Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post at Expat Explorer

Head on over to Expat Explorer an check out my latest Guest Post! 

Don't miss my three bonus missions.

Mini Mission # 18 - Host a Dinner Party

Remember Gran Torino? The scene where Clint is invited to the BBQ
is hilarious. Source
Maybe you've made some friends by now? Your fellow regulars, or maybe your neighbors who you see at the bakery? What about inviting some of them to your house for a dinner party? This is a great way to get to know your new acquaintances better and also to show off your culinary skills. Don't have any? No problem! Just do something easy. You could even order in. 

Here are some ideas for an easy dinner party with your new friends:

  • Make some local dishes - try your hand at whatever seems easiest! Or better yet, ask your new friends to give you their favorite recipe. Maybe they want to help you with the prep work?
  • Introduce your new buddies to your favorite recipes from home. Go crazy. Think Mac and Cheese and Nachos, or a chili bar! 
  • Try a potluck. Invite your friends over, provide beverages, and encourage everyone to bring their favorite dish. It's a great conversation starter!
Did you host a dinner party? Which approach did you choose? I love to try my hand at local dishes, but for a no fair gathering I always resort to my home favorites, because no one knows better! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mini Mission # 17 - Buy Local Dress

Hi all!

Sorry for the hiatus. I was on a family trip to the USA for the first time with our 4 month old baby boy Charlie - we went to visit my Grammy and for a friend's wedding - it was exciting to travel overseas with a baby, and not even as stressful as I thought! But time for blogging there was not...

Alas, I am back with another thursday mini mission for you. It's a bit of a hokey one, but I think it's a lot of fun.

Local dress is more popular in some places than in others. Here in Bavaria, Tracht like Lederhosen and Dirndls has become increasingly popular in recent years, and I know hardly an Expat who doesn't have a set to wear at least to Oktoberfest and other beer festivals throughout the year. But even in other countries where local dress might not be quite as trendy, there are still lovely traditional outfits to be had.

For this mission do some research and buy yourself something local to wear. You don't need to buy an entire outfit - perhaps a pair of traditional sandals or a fancy hat will do the trick? The challenge of this mission is finding the item you are looking for - you may even have to visit a seamstress or tailor to get the job done - but I guarantee you will be rewarded with a really special keepsake and a never fail conversation piece.

Did you buy something? What is your favorite piece of local dress?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mini Mission # 16 - Visit the Market

Markets are the first place I visit when I arrive in a city. They are my absolute favorite way to get an exclusive (and delicious!) glimpse into local life. But buying stuff at the market? Way. Scary. Similar to buying bread, purchasing items at the market can be pretty darn terrifying. The vendors talk quickly, there are hoards of people standing in line behind you, and there are no convenient price tags. But successfully obtaining the ingredients for a lovely picnic at the market - that is one fantastic feeling.

For this mission, head out to your local market - if you're brave, pick the loudest most bustling one - and buy some great food for an afternoon picnic or your evening dinner. Required language skills are minimal - you'll need your numbers, the names of a few food items and your good old pointing finger. If you visit the market often, you might even become a regular!

Was your market excursion successful? Which stand is the most intimidating? For me, it's the meat vendor!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mini Mission # 15 - Order In

A telephone call in a foreign language is a terrifying thing. All the usual helpful nonverbal cues are missing and it's just you, the handset, and the voice at the other end of the line. This mission is meant to introduce you to the world of making a phone call in a foreign language in a controlled environment, and the bonus is that you can to enjoy some delicious delivery food as a reward.

The first step for the mission is to choose your delivery restaurant, find the menu online (or scan the pile of paper ones that surely land in your mailbox weekly), and choose what youd like to order. Refresh your vocabulary with numbers, the word for delivery and your address, and dial that phone! Don't worry, you'll do just fine - order what you'd like, hang up, and double cross your fingers that you got the message across. You'll find out when your order arrives at your door (or not!). 

Were you able to successfully order food? What is your favorite take out cuisine? In Germany, I like to order Thai food or Sushi for a change of pace...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mini Mission # 14 - Chat with an old person

Doesn't this Bavarian man look helpful?
Via Fotocommunity
Age is relative - but generally, the older the wiser. In my experience, the older generation is always very pleased to chat - at the supermarket in line for checkout, on the street when asking for directions, at a museum while strolling through an exhibit. It might be intimidating at first, since very often older folks don't speak English (you won't even have to say no!) but these are the people you want to be talking to - they have the best stories, the greatest sense of humor, and can tell you all about the "good old days".

For this mission, chat up an older person - you get to decide what qualifies as old, but I'd say go for someone that looks like they are at least at retirement age. What to say? Well, a good gateway is often to offer help. Hold a door, carry groceries, pick up a dropped item, and then reminisce for a few minutes how the days of chivalry are long gone. Or just smile and comment on the weather. Or ask directions. Pull all your small talk tricks out of the bag! You can do it, use the local language, struggle through, smile and nod, and then give yourself a BIG pat on the back.

Did you chat with someone? Tell your story!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mini Mission # 13 - Go on a Photo Safari

Photo by me, taken on my public transit photo safari
Sometimes, a camera can be a really helpful way to observe your surroundings from a different point of view. This mission is all about changing perspective. Grab your camera (or even just your cell phone with camera function) and get snapping.

It helps to have a theme for your photo safari. Here are some ideas:
  • unusual doors
  • graffiti
  • interesting faces
  • fascinating transit stations
  • local food
  • tourist favorites from a new angle 
  • pets and their people

What did you photograph? I love taking pictures of interesting caf├ęs - the photos are great, and it helps me remember them later when I am looking for a cup of coffee. 
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