain reaction is still there… 30 years later.

11- dinner

11. Dinner 18.00 – 20.00 We usually have a lot of fun cooking together and one of the things we make often is fresh pasta. Today, I found a pasta recipe that uses one of my favourite combinations: gorgonzola and walnuts. We have tried it in pizza, together with pear, but never in pasta. Since we really liked the recipe, we will repeat it and I will take better photographs of the dish, so I can post it on my recipe’s blog, the Swedish and the Chef (link: http://the-swedishchef.blogspot.se/)

12- bedtime

12. Reading 20.00 – 00.00 After dinner, I go back to studying Swedish because I have a test in two days. Sometimes I blog instead, or chat on the internet with family or friends. When I get tired I join Johan in the sofa and watch a bit of TV or read. Around 23.00 we go to bed and I keep reading as much as my eyes allow me. It varies from a couple of pages to an hour straight.

Thanks Sara, I really enjoyed reading about your life and seeing your photos. That pasta looks great! Remember to check out my other posts in this series – and please let me know if you would like your expat life featured on this blog.

A Day in My Expat Life: Abu Dhabi

Welcome to another Day in My Expat Life and again this is a special one because Keri, of the website Baby Globetrotters, is a blogger I have been communicating, coordinating and collaborating since we both started out about the same time a couple of years ago. I have never actually met Keri – even though she came on holiday to South Africa at one point since we have been living here – so was curious to find about a bit more about her life. I also love the fact that even though she has three children, she still manages to have time to do her own thing: so important for us expat parents.

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6.19am(1)

6.19am Our day normally starts when the first child wakes up; this can be anywhere between 5.30am and 7am on really lucky days! On a standard school day though we need to be up and at it by 6.30am Not a bad view to wake up to though, we live in a fairly new beach front development “off island” in Abu Dhabi, Al Raha Beach. This is the view from the top floor of our townhouse (4 floors high!)

7.25am

7.25am We have 3 kids to try and usher out the door for school by 7.25am if we can. The International school the oldest two attend is only a few kilometers away but traffic lights are rubbish and we spend 15-20 mins every morning sat in the school run queue. We have rather a large car to fit our collection of kiddy seats – and kids (they are sadly not compulsory in the UAE but no way we’d go anywhere without them). Our littlest one is only 1, he attends the British nursery near the school.

8.35am

8.35am My favourite part of the day once the kids are dropped off! I start my working day by heading down to the beach front for a coffee. Here I catch up my overnight emails and social media. It’s too hot now for sitting on the beach itself but it’s a great, friendly little place – and makes me love my work from home jobs!

9.25am

9.25am Walking back to my house – it’s a mixed development along the man-made Al Raha Beach (slightly inland from the Persian gulf coast) with apartments, townhouses, villas and some commercial buildings – Etihad Centre is right behind our house. It comes with the convenience of a little supermarket and a few shops. The only real hassle here is parking.

10am

10am Where the work gets done! Back to my desk for the next few hours until kiddy pick up times. Once or twice a week I might be at client meetings but mostly working at home in front of the PC, three mornings a week while my youngest is at nursery.

12.30pm

12.30pm Lunch is just something quick and simple like toast or sandwich. NB note the kitchen only looks immaculate as we have a full time helper. She cleans the house while the kids are at school which is *amazing*

2.45pm(1)

2.45pm School pick up run starts again around 1.45pm when I leave our house, then with staggered finish times over two locations – at least if I am not picking up extra kids, dropping off for play dates etc – it takes about 1.5hrs to get home again. As you can see our cars are big (to fit all those car seats!) but having a 4wd or “Mummy Tank” is fairly standard issue here.

3.15pm(1)

3.15pm Today is slightly special and different as it’s my middle boy’s 4th birthday. We always get a special cake and treat on our actual birthday, he will have a pool party on the weekend with his friends. Afternoons while it’s hot they will generally stay in the playroom or play in the pool until dinner time.

5.45pm(1)

5.45pm As a special treat we let the kids pick birthday dinner and we all go out, including some of my husband’s relatives who live in Abu Dhabi too. We are very lucky to have this connection here and make things like birthday celebrations special – they love their Uncle Sean! My Master L will basically only eat pasta so he picked Carluccio’s at Eastern Mangroves, another fairly new waterfront development.

6.30pm(1)

6.30pm The high life when you have kids! All done by about 6.30pm to be home in bed around 7pm. This is the view from the gorgeous Eastern Mangroves marina back to some of the high rises on Reem Island. There really is no ‘centre’ of Abu Dhabi, just lots of awesome little spots to explore.

 

Thank you Keri for that look at your expat life. Please check out our other posts in this series if you haven’t already done so and let me know if you would like your expat life to be featured in a future post!

A Day in my Expat Life – France

This edition of A Day in My Expat Life is a special one as it features old school friend Phoebe who I caught up with a few years ago and now keep on contact with via social media and blogging. Keen-eyed readers might have spotted an ad at the side of my blog with the words “Book Me” on it. This ad links to the Gite run by Phoebe on the Cote D’Azur in France called Lou Messugo. I haven’t managed to visit (yet) but after reading about Phoebe’s life, it’s certainly on my list……

 

01 breakfast

I get up at 7.30 but my day really starts around 8.15 after the kids have gone to school when I have a calm breakfast on my own usually consisting of a Franco-British combo of toasted leftover baguette “tartines” with marmite, some fruit and a coffee. At this time of year I eat it outside on the terrace.

02 Lou  Messugo Facebook page

8.30 Next up I usually check and answer emails and update the Facebook page for my gite. I also check and reply to other social medias, link up to blog linkies etc. I take my laptop out on to the terrace and spend anything from 1-2 hours doing this.

03 laundry

9.30 There is always laundry to do, living with 3 sporty males and running a holiday rental. Every day I do at least 2 and often more loads. Our climate is good enough that for most of the year I dry everything outside in the sun and avoid using the dryer.

04 goodbye guests

11.00 The gîte is very popular and for most of the year I have 2 changeovers a week. Today is one of those days and check out time is 11am so I go to check over the apartment and say goodbye to the guest.

05 unblocking septic tank

11.30 While cleaning the gîte today I discover the septic tank is blocked so I call my husband who has to pop back from work to deal with it. It is not a pleasant job! This is one of the worst things about running a holiday rental and unfortunately it happens reasonably often.

06 cleaning gîte

13.30 Cleaning usually takes me 2-3 hours depending on the state the guests leave it in. Last job is to mop the floor. I haven’t had time to eat lunch….

07 supermarket shopping

14.00 I just have time for a quick rush around the supermarket as we’re out of most things. I also go to the weekly market and several small shops on a daily basis but today is the big weekly shop and not market day. Supermarkets in France are excellent (but quite pricey!)

08 school pick up

15.45 School pick up. I car pool with neighbours and today it’s my turn to pick up my younger kid and a couple of others from primary school. (My oldest at high school, he takes the bus and is fully independent). I go straight from the supermarket.

09 welcome basket

16.15 I put the finishing touches to the welcome basket for the next guests in the gîte and pick some flowers from the garden for them. Check-in is from 16.00 but today’s guests aren’t due till 17.30 so I’m in time!

10 guests arrival

17.30 New guests arrive (and get photographed!) I don’t usually record arrivals but today’s guests have stayed at Lou Messugo several times and I asked if they wouldn’t mind! As they’ve been so often I don’t have to explain anything to them, just welcome them in.

11 edit photos

17.45 Time for another session on the computer catching up on admin, comments on the blog and other social medias. I have my phone on me all day for immediate answers to booking enquiries etc but I still like to sit down at my desk to deal with booking contracts and other details of running a holiday rental.

12 bus to Nice

19.00 I’m off for a rare night out in Nice with a group of friends to watch the Euro football in the “fan zone” (official spectator area with giant screen and bars). Buses are free tonight as the match is in Nice (one of the host cities) so I take public transport.

13 Nice fanzone

I grab a snack in the fan zone. On changeover days I often don’t get time to eat lunch. I get home around midnight and go to bed.

Thank you Phoebe for this peak into your French life. If you haven’t already seen them, please take a look at the other posts in this series A Day in My Expat LIfe; and do get in touch if you would like to feature.

 

Lou Messugo

A Day in My Expat Life: Zambia

Today’s Day in My Expat Life comes to you from sunny Zambia. I am still on holiday in the UK and really starting to miss the sights and sounds of Africa so have enjoyed looking through these photos.

In this entry to my series, Annie Wright of A Wright Adventure (also on Facebook and instragram at awrightadventure) takes us through a day with her three beautiful boys, from sun up to sun down. I can hear those cicadas and smell that dusty road from here!

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6:30 : Sun rise walk / run to drop big boys of at school bus.

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7:00 : Breakfast with my baby blue. Although most of his seems to go on the floor.

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8:00 : Baby blue gets as many toys out as possible!

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10:00 : Outside play with Baby blue. Picking our strawberries.

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12:30 : Pick up middle man from nursery. Red dirt roads and Blue skys.

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14:00 : Lego boy comes home on the bus and bounces with Baby Blue.

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17:45 : Beautiful sun set but it means it is time for insect replant.

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18:00 : Homework time.

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19:15: Lego boy reads me a bed time story.

If you want to read more Day in My Expat Life entries then please click here – and let me know if you would like to feature in this series!

A Day in My Expat Life -Sweden

Welcome to the latest look at a normal day in an expat life and today we move to Europe and Sweden where we meet Lisa Ferland and her family. Lisa is a U.S. citizen who has lived in Sweden since 2012. Together with her husband, they have embraced the Swedish lifestyle and according to Lida are currently “raising a five-year-old Lego-lover and a two-year-old Pippi Longstocking fanatic”. Lisa also recently published the anthology about birth and parenting as an expat called Knocked Up Abroad featuring a chapter by yours truely and can be reached on Facebook and Twitter@knockdupabroad.

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Lisa 1

7:45 am—8:00 am Our morning began with a deer sighting in our backyard. The kids did their best to scare it away but this deer was experienced in the ways of shouty children and stayed to munch on our grass.

Lisa2

The golf course behind our house has a herd of sheep grazing in a fenced-off section of grass. We decided to go check them out before school.

Lisa3

No fish are in that pond. My son checked it out—all clear.

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I’m not sure if the kids were impressed or bored with the sheep. Things got fun when the kids started shaking their rumpas at them. The sheep were a bit nervous with the display.

Lisa5

Very nervous sheep.

Lisa6

8:15 am – 8:30 am Time to head to school

Lisa7

Every bridge must be inspected for trolls. Troll-checking is a time-consuming activity but it’s for our safety, so it must be done.

Lisa8

Nope. No trolls here. No snakes either, despite a sign clearly depicting the presences of snakes. The kids were a bit disappointed.

Lisa9

Finally, we are on the way to school. A moped drove by and we stopped to wave hello.

Lisa10

Finally! After a long walk of touching every slug in sight, we make it to school relatively on time.

Lisa11

With the kids at school, I need to run some errands. First up—filling up the gas tank with diesel fuel. This is always a costly errand but we only use the car once or twice a week.

Lisa12

Total cost: 720.90 SEK for 55 liters (equivalent to $6.04/gallon—much cheaper than the $8.50/gallon we saw when we first moved to Sweden.)

Lisa13

Acquiring a Swedish driver’s license is incredibly difficult and expensive (for non-Swedes and Swedes alike). This sign says that you can park for 3 hours M-F 7 am-11:30 pm, Saturdays 7 am– 7 pm, and Sundays and holidays, 7 am – 7 pm. You must display a P-skiva on your window shield.

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The P-Skiva

Lisa15

I received this notice that I had a package arrive and I can only retrieve it at the local post office, which is near the grocery store in town. Unless the package can fit within the dimensions of your mailbox, every package is kept at the central post office regardless if you live in a house or apartment.

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The outdoor center of the shopping mall.

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Inside the shopping mall—stores don’t open until 10 am, except for the grocery store and post office.

Lisa18

Ah, this box was larger than I anticipated. I had to carry it awkwardly through the grocery store while I did my shopping. Oh well.

Lisa19

I always check out the pastry section when I’m in the grocery store. I can’t help myself.

Lisa20

Delicious fikabröd or pastries for coffee breaks/fika

Lisa21

Due to my one arm being full of awkward box, I left with a pastry, a Swedish table top maypole flag (midsummer is coming up), and fun bandaids for my kids who like to use them as body art instead of covering cuts.

Lisa22

Swedes remove their shoes in the entryway. Sock fashion is very important in the winter.

Lisa23

9:30 am – 3 pm Sitting at my desk in my home office with a little treat and some coffee and I’m ready to work on my writing.

Lisa24

3:00 pm – 5:30 pm I picked up the kids from school at 3 pm and we are ready to go off in search of new playgrounds.

Lisa25

We pause at a construction site because they are dynamiting the granite rocks and the kids love the big booms

Lisa26

A new-to-us playground is nearby in a newly constructed neighborhood. This one made excellent use of the local rocks and they are perfect for climbing.

Lisa27

To reach the swing at the top, kids must climb up the hill.

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A fun little hut that housed many spiders so the kids opted out.

Lisa29

Banana break in a shelter at the next playground

Lisa30

The last stop on our afternoon adventure was an outdoor exercise space that is the epitome of Swedish training. It is situated among the woods with a horse riding school nearby and people train by lifting logs on a fulcrum system.

Lisa31

The climbing wall was still under construction but we tried it out anyway

Lisa32

This exercise made me a bit dizzy as the logs went quite high.

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Hey there, horsey. The local horses are always fun to watch.

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More climbing

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And dancing on rocks

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On the way home, we saw a cat sitting in the woods. Cats are given free range in our neighborhood and we see them all over.

Lisa37

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm So, what was in that large box that I picked up earlier? A wireless keyboard courtesy of my mother. Now I can get to typing up my second book!

Lisa38

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm For dinner, we had stir fried rice with eggs from our neighbor’s chickens. The entire day was spent outside playing in the beautiful weather. The kids were exhausted and collapsed into bed around 8 pm. Tomorrow begins another day of more of the same.

Thank you to LIsa for that glimpse into her life – those pastries in particlar look delicious. I am loving the fact that so many of these Days in an Expat Life have so much in common eg walking to school, yummy food and working at a lap top – even though they are all in very different places! If you want to see more posts in this series please click here, and if you would like your own day to feature then please comment below or email me clara@expatpartnersurvival.com.

A Day in My Expat Life -Saudi

Welcome to the fourth post in my blog series looking at an average day in the life of an expat. Today we are off to Saudi Arabia, where we hear from the Ersatz Expat. It’s always interesting to hear about life in some of the places we might think of as “difficult” – only to realise that actually it’s not so different from anywhere else. Read on to find out more….

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Clara sent out a call for guest bloggers a little while ago.  I have been meaning to write a post about the normal day to day existence we have as expats in KSA (Saudi) and it seemed to be a good fit for a guest blog.  With that in mind I kept my ‘phone with me for Thursday 9 June to document my normal day.

We have been living in KSA for 2 ½ months and really starting to settle in and get into a routine.  We are still, however, in the transit house (we hope to move soon), are expecting our shipment imminently and are still waiting for our pets to arrive from Malaysia so I fully expect the routine to change shortly.  Indeed I hope it does as I can’t wait to get the pets here and it would be lovely for Mini EE to have her own bed in her own bedroom and not have to put up with the travel cot in ours.

Ramadan arrived last week which has also had an impact on our daily routine.  The children have a later start at school,  a much more civilised 08.30 compared to the awful 07.30 and shops, restaurants etc are shut until after sunset in theory and after 21/22..00 in reality.

06:30

Mr EE’s day starts a little earlier than ours, he has to be in work for 07.20, he will usually bring the children in to school with him (he is their Headmaster) but there is little point in them going in early to sit around doing nothing.  Instead they can get up a little later and have breakfast at home.

Nerissa 1

08:15 Once the older children have eaten, tidied and made their lunch boxes Master and Miss EE help Mini EE to put her shoes on and pack her bag for ‘school’ (she goes to the school Crèche every day).

Nerissa 2

The school is next to our compound and the two are connected by a door so the older two children can come and go as they wish and I don’t need to wear an abaya when I do the miniscule school run. Master and Miss EE sometimes take themselves to school in the morning but they often prefer to walk with Mini EE. They are desperate to be allowed to take her to school on their own, perhaps when she is 4 years old….

Nerissa 3

08:45 After dropping Mini EE at crèche I aim to fit in some exercise. This is an activity that is often more avoided than engaged with, but I have been pushing myself to do more. Some days I go for a swim, the compound has two pool areas and both are quiet, other days I take myself to the gym and go for a run. I prefer to run outside but the only suitable space is the school athletics track which is out of bounds during the school day (for obvious reasons). This morning I went for a swim, I have been doing about 30 lengths a time but the pool is only short so I aim to get this up to 60 and then 100 in the next few months.

09:45

After my swim and a wash and dress I tidied the house and put the laundry on.  The older children are responsible for keeping their rooms tidy, Miss EE does this rather more successfully than Master EE but the rest, other than the two days we have someone in to help, is down to me.  We are hoping to employ a full time maid in due course but this is a long way down the list of things we need to sort out.

Nerissa 4

10.30 After cleaning and tidying I hung up the washing and then allowed myself a 5 minute coffee break before starting work. I would love a job here in Saudi but with all the hassle of the move and all the things still to sort out I decided to wait until after the summer to search for a job and, of course, a work permit. In the interim I freelance through Upwork and get paid into our UK account. The transit house has no space for a home office so I tend to work at the dining room table, it is not really ideal but much better than perching the laptop on my knee. If we move to a larger house I will be able to get a desk, either in our bedroom or on the upstairs landing. Malls open at about 10 so I sometimes get a taxi to one of the many close to our compound if I need to pick up essentials, I won’t bother during Ramadan as daytimes are a little dull.

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12:00 At around lunchtime I start preparations for the evening meal. This house has no stairgates and Mini EE has learned to climb out of her temporary play pen so prepping early gives me a chance to get everything set up and ready to go later on in the day. This means that if the older two decide to go out I am not cooking while keeping an eye on Mini EE. Today I made a tomato and mozzarella salad and put some chicken breasts in the oven to roast. I often need to pick up some extra bits and pieces (milk, eggs etc) at the compound shop and if I do I generally go about this time.

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He stocks a basic range of vegetables, fruit, dairy products and snacks and is handy for top ups between big shops. I rarely eat breakfast or lunch during the week so will often pick up a biscuit or bar of chocolate when I go over. They stock my favourites, Stroopwafels, a Dutch caramel biscuit and I eat far too many of them to be healthy (you can see a pack behind my computer).

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The compound is teeming with cats (I even wrote a blog post about them here). Most of them are semi feral. Some are friendly but they are all endearing. A stunning Van style cat lives near the shop and will often come over to say hello when I pop over, probably in the hope that I will drop a morsel for him.

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I bake a loaf of bread fresh every day, flat Arabic bread is lovely but useless for sandwiches or toast and while there are very good French bakeries that do lovely bread, I can’t get there on a daily basis. I can get plastic sandwich loaves in the corner shop but I don’t like the taste or texture so I brought my bread machine back from a recent trip to the UK. I have been working my way through the various different recipes that came with the machine. So far the thumbs up have gone to the plain loaf, the pesto and pine nut loaf, the cinnamon raisin and the tomato focaccia. The soft rolls (which mix in the bread maker then cook in the oven and which I stuff with feta and herbs or olives) are another particular favourite.

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Today I simply made a garlic pizza bread to go with supper and then put a plain loaf on to bake. In between I was able to do a little more work.

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14:00 By the time I finished preparing the supper and the second batch of bread the children were due back from school. I usually walk over to get Mini EE from crèche about 14:00. By the time we have said our goodbyes to the teachers it is around 14:10 or school leaving time. We walk back past Master and Miss EE’s building, sometimes we catch them, sometimes they are waiting for us at home. The older two like to take about 30 minutes to relax, have a drink of water and play with Mini EE before getting changed and doing their prep or any extra work that I give them at home. Miss EE has reading every day and will often read her assigned books to her younger sister. I didn’t manage to get a photograph today but here is one from a few weeks ago (when, for some inexplicable reason she decided to do her reading in her bedroom).

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I love baking and Miss EE enjoys helping me. Sadly the oven in our last house was an absolute disaster and made baking a near impossibility. The oven here is a little slow but is a great improvement and means that we can enjoy cake again. I usually bake a loaf cake so that the children can take slices to school in their lunch boxes but today I decided to do something different. I had seen a Betty Crocker Ramadan advert for rose and pistachio cupcakes (made using something called cake mix!) and thought that with a bit of playing around I could emulate those with a normal homemade cake batter. The experiment worked first time, the cupcakes were a great success and something I think I might add to my regular baking repertoire.

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17:00 The cakes had cooled enough to be iced and sampled (with a pot of rose flavoured tea of course).

Normally Thursday nights are our heavy grocery night.  Mr EE finishes work on time and we get his driver to drop us off at one of the big malls.  We usually grab a burger (Hardees, an American chain, are our current favourites) during sunset prayers then we pop into the supermarket just before night time prayers and browse in relative calm (the supermarket does a ‘lock in’ during prayers).  We can also pick up any clothing items the children need, browse for new books etc in the other shops in the mall.  Ramadan has put this Thursday ritual on hold.  As luck would have it, Mr EE and I had been invited to a goodbye party for someone from another company that he has been working closely with so we would not have been able to get groceries anyway.

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18:00 The babysitter arrived. I dressed the salad, warmed the bread then cut the pieces of chicken I had roasted at lunch time before putting them into some pasta with pesto and cream to make supper for the children then quickly got ready to go out.

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18:45 The party was off site (you can just see my abaya over my left arm in the picture). It was a good chance to catch up with Mr EE who had been very busy at work, he was hardly home all week and due to be working most of the weekend. It was also a good opportunity to meet some more people. I am always keen to extend our circle beyond work and our immediate compound wherever possible.

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19:15 The party was not far away but Thursday nights are the start of the weekend and the roads are normally crazily busy. A week before we had gone to the same venue and the journey had taken us almost an hour. This time around the roads were almost deserted for iftar (break of fast at sundown). A few people were handing out or selling water for those who had not made it home on time. Most of our friends who are fasting say that not eating is not a problem at all but they find the not drinking very, very difficult. Our journey was so quick that we arrived early.

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22:30 Tired from a long week we left the party early (Jeddah is a night life city and gatherings and parties, particularly during Ramadan, can go on until the not so early house). The event was quite close to one of the Jeddah landmark hotels which the children and Mr EE think looks like Avengers HQ. The lighting is certainly quite spectacular although my ‘phone did not do it justice.

Thank you to the Ersatz Expat for this glimpse at her daily life – that bread from your breadmaker looks so familiar from our days in Pakistan! I also love the look of those cupcakes…. Please check out the other posts in this series by clicking here, and in the meantime if you would like me to feature a day in your expat life please leave a comment below or email me clara@expatpartnersurvival.com.