The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When East Meets West: Hosting an International Visitor

By: Brittany S

As an American citizen from the Midwest living in Korea, I have found some things about Korean (and Eastern culture in general) culture to be very similar to my own.  However, there is a lot that is very distinct of our respective regions and at times, they clash.

For anyone who has done any research on Koreans’ perspectives on foreigners in Korea, you know that Koreans are generally accepting of us being here, but they have their preferences (the closer you are to the Eurocentric standard of beauty—particularly blond hair, blue eyes, the better), as well as their restrictions (they really dislike when foreigners date their women).  Because of this open, but close-minded mentality, oftentimes, Koreans struggle to understand the African American population.  People of all ages (from my elementary school students to the random old lady on the bus stop) always TELL me that I am African, particularly S. African (as that is the only African country that can hold an English teaching position here).  Also, given that a Eurocentric standard of beauty of being thin as a rail, pale as a ghost, and having long, straight, silky hair doesn’t exactly match an Afrocentric one of “my Black is beautiful” and being curvy is actually being a GOOD thing and curly hair that grows towards the sky, there have been plenty of times that I’ve caught people taking pics of me or rubbing my skin as if I’m some freak of nature. All of this simply because they just don’t understand how I came to be.
They were once afraid to be near me, now they hug me daily.
            So here I am, the only little chocolate chip in the cookie, being the spokesperson of not only my country, but of my ethnic heritage (I’ll let you figure out which voice is louder).  Any opportunity I get I make sure to stress that America has more than “Susans” and “Toms,” but people like Jamal, Keisha, Miguel, Muhammad, Fangbai, EunHwa, Pierre, Natalia, and others make up our “melting pot” as well.**  It’s particularly important to me that they understand that Black people are a HUGE part of American society, and that White people do in fact live in S. Africa.  When I teach, I make sure to encourage my students to love their Asian selves and stop trying to look White.  I also try to open their eyes to other countries beyond Japan & China, or Britain & Australia.  I want them to see value in other people and places, and not just think of them as “other.”  I recently had the pleasure of hosting one of my former students in America.  She was so open and curious about me and (my version of) American life that I just gave her as much of it as I could in our short time together.

            My former student (who is now a sophomore in college and my friend) came to stay with me for the 9 days that I was in America and enjoyed every minute of it.  Although her English speaking is not the greatest, her comprehension and willingness to try are stellar.  It was funny watching 95% of my family BUTCHER her name, even though I said it slowly several times.  They all decided to give her a nickname (her whole name is the length of my first name, yet they gave her a nickname) to avoid any further slaughter.  They embraced her as a part of our family, and made her feel right at home with love-filled hugs.  Here are the things we did:
Visited most of my relatives (all grandparents, parents, and most of my aunts and cousins):  here she was fed everything from a hot link and vinegar chips to spinach artichoke dip and lasagna; all of these foods are not common in Korea and definitely go against her Korean diet.  I warned her about weight gain!
With my Granny. No visit is complete without a grandmother's cooking!  They are almost the same height and color!  We aren't so different after all...

Went to “Sweetie Pie’s”: I figured this was the quickest way to get her to a soul food spread.  I had her to try the cabbage (since Koreans eat kimchi=fermented cabbage), she didn’t like it but she devoured everything else.
Hey Mikey! I think she likes it! :-)

Went to the St. Louis City Museum and Dave & Buster’s:  There’s a big kid in all of us and no matter what language you speak, we all like large playgrounds and arcades :-)
My sister got stuck!

Went SHOPPING: Oh c’mon, who DOESN’T go shopping in another country?!  Also, Koreans are REALLY into fashion.  She felt proud that she will go home with exclusive “American style” clothing.
I would soooo love to see someone wear these...

Visited my university:  she had never seen a university so big (mine has its own zip code) and my home from my school and her’s from her’s are equidistant (2hrs), yet she makes that commute daily for classes and we consider that distance “away from home.”
With my mommy :-)

Went to a Step Show:  Stepping is popular among African Americans and is one of our ancestral ties to the Motherland.  I thought it would be interesting to show her that although we incorporate Africa in our culture, that we are in fact different.  Her eyes lit up.  She recorded videos and everything.

Went  to a Korean restaurant & noraebang (singing room):  It was nice to give her the taste of home she was missing while exposing my family to my new culture.
(L) I missed the family-size portions in Korea :-(  (R) I don't think she was ready for how passionate we get with a mic.

Went to a club/party?:  NOPE. Poor baby was so tired from all our running around that she slept in.
Lucky! I had to DRIVE everywhere!

Taught her how to play “Bones” (dominoes) and do “The Wobble” and others:  I was proud of her!  We need to work on her trash talking haha but she was timidly calling her points.  And here’s a little secret—Koreans love line dancing, too!  Go to a Korean club and see!  So now she knows how to do OUR line dances.
Went to Steak n Shake, Jack in the Box, Sonic’s, Wendy’s, & IHOP:  I had to let her know that America has more favorites than McDonald’s, Burger King, Baskin Robbins, and Dunkin Donuts (all found all around Korea).  Each time she ordered a lot of food and finished it all!  In Korea, the most I’ve ever seen her eat was an order of samgyupsal (Korean BBQ that looks like thick bacon)!

When I asked her what she thought about everything and how she was doing, her eyes always seemed enthusiastic, and although she couldn’t say more than “GOOD!” I knew she was loving her time in my world and that when she returns to Korea, she will be one more voice for Black people, Black Americans, and Americans in general.  All it takes is an open mind and heart and the rest will follow.  If you have the opportunity to enlighten someone about something very important to you, I encourage you to do it.  Each one, reach/teach one.  She’s my “one” in Korea.  But I’ll be here another year.  Who’s coming home with me next?

**This is in no way meant to stereotype people, rather, to speak to the popularity of these particular names among certain races in America.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Life in Oman: Is it the Right Choice for You?

by:  eternitysojourner

Mutrah Port in Muscat, Oman
Two years ago this week, marks the anniversary of my arrival to Oman.  I vividly remember exiting the airport, being smothered by Muscat’s humidity, and winding through curious and imposing mountains along the highway.  With time, what seemed strange and intriguing, then, has become comforting and familiar.  I’ve given birth here, explored various landscapes, and made lasting connections with both citizens and expatriates.  For me, Oman was the right choice but what about you? Our Sistas in Oman shed some light on life in the Sultanate but here are a few prerequisite questions to ask yourself before accepting an offer and making your move.

How do I feel about living amongst Muslims and Arabs?
Oman is a gentle introduction to the Muslim world.  There is no real political strife or unrest.  Yes, there were occasional protests in northern Oman at the tail end of the Arab Spring but nothing the likes of instability or revolution.  Additionally, Omanis tend to be very non-confrontational in their expression of faith; so more times than not, you won’t find yourself in aggressive or heated debates about religion, unless you disrespect their faith.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman
How conservative can I be?
Feel free to pack your tube skirts and tank tops, but keep in mind that they’re best worn in the privacy of your own home.  Generally, visitors and residents are advised to avoid sleeveless or low cut shirts, as well as skirts, pants, or shorts above the knee.  Even men are asked to skip the Speedos when out swimming.  More conservative attire would be warranted when visiting mosques or rural regions, but I don’t know of any legal penalty for dressing otherwise.

Muscat, Oman’s capital city, would be the hub for “nightlife”.  If you like to party or drink, there are selective places like hotels, clubs, etc. where both are allowed.  Outside of designated establishments, many expats choose to apply for a liquor license and drink in private gatherings.

During Ramadan, while Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, drinking or eating in public is discouraged and considered inconsiderate.  More practically, due to altered business hours, you may find that you’ve also adopted a “Ramadan schedule” for your outings and eating.

For the lovebirds amongst us, public displays of affection are uncommon, beyond holding hands or loving glares.  Who you choose to love is your business and, in Oman, where you choose to love them should also be your personal business.

How do I cope with heat?
Oman has a good deal of heat for you to enjoy.  Between May and September, temperatures are regularly above 100oF (38oC), so midday outings are discouraged.  Fortunately, just about every indoor environment is air conditioned and electricity supply is consistently delivered throughout most parts of Oman.  If that kind of heat is unfathomable to you, look for work in Salalah- a region in the far south of Oman that enjoys moderate weather year-round with a summer monsoon season.

Can I live in the desert?
Be of good cheer, friends!  Oman is not just one big desert!  There are beaches, mountains, waterfalls, and wadis (ravines) to discover throughout.  The greenest of times is from June to September, in the far south of Oman during the khareef or monsoon season.   You’ll be amazed to see rolling green hills and misty mornings that remind you of Ireland.
Misty Morning in Salalah, Oman
What will I eat?
Oman has a great variety of all types of food.  Delicious local and foreign produce, a variety of fresh meats and fish, veggie-friendly offerings, and imported comfort foods are all at your fingertips in the major cities and towns.  In the capital city, you can satisfy your craving for everything from Thai to Moroccan food.  Even major American fast food chains and restaurants have migrated to this part of Arabia!
Swahili food in Sohar, Oman
What will I do?
Other than work, there are all kinds of organizations to be involved with.  You can pick up a new language, take in a movie, enjoy the opera, ride a horse, scuba dive, and do your fair share of “tree hugging” here.  If all of what Oman has to offer still ranks low on your adventure-meter, you are perfectly situated for great travel options to the Middle East, East Africa, South Asia and Europe. 
Hiking in Sur, Oman
How will I get around?
Unless you want to rely on taxis and the occasional long distance bus, having your own ride is the way to go.  Car rentals are very easy with a foreign driver’s license but purchasing a car will require an Omani driver’s license.  Possessing a current foreign driver’s license from most countries for at least a year allows you to obtain an Omani driver’s license without a road or written examination.  Some jobs provide shuttle transportation, so you may not have to worry about commuting to work.

Can I save?
There are plenty of middle-aged professionals from the West that are living well and saving for retirement here.  Many find it easy to save without a penny-pinching budget.  If you live outside of Muscat, you may find more attractive salaries and packages that include housing, annual round-trip airfare for you and your family, and health insurance.  Add those perks to a lower cost of living, and you can make bank here!  As with most Gulf countries, the vision for the future is to reduce dependence on foreign workers and phase out expatriate employees.  Until then…come get your slice of the Omani pie while the pickings are good!

How will I communicate?
Oman is functionally bilingual: websites, road signs, official documents, shop names, etc. will almost always be in both English and Arabic.  Sometimes the English displayed on road signs may be inconsistent, but the government is working on it.  Outside of major cities and towns, you may find that many people are not fluent in English but you can usually get by with little to no Arabic.

Where should I live?
If you want to maximize your social life, try to stay in or near Muscat.  If you can stand the summer humidity, Muscat, Sohar, Sur, and Salalah are all coastal cities.  If you prefer a drier climate (both literally and figuratively!), consider Nizwa or Ibri.

Can I make an impact?
Oman is a wonderful nation that has progressed rapidly in the last few decades.  Previous generations left Oman in pursuit of quality education, health care, and a higher standard of living, but many have since returned.  Oman is catching up to the world, so to speak.  College enrollment is on the rise and you may have the opportunity to teach first generation university students--the majority of which are women.  Unlike other regions of the Gulf, not all citizens of Oman are wealthy and even if they lack the maturity of third or fourth generation academics, many are learning to appreciate the virtue of higher education and gaining greater access to the wider world as a result.

It can’t be all good in Oman, can it?
Every rose has its thorn and Omani roses are no different.  There are social problems that may not readily come to light, high incidences of traffic-related deaths, and biases that favor citizens over expats.  There is a general lack of environmental concern, outdated approaches to early education, and lacking accommodations for students with special needs, BUT Oman’s growth is in progress- steady but not stagnant.  Even if you decide that life in Oman is not right for you, you should at least consider a visit when you’re in the neighborhood.  J

Feel free to ask questions or add your experience of life in Oman in the comments.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Surviving Your First Overseas Flight

June, 2012

added from google images

The big day has arrived – a holiday in a far away foreign country. You are all packed and ready to go. You have your passport, plane ticket, and some way to pay for your next few weeks. You are nervous an anxious and ready to go. Here are a few pointers to make your long flight a little more pleasant.

Before you go.

Pack as light as possible. You should have no more than two suitcases and one carry-on. If you are going to a tropical climate it will be even easier packing shorts and T-shirts. And, you can always pick up some new clothes at your destination.

Ensure that you have all of your medications and copies of your prescriptions. Check on the latest rules for carrying liquids in your carry-on. The rules and regulations change with the weather – so keep current.

Re-confirm your flight. My last trip was almost delayed by a day or two as a typhoon hit Taiwan and my flight from Hawaii was going through Taipei. I scrambled and got my flight changed to one that went through Tokyo, Japan and managed to get to Thailand as scheduled. I didn’t check ahead of time and fortunately was able to get on a different flight. I learned my lesson. While re-confirming, get your seat assignment. I prefer exit rows for more legroom.

Double check that you have everything. I use a checklist and check it 2 or 3 times before I go. Really make sure that you have your passport, tickets and some way to pay – cash, ATM card, credit card or traveler’s checks. A combination is a good way to make sure that you have alternative means of paying. If you are going to a country that has its own currency, plan to exchange a day or two’s worth at the destination airport. Don’t change money in your home country – you will get a terrible rate.

At your home airport

added from google images
Plan to get to your airport about 3 hours ahead of your flight departure. Check-in and security lines can be long and slow. Have your travel documents ready to show wherever you go. Again, check on the rules for what you can bring with your on the flight – especially in your carry-on.

I always eat at the airport before I fly. Things have gotten better and cheaper at airports and I prefer to have a meal in me and not rely on the airline food. I also bring some trail mix with me to munch on during the flight.

Take advantage of the duty free shops. Get your booze, cigarettes and other goodies for tax-free prices. Check the limitations at your destination country before you buy 6 bottles of whiskey and find out you are only allowed to bring in one. Also check to see if you can carry liquids on flights that have a layover or two. You may have to make your purchase at the layover before your last leg.

You can kill time playing with any electronic toys you own. Wireless access is usually available in the airports so you can check email and surf. You can also listen to some music if you have an Ipod of something similar. Wireless can be found in most airports right outside the Airline lounges. You don’t have to be a member to sit outside and tap into their unsecured network.

On the flight

added from google images
Try to relax and sleep as much as possible. The time zone changes and jet lag will be lessened. Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water, especially on longer flights. Dehydration comes easily on long flights in dry cabin air. You can drink booze when you arrive.

Read and watch a movie to kill time. Do some of the puzzles in the on-board magazines. Keep busy as much as possible. Have some mints and gum to alleviate the air pressure during take-off and landing.

I usually avoid the main course of the airline food. I do eat the salad, bread and dessert. The main meal is rarely edible. This is why I eat before I go and eat my own snacks.

You will have to fill out a customs declaration form on the plane to turn in to the Custom’s officer. Do this on the plane and stick it with your passport.


Head out of the plane as quickly as possible. You and everyone else will have to go through Immigration/Customs – so the race is on. Hopefully, you were given instructions before deplaning. If not, just follow the signs. Don’t stop to smoke or use the bathroom. Get in the shortest line and have your passport ready. Keep a copy of your boarding pass with you, just in case.

Be pleasant and polite to the Custom’s officer, get your passport stamped, turn in your customs declaration, and head for the luggage carousels. Make sure you have your own luggage and find the currency exchange.

Change enough money to last you a day or two. ATMs are conveniently located around the world, so a debit card is the easiest way to get local currency. It can be a little more risky using a credit card. Get your money and head for the exit.

Find the taxi or bus line and head to your hotel. You made it! Now, enjoy your vacation.

Copied with permission from: http://plrplr.com/65473/surviving-your-first-overseas-flight/

Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 10 Things I Didn't See Coming...

August, 2012-Lovenia Leapart  

When I decided to move abroad:

1) That I would change my mind so many times about what country I wanted to go to.
Yes, research is important, but it can also be a double edged sword given the many, varied, and conflicting pieces of information out there about what it's like to teach and live in different countries.

2) That I'd actually get to the point where I'd be totally fine with not knowing what country I'd eventually end up living in.
When I first made the decision last fall that, Yes! I'm ready to finally allow myself the opportunity to live abroad! - There was only one place I was seriously considering, and that was Hong Kong. Briefly, I considered Indonesia, and then it was a close race between S. Korea and China, with China making the winning offer in the end.                                               

3) That the recruiters would be almost more of a hindrance than a help in my job search. And that I’d eventually land a job without the aid of any recruiters. There were only 2 recruiting companies that I knew about when I began my job search and for the first few months, my job search consisted of looking only for more suitable recruiters.  The idea of finding a teaching job abroad on my own didn't even cross my mind at the time.
4) That almost everything that could come up to nickel and dime my savings would lay in waiting until just the right moment when it would be able to compete with the things I would need to prepare for my move abroad. A state tax bill cropping up from a filing 2 years ago, my desktop computer catching a virus that cost $$ to get rid of (just when I was starting to get offers for Skype interviews), then 6 weeks later an electrical storm blowing it out despite the surge protector (the computer was given to me, so maybe it wasn't in the best shape to begin with), the battery on my laptop gasping its last breath, having to buy my mother a new washing and dryer for her the new place that she had to get because of my moving abroad due to my brother deciding to flake about doing it, movers paid by the hour who worked as slow as molasses due to the 100 + degree heat wave during the weekend of my move, and an apartment manager who charged me (albeit, a relatively small amount of cash) a day of additional rent because I didn't turn in my keys Sunday (the day my lease ended) by 5pm, and turned them in on Monday morning instead.

Then I saw these 3 little guys singing by my doorstep…
Ha! Just kidding!  But I did hear a quote that went something like this – “Everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”  And that kind of put things in perspective for me…

5) That more people would think what I was doing was cool than would think it was crazy.
I was genuinely surprised and extremely pleased and heartened by the support and encouragement I received by virtually everyone, including my more conservative/cautious family and friends.

6) That my Mom would be as supportive and encouraging. Though she never said one word to discourage me, she seemed to feel more resigned about the move then happy about it at first. But in time, she really grew to become pleased by the idea, proudly telling folks, "My daughter's going to teach abroad." whenever the opportunity arose. And during those times when I got discouraged and began to doubt my decision, she stepped right up and offered the encouragement I needed to get back on track.

7) That I'd go from allowing myself to make this decision purely for financial reasons to making it from almost an entirely intuitive standpoint.
At first, the justification for allowing myself to considering going abroad rested purely on the potential for financial gain. I thought, how else can you justify doing such a thing at your age? But in time, an internal transformation took place in me as began to see a deeper, wider scope of possibilities in this decision, and it allowed me to understand that if moving abroad was something I felt deeply compelled to do, that I didn't need justification.

 8) That in planning and preparing for this journey, this adventure would make me feel so young (not that I'm old mind you, but I haven't felt this kind of nervous optimism since graduating college umpteen years ago). So many things about the experience of making this move abroad came about were so brand new to me, and the process has opened up what seems like a whole new world of opportunities I might explore that I'd never even thought possible for myself before. The exhilaration of that fills me with this profound kind of wonder and a new sense of adventure.
9) That fears and insecurities from days and jobs past would rise up to the surface whenever things advanced in a positive direction towards this actually happening. It freaked me out at first, made me back away from an opportunity that in retrospect would have been fine for me to accept. But this life is all about lessons and as long as I continue to remain willing to face my internal challenges, I know that God will continue to give me opportunities to work at overcoming them - hence, the opportunity that is resulting in my move to China!

10) That in recognizing said fears and insecurities and plowing ahead anyway, I would come to understanding that I wouldn't have been able to do it, if I hadn't already had experience in doing just that. Meaning, fears never go away, but the more you push through them and move ahead despite them, the easier it becomes to do it. Just like ANY worthy skill in life, the more you practice something, the better you get at it.
Besides, like they say,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Women of Color Living Abroad: Brittany Smotherson 08/18 by Expat Women Radio | Blog Talk Radio

Women of Color Living Abroad: Brittany Smotherson 08/18 by Expat Women Radio | Blog Talk Radio

Monday, August 13, 2012

Expansion.....We're Going to Radio!

August, 2012—Cha Jones

Hello readers! I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who takes time to read the Women of Color Living Abroad blog. If you are a regular, you know that our bloggers are all around the world having many different experiences. As a former expat myself, who returned home on vacation and ended up in a head-on collision and hasn’t been able to return to my expat lifestyle as of yet, I will admit I envy the other contributors who are still able to live a life of traveling and adventure. However, it is my pleasure to work diligently to provide our members and our readers with different products and services to help make living abroad simpler.

So, in my effort to continue to be effective even while I am away from the international scene I have decided to start an online blog radio show which will broadcast every other week on Blog Talk Radio.
Are you one of our readers who are interested in moving abroad but have some unanswered questions?  Are you currently living abroad but would like to know about other options and opportunities beyond teaching English as a second language, then I am hoping that you continue to read the stories and get the tips here. However, I hope you also add our radio show for your listening pleasure. Get more information, tips, stories and resources from travel experts, industry leaders, recruiters, and the women and men who actually living, working and studying abroad.  

We ask that you follow us on Blog Talk Radio and make sure you come listen to our first show where I will be interviewing our very own contributing blogger Brittany Smotherson Expat Women Radio Online Radio by Expat Women Radio | Blog Talk Radio August 18th at 10pm (CST) or if you are in Korea, then you can catch the show at 12 pm LIVE.

Again, I’d like to thank you all for supporting us and please continue to look for all the upcoming changes that we are incorporating in the next few months.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just Get Over It!!!

By Breian S. Brockington

You've finally made the decision. You got on a plane, walked through immigration, collected your bags and stepped into your new journey. Welcome, to living the expat life.

Fast forward a few months and the euphoria has worn off. Your neighbors have grown accustom to your loud music. You've gotten acquainted with the local food and you can even ask for what you want in the local language. But for some odd reason, EVERYTHING IS PISSING YOU OFF. You can't ride the subway without unwanted eyes always trained on you. You're thinking "Haven't you seen a ... person before?" I get it; you just want to blend in. Well I'm here to tell you, unless you've moved to a country where the majority looks like you...tough break. You may as well Get Over It.

I loved living and working in Bucheon, South Korea, it was an awesome experience. This is where I discovered "walking neighborhoods", partying until 7a.m., and my neighbors were the best. They never complained about my loud American music (I'm certain they were rocking along with me). They even rode in the ambulance with me when I took ill. However, there was one thing I couldn't stand while living there. Someone always wanted to touch my hair. Do I look like an art exhibition? Have you never seen a Black woman's hair before? Well, actually yes, and no. Depending on your ethnicity and where you decide to go you will be considered an art exhibition. The only difference being you're alive and they are allowed to touch (if given permission). Humans are curious by nature; it’s a part of who we are. When you want to see if something is real, what's the first thing you do? You touch it, smell it, or taste it, stare at it. If you've chosen a country or region where slanted eyes are the norm and here you are with your big round American eyes, let them stare, point fingers, even laugh. This is how culture barriers are crossed. Every now and then, let them touch your hair or skin. Don't get mad, just Get Over It!

Traditional Moroccan wedding attire

I've found that there is one thing Natives love. Natives love when you can speak their language. Yes, learning Arabic, French, Lingala, or Afrikaans can be difficult but that's an assignment you signed up for when you decide to live in said country. You'll find that your journey becomes less intense once you've begun learning the language. Now, nobody said you had to become fluent but making an effort is better than nothing. The people who live around you want to feel like you want to learn their ways and who they are as a people. Not everyone will be sensitive to your lack luster attempt to speak their language. Show a little effort and enthusiasm and you’ll see how many people are willing to assist you on your journey. I would suggest taking a class or brushing up on common phrases before arriving in your new host country. Yes, learning a language can be time consuming, but pointing and grunting just looks stupid. Get a book, a study buddy and hey.....Get Over It!!

Before embarking on my new journey my wardrobe was all over the place. Long dresses and a lot more revealing ones, high heels galore, and sheer tops, were the bulk of my wardrobe. But all of that changed. It had to because I was moving somewhere with a different set of norms. Firstly, I moved without transportation, which means I walked everywhere. Women who can walk all day in heels I salute you (and secretly laugh at you...Girl stop!) Those were the first to go. I am a cute, comfy flats girl all day. Also, in some places it’s cool to wear a short skirt but your upper half must be covered. In Morocco it's deemed OK to show "a little" skin and by little I mean your neck, maybe an ankle. Sometimes depending on where you live (big or small city), locals could be more or less tolerable to individual expression through dress. Has my wardrobe changed? Yes. Do I like it? Not all the time. But you have to find middle ground, and sometimes that middle ground is accepting what is expected of you so Get Over It and move on. Make friends with the locals, find out where everyone likes to shop and see if you can find a few staple pieces for your wardrobe.   

So many of us ESL teachers (and others) are diving head first into Arab and Asian countries for the money, then regret sets in because we have to change so much of ourselves. Do your research; decide if accepting someone else's norms and expectations is what you want to do. Whether you're moving to Asia, the Middle East, Africa or any of the other 4 continents, make sure it's the right move for you. Understand that if you're open to living as an expat, then you must be willing to change your mindset. Stop expecting a society that has functioned for century’s without you, to conform and accept your foreign ideals. To them you're just another over enthusiastic, arrogant, narcissistic, foreign douche. Check your self and (say it with me) JUST GET OVER IT!!!!!