Mindful Expat Episode 44: Welcome to Season 3! The Road Ahead

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Today’s episode will be a brief welcome back to the podcast. I’ll share with you a bit about what I have in mind for Season 3!
• I’ll invite you to connect with me and stay in touch as we move into Season 3.
• I’ll request YOUR participation in the podcast by leaving me an audio message! I’d love to be able to share some of your voices and stories in a future episode!


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Mindful Expat Episode 43: Studying Abroad (Part 2): Developing Cultural Competence as an International Student (With Guest: Claudia Neiman)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Claudia Neiman!

Since moving away from the US at the age of 18 for school, Claudia has lived in Spain, Brazil, and Portugal. Although she has never actually lived in the UK, she has dual US/British citizenship, which lowers administrative hurdles to her living in the EU long-term, and she considers herself a global citizen. Rather than doing just a semester or year abroad, Claudia actually enrolled directly at the University of Grenada in Spain, where she completed her undergraduate degree in sociology. Still in Grenada, she is now working on her masters degree in teaching while also working as a researcher at the university there.

Claudia and her friend Dani (who we heard from in Part 1 of this series) started a website together called Sincerely Spain, where they share their experiences and insights on topics related to living in Spain and cultural adaptation for students studying abroad.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Claudia’s experience of being an international student for the entirety of her undergraduate (and now graduate) studies and some of her observations about how this experience can differ from that of a student studying abroad for a single semester or year.

• Claudia’s experiences of transitioning from being a student to a young professional while living abroad.

• What is “cultural competence” and how can students studying abroad work to develop their own cultural competence during their time abroad.

• Some suggestions for current or prospective international students to help them develop their own cultural competence. Continue reading

Mindful Expat Episode 42: Studying Abroad (Part 1): Learning Through the Challenges & Making the Most of Our Experiences (With Guest: Dani Jauregui)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Dani Jauregui!

Dani is originally from the Chicago area. While studying at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois – majoring in Sociology and Hispanic Studies – she decided to do a semester abroad in Alicante, Spain. After returning to the US to finish her degree, Dani then decided that she wanted to move back to Spain, so in 2013 she moved to Granada, where she worked as a teaching assistant in a bilingual elementary school. After a brief stint also teaching in Costa Rica, Dani missed Granada and decided to move back. Since then, she has been working full time as an online English teacher, reaching students around the world from Granada, which she now considers to be her home.

Dani and her friend Claudia – both of whom live in Granada and also both of whom have studied sociology – started a website together called Sincerely Spain, where they share their experiences and insights on topics related to living in Spain and cultural adaptation for students studying abroad.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Dani’s experience of studying abroad for a semester and how this experience inspired her to move back to Spain after finishing her studies.

• Some of the common challenges that young adults face when studying or living abroad during this time in their lives (and some tips on how to navigate these challenges).

• Some of the amazing benefits of studying or living abroad during this formative time in our lives and how this experience can increase our own self-awareness and lead to personal development.

• Some tips to keep in mind when planning or navigating a study abroad experience. Continue reading

Mindful Expat Episode 41: Living with Health & Safety Threats: The Present Moment as a Place of Sanctuary (With Guest: Amanda Zetah)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Amanda Zetah!

Amanda is originally from the United States, from the state of Colorado. While she was in college, inspired by the dream of becoming a travel writer, she started traveling independently and soon caught the travel bug. As soon as she graduated, she jumped at the opportunity to start traveling full-time. Over the past 6 years of traveling independently, Amanda has been to over 60 different countries. She has spent time living in Sierra Leone, Iraq, Myanmar, and she now lives in Azerbaijan, where she works as an English teacher.

In addition travel, Amanda is also passionate about staying healthy – both physically and emotionally. From her own first-hand experience, she knows that travelers face some extra challenges in this realm, so she has started a website and blog for fellow health-conscious travelers called Health Nut Nomad, where she shares ideas and insights on ways to stay healthy and grounded while on the move.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• About Amanda’s experiences of facing the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone as well as a car bombing in Iraq — and how she has learned to both face her fears as well as continue to live in the present moment as she continues her journey of traveling the world.

• Amanda’s journey of discovering a mindfulness practice that works for her and allows her to feel more present in her day-to-day life.

• Some of Amanda’s favorite parts about living in some of the amazing places she has now lived — experiences that she might have missed out on if she had been solely focused on potential dangers rather than living in the present moment.

• Breaking down some misconceptions about mindfulness and discussing how the simple practice of coming back to the present moment can actually get us out of our heads and back into our lives.  Continue reading

Mindful Expat Episode 40: Divided By a Common Language: The Role of Language in Cultural Adaptation (With Guest: Claire Handscombe)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Claire Handscombe!

Claire is a freelance writer, blogger, and fellow-podcaster (host of The Brit Lit Podcast) living in Washington, DC. Born in London to a British father and French mother, Claire then spent much of her early adolescence in Belgium before returning to the UK at the age of 12. She later returned to Belgium as a young adult, before moving to DC to do her MFA in Creative Writing at American University. From 2005-2012, Claire taught English, French, and Spanish to adults of all levels in both London and Brussels. In 2011, she published a book called Conquering Babel: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Claire’s experiences of moving abroad to countries where she spoke the language, but where subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle!) language differences still impacted her cultural adaptation.

• We discuss the interplay of language and culture, including some metalinguistic cultural differences that can lead to misunderstandings.

• Claire’s experiences of the differences in academic cultures between the UK and the US.

• A discussion of why it’s important to learn at least the basics of the language where you’re living and some of the ways doing so can positively impact your life. Continue reading