Efraim's Blog

16 September 2008

To be an Expat

When I turned 18, I started to work as an English and Spanish teacher with foreign oil companies in Maracaibo, Venezuela (Shell, Chevron, Oxy Petrol, etc). Here, I met the first Expat, in latin ex (out of) and patria (country, fatherland), which according to Wikipedia means: "a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence."

Now, for the first time I am the Expat (outside Venezuela and Canada) working for a global telecom company with just over a month in Khartoum, Sudan. Up to now, I can say:

Weather: it’s rainy season, so days are cool (windy)… but still very hot! Also, in this past month, there have been 2 sand storms that have completely fill de apartment with sands.

People: they are very nice, friendly and helpful. I have interacted with only a few and they all seem very proud of Sudan and say there's freedom here. Obviously, I don't know the internal affairs in details... but, I hope this country grows.

Language: I am completely lost in arabic... but, learning the very basic to get by.

Infrastructure: it’s deficient in most of the city, main roads are ok... but, internal are dirt and uneven. Also, power failures are almost daily (to have a generator is a plus at office or home). However, there are several ambitious projects.

Safety: there is trouble in the country (Dafur), but in the city it is pretty safe and I can go out at night (nevertheless, I have my 6 eyes in all direction at all times)

Food: I stay in the range of recommend restaurants for foreigners and I only had 1 stomach incident.

Entertainment: there isn’t any English-speaking movie theater (very bad for me), but satellite TV in hotel and apt have 2-3 news and 4-5 movies channels (good enough for me).

Internet: I connect through wireless broadband over 3.5G cellular network (it runs very nice… I can Skype, Gmail and Facebook easily).

Social life: it is mostly work colleagues and very few diplomat people (Canada, Spain, Venezuela, UN, etc). There are some parties with guest list and they are OK (but, I'm not a party animal).

Religion: I am impressed how it is so important to all people (age, gender, social class, etc). Especially in Ramadan… ufff, I would need to train before going a month fasting for over 12 hrs.

Cultural Awareness: I have seen all over the city, men (common, business and professional) holding hands as a sign of strong friendship. Of course, in my "western" mind this means something else... and it's a cultural learning experience.

Downside: I miss my wife, going to the movies on Tuesday night, hanging out with friends at Juebebes, play soccer and driving around Montreal at any time.

Upside: I am definitely getting more experience, expanding my professional network contacts and getting pay to travel.

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  • Loco, que molleja de poloooooo... Espero el sueldo este recompensando el largo viaje.. Exitos por alla.. Saludos a Ale.. Ya voy a agregarte en los Enlaces de mis PanaX.. Cuidade camarada..!

    By Blogger Jorge Luis Zambrano, At 4:31 PM  

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