Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Writer Abroad isn't doing much of anything this year between Christmas and New Year's. Well, not much of anything except eating a lot of cheese. See, this year, she stayed in Switzerland for the holiday. The result? According to Mr. Writer Abroad, "I have such a big ball of cheese in my stomach that it is radiating heat like the sun."

Now that's the way to celebrate the season, Swiss style.

Alles Gute zum neuen Jahr from Writer Abroad.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Writing conferences, blogging, and more

With a whopping 6.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, Writer Abroad can almost think straight. So without further ado, here’s the latest news from the international writing community:

The Geneva Writers’ Conference will welcome over 200 writers from around the world for a weekend of workshops in Geneva, Switzerland, from February 3-5, 2012. Registration is now open.

The Zurich Writers Workshop is organizing critique groups for writers living in Zurich and the surrounding areas. To join, submit your contact info before the end of the year.

Looking for writing training that’s not location specific? Over at the Urban Muse Writer, Susan Johnston has compiled a list of 5 Sources for Free Online Writing Training.

Want to make money as a blogger? Visit ProBlogger’s job board. You have to read the ads carefully to make sure it’s a good deal (i.e. decent pay instead of just ad revenue), but Writer Abroad once found a gig from this site and ended up blogging for that company for over a year.

Finally, Writer Abroad just completed something that makes her proud: her first assignment post-baby. She wrote the destination feature on Zurich this month for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines.

Anything you want to share that’s going on in your area? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Five Great Books About Life Abroad

There are a lot of books about life abroad out there.

But many of them romanticize the experience rather than tell the truth: life abroad is hard. Contrary to popular belief, the world is not just a place for Westerners to eat, pray, or fix up a holiday home. It can also be a place where a person with a Master’s degree doesn’t even know the word for beef.

Below are five books that paint a more accurate portrait of life abroad when you’re really, really living it for the long haul. If you're looking for a Christmas gift, I recommend any of these. And if you order them by clicking on the links included in this blog, you’ll help support Writer Abroad as well.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris

Ruthless French teachers. Fears of speaking a new language so strong you wish meat were sold in vending machines. Trying to explain a holiday such as Easter in another language (Jesus shaves, anyone?). In these stories and more, Sedaris pretty much sums up the difficulties (and surprising rewards) that come from trying to make a life in another country. C'est bon.

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven

By Susan Jane Gilman

A recent college graduate, Susan Jane Gilman was ready to conquer the world. She had romantic visions of backpacking abroad. But then she went to China, which in the 80s, had been open to tourists for about ten minutes. Between ant infested hotel rooms, broken down vehicles, and Chinese men who don’t know a word of English but can recite John Denver songs by heart, Gilman proves that “real travel” doesn’t get much more real than this.

Tales from the Expat Harem

Edited by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Goekmen

Before I traveled to Turkey last year, I read this collection of 32 essays about women who live there. One of my favorite essays was about a Christian evangelist from Iowa who was rescued by the very Turkish souls she hoped to save. Gotta love the theme: An American goes out to save the world and the world saves her instead.

Moonlight in Odessa

By Janet Skeslien Charles

What happens when a woman from the Ukraine becomes so tempted by the American dream that she becomes a mail order bride in order to attain it? This novel, written by an American expat living in Paris, has the answers. See the United States through the eyes of a Ukrainian as the main character, Daria, goes from being wide-eyed over things like garage door openers to finally becoming skeptical of the very materialism she dreamed of obtaining.

Kabul Beauty School

By Deborah Rodriguez

This is the true story of an American woman who goes to Afghanistan to teach women how to open their own beauty parlors. But teaching becomes interwoven with living as her students share their stories with her. From the woman who faked her virginity on her wedding night to the 12-year-old bride who was sold to repay family debts, this is an interesting look into the lives of Afghan women and also the affect they have on the American woman who came to empower them.

What are your favorite books about life or travel abroad?


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