A Birthday 2 weeks After you Arrive in a New Country

A Birthday 2 weeks After you Arrive in a New Country

Victoria came home from school on Wednesday saying that her teacher told her she could bring a cake or cupcakes to school on her birthday (the next day). Actually we had this conversation at around 5:30 or 6 that evening. I asked her if she wanted to bring a cake, and she did, of course, what an idiotic question to an 8, now 9 year old, but one has to try, it's a 50-50% chance after all... Being the amazing and perfect mother that I am, cough, cough... I took her to the supermarket to get a pre-made cake. Yes, you heard it right, pre-made.

Home is Where the Heart Is... Literally


Earlier this year

I wrote a post about the different phases of cultural shock, where I showed a chart and explained what each phase represented. It's funny because the longer you live abroad, the easier it is to identify these phases on people around you and the easier it is for you to deal with your own emotions. We all miss home, some more than others, and it's inevitable that at some point longing for our home doesn't have the same effect that it did years before. Not that you don't miss home, or don't ever want to go back, but we all have a way of dealing with these feelings and we bury them somehow.

I remember working as a waitress in a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland when a Brazilian woman came down for breakfast.  We started a conversation and I clearly remember telling her how much I missed Brazil and that I wanted to go back no matter what (I'd been away for about 2 years). She had been away for about 18 years and she didn't miss it as much as I did, she said that she was happy living in France and she had no intentions of going back, unless she was visiting.  At the time, I was appalled. How could she say that? I felt betrayed, seriously, I didn't get it.
Fast forward many years, I'm on the other side of the spectrum.  It's funny that I can see some expat friends who at first would only hang out with people from their own country, they'd write in social media in their own language, and now, after a few years, they switched to English and are making friends with locals.

The whole point is,

living abroad is a process. Your mind goes through it, your whole emotional system goes through it. It takes time to adjust and to actually start enjoying yourself. That's why I truly believe that "Home is where the heart is". You might be living in Paris, but if you're not enjoying yourself, if you don't want to be there, it won't be fun.
Also, remember, enjoying living abroad, it doesn't mean you've forgotten about the country where you were born. And most importantly, you might love another country so much that you end up adopting it as your own. And that is ok as well.

Expectations vs Reality


I was looking on YouTube this morning (if you can call 4am morning when it's dark outside) searching for a video while I was having breakfast and the video below was on the fist page. The name caught my attention, so I started watching it. It's about this girl's first impressions of NY, after a few weeks. I thought it was hilarious because it's so true. Not only for NYC,  but London and in my opinion, anywhere you move to. When you decide to move, your mind is your enemy. It creates these fantasies on how life is going to be and it turns out the learning curve is steep.  Not that it isn't worth it, if you've read any of my posts, you know that I believe that moving anywhere is totally worth it, but you will be disappointed at some point.

Like Tess, the girl in the video, you watch movies, you see all those photos on social media and you have a completely misconception of reality, the way she made the video was very smart and funny. It doesn't mean she doesn't like it there, it's just that she moved and her expectations were completely off.

Any other major differences you guys can think off?

Here is the link back to Tess Christine on YouTube.

A Guide to Tipping in the USA

In most places I've lived, 10% of the final amount is added to the bill in a restaurant. If you go to a hairdresser, manicurist, you tip, but it isn't a percentage of the bill, just a flat amount (small), if you don't leave a tip you won't be chased down the street by a mad waiter/tress, yeap, I've seen it happened. In the US (& Canada) it's customary for you to leave a tip. It's not mandatory, but it's expected (read the last line on the paragraph above). After working in the hospitality and restaurant industry for so many years I understand why it's expected. Restaurant staff earns about $2/hr, who can live off of that?

I've learned to leave good tips. I always do, be it at the hairdressers, restaurants, bars, etc. And if someone from another country comes and visit, I always tell them to tip good. It wasn't always like that, I didn't realize how important it was, until I was managing a restaurant.

So, here is my little guide to tipping in the USA, you can print it too!

Flavia's Weekly Guide to Tipping in the


Note: I don't tip bad service, fast food joints, coffee shops where you stand in the queue to order or anywhere where there is no table service.