Six Nations

I’m rather more free than the previous six degreers, Nosemonkey and Phil, in that I am not tied to starting from my own blog. I thought that today we’d explore the virtual world thematically and introduce you, dear readers, to the wonderful weirdness of the expat blog.

As a recently returned expat from first America and then France, I can tell you that blogging makes life a lot easier for those of us lucky to live abroad. It’s an easy way to share news and photos with family and friends, and a good forum in which to air our frustrations with our adopted nation without unduly offending the natives. Expat bloggers are generally also trying to get to grips with the peculiarities of culture and politics of their environment.

Some infamous bloggers are expats: Tim Ireland’s an Aussie and Armin Grewe’s from Germany but they blog from and about England. The limeys abroad are pretty good too: Tim Worstall in Portugal, Zoe in Belgium, Third Avenue in New York, Neil in Germany, Francis in France. Expats can make the best bloggers, because they spend their lives comparing and analysing cultures and sometimes this yields extraordinary insights.

Since expat bloggers tend to link to and mention bloggers in their host country, I thought we’d get around the world a little faster if we relied upon the nifty little flags next to blogs on Armin Grewe’s webring for expat bloggers, The Ministry of Propaganda. I am going to hop around my six blogs via the novel method of choosing a blogger based on the host nation of the previous blogger. It’s like the Kevin Bacon game.

Let’s start with Greg Altreuter who’s a yank living down under. Southern Cross Words has an excellent piece on Australian anti-terror legislation which makes me start banging my head in frustration at the english-speaking world’s determination to wander down the merry path to fascism.

Suze Abroad is an Australian girl who married a Dutchman and lives with him in Utrecht. She’s very vocal and perspicacious on the myth of Dutch tolerance, and discusses frequently her dislike of the overt and growing racism in the Netherlands. I used to work for a Dutch company, and I was shocked to hear that my colleagues would be stopped in the street and told to go home because they didn’t speak Dutch. Not even French people are that rude.

The China Herald is a blog written by Dutch journalist Fons Tuinstra. He is apparently censored in China, living between Shanghai and Brussels and take a special interest in all things techie over there, as a self described “internet entrepreneur.” More newsy than your average expat blog, fewer cute cultural difference stories.

“Richey”, living in London, blogs at the Dustless Workshop. An interesting post on the impending chinese v. disney culture clash is worth a look, where he draws a comparison with the Clinton sex scandals. “Chinese society OTOH preaches morality above everything, a good person is better than a clever person…A Chinese person will question Clinton’s ability as a president because of his immoral deeds…Basically, us Chinese link Disney’s business conducts with their moralities, hence we hear talks in and out of HK of boycotting Disney”

On to the quintessential Englishman in New York, not our own, dear Third Avenue, but Paul Berger from Leeds, a man with a nice eye for photography and a freelance writer living in the overlarge fruit. He has a very nice post about existentially disurbing cinema marquee parodies made by people anagramming the letters around.

Next up is Scott Abel’s Baltic Blog, primarily, it seems concerned with military history and happenings in the area. As Scott himself puts it “Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — So far from God, so close to the Russian Federation. A decade of independence and loving it! The latest word from 800-year-old Tallinn; medieval but wired.” The archives go back to 2002, so this guy has much to be discovered. He seems to live in Estonia and waxes lyrical about the flat tax, comparing it to the “byzantine” US system. I tell you Scott, try doing the ones especially for foreigners, forget byzantine, they’re ptolemaic in their complexity.

Since there aren’t that many Estonians out there blogging in English from abroad, and I;ve reached my full quotient of six, I’ll stop there. I do, however, want to recommend a couple of sites if you wish to delve further into this magical world: Ministry of Propaganda I’ve mentioned, but check out Expat Blog and Expat Express as well as group blog Lost in Transit . Happy travels.

  1. How did I know that Neil was going to get mentioned?

  2. Hi Katie,
    Not censored at all. Not very easy to get into problems with the Chinese censor.



  3. Sorry Fons, I think I saw an older site that had that in its banner and was referring to that. I’ll remove that forthwith.

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