September 24, 2010

Getting the News while Living Abroad

The first few months living and working in a foreign country can be daunting for a number of reasons, including language barriers, access to friends and not feeling part of your new community right away. It can feel especially strange to not be familiar with the names and faces on the news – politicians, celebrities, even local personalities. So how do you keep up with the news while you are living abroad?

There are a large number of resources available online that help you to do just that. The trick is to find reliable sources of news, translated into your language and written for an expat audience.

  • Expatica is a great website for expats living in Belgium, Germany, Moscow, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom. Not only to they provide resources for finding health insurances, housing and even banking they also provide a news feed of country-specific news stories in English. These stories are a great primer for someone starting a new job abroad, because they run the gamut from political news, movies reviews, restaurant recommendations and culture pieces.
  • Facebook might seem like an unlikely “new source” and I’m certainly not looking to promote it as such. However, Facebook does have a group or fan page for just about anything. While you may not be comfortable reaching out to strangers in the “Expats working in finance in Luxembourg” group, you can join and take a look at what people are talking about, what news articles they are posting, etc. just to get a sense of what some parts of the community care about.
  • Asia Times is a great source for news, period. But their in-depth coverage of Asia news is especially good, especially economic and political news. Get ready for long articles with tons of information about Japan, China, Korea, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • The Blogosphere is just like Facebook (and Twitter for that matter) in that there is a blog about anything and everything, which can be especially helpful for expats that might not be living close to a physical community or people in similar situations. Often blogs and their comments help to build an online community that is more focused than Facebook, if slightly less private. Since so many blogs focus are born out of a trip or life change that is out of the ordinary. So blogs tend to pop up quite a bit in the expat community. It can take a while to sift through personal blogs to find something useful, but once you find a blog that you love, check out the blog roll. Blogs tend to have a lot of overlap with readership, and you might start to see some familiar names with whom you can connect and learn more about your new home country.

These are just a few places to start. Don’t discount some more local news sources, like the local grocer or patrons at the corner cafe. You’d be surprised at home many people in non-English speaking countries would love to tell a new person about all of wonders of their community, or might just want to practice English skills. If you are in a country where you speak the language, striking up a conversation about local news can be even easier.

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