Make Yourself a Good Spreadsheet

A lot of times, you are relocating, your company is paying for everything until you get there, then what?

  • How are you going to know that it's the right move?
  • What if you are moving somewhere more expensive than where you are now?
  • What if you own a home right now, but you will have to rent?
  • What if you drive 30 miles to work now, but the new office is right around the corner to your dream neighborhood and you could cycle to work everyday? But rent is a little too much?
  • What if, like London, the benefit of living far from the city centre is the rental/mortgage prices, but then you will probably pay the equivalent to a second rent with public transport?

My answer to all of these questions is, make a spreadsheet. Have it all on paper, in front of you, so you can make the best informed decision for you and your family. Even if you are moving somewhere to study, or if you are moving on your own, especially if you don't have a company backing you.

I've prepared this spreadsheet to make it easier when deciding. I have it in PDF format and excel format because it will make it much easier to edit the categories. Be honest with yourself and let's get to work!

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.


Types of Visas in Brazil

I've never needed a visa to go to Brazil, but I did some research in case someone stumbles upon this cute blog of mine. A few notes taken straight from the Brazilian's consulate website:

  • Citizens of countries with which Brazil does not maintain diplomatic relations, applying for any type of visa, will receive a special travel document – “LAISSEZ-PASSER”- issued by the Consulate to each individual, with prior approval of the Brazilian Government. Approval of visas for citizens of countries with which Brazil does not maintain diplomatic relations usually takes from 2 to 4 weeks. After approval, the processing time is up to 5 (five) working days. Please plan accordingly! The Consulate General of Brazil in Los Angeles does not process same day visas (no rush fee!). The "Laissez-Passer" and the corresponding visa are good for multiples entries for the duration of the visa.  
  • Long-duration visas (valid for 5 or 10 years, for instance) are valid from the day they were issued. Short-duration visas (valid for 30 or 90 days, for example) are valid from the date of first entry into Brazil. All visa holders, regardless of nationality or visa validity date, may only stay in Brazil for up to 90 days a year, unless otherwise noted on the visa. An extension of the original 90 days may be granted by the Federal Police Department in Brazil, yet total stay cannot exceed 180 days a year, unless otherwise noted.

First check out this list provided from the consulate to see which type of visa you can get, then read below.

Entrance Visas to Brazil

There are 8 types of visas:

1) VRT - Temporary residency - For nationals of any of the MERCOSUL's countries - valid for 2 years, with option of being upgraded to a permanent visa.

2) VIPER - Permanent visas Anyone wanting to move to Brazil permanently.

3) VITEM - Temporary visas - Anyone going to Brazil to study or work temporarily. There are 6 types of the temporary visa - You must have a return ticket - Proof of financial capability and (but not limited to) FBI or local police dept. clearance.

4) VITRA - Transit visas - If you are travelling to a different country, but must enter in Brazil for a connection flight.

5) VITUR - Tourist visas - Any tourist looking to spend up to 90 days in Brazil.

6) VICOR - Courtesy visas - No idea what this is for, I couldn't find any information on the consulate's page.

7) VISOF - Official visas - Anyone taking part of an official (govt related) visit.

8) VIDIP - Diplomatic visas - Anyone in a diplomatic mission to Brazil.

All information was taken from Consulate-general of Brazil in Los Angeles and Itamaraty Portal Consular.

What I didn't Know About Paddington Bear

We went to see the movie Paddington. 2015-01-17 17.22.45

It was brilliant! I was laughing the whole time, it's so cute. Plus it shows all over London, so how can it go wrong?

Much more than that though, during the movie, one scene in particular, I realized Mr. Paddington Bear was an expat! I never thought of it this way, and I don't want to give anything away, but through out the movie he went  through the "Crosscultural Adjustment Stages" (some people say 4, some say 5, I say 6).

6 Stages of culture Shock

1) Anxiety

When you are already set to go, all of these emotions are going through you, anxiety, excitement, nervousness, doubts... All at once, and there is no turning back, that's it!

2) Honeymoon

You arrive at the place, everything is new, everything is amazing, everything is just how it's supposed to be.

3) Disappointment

When you realize that things aren't as you expected. You think people are rude, or the city is dirty, or you can't learn the language as easy. You feel like you made the wrong decision.

4) Adaptation

You start to feel better as you get into a routine and life gets back to normal, somehow.

5) Isolation

Everything sucks, you want to go home, you miss your friends, your family... Nothing is like it is back home and you don't like it.

6) Acceptance

You finally feel like you belong here. You are enjoying the whole experience and life is good again.

I really tried to find out who came up with these and the original names and all, but I couldn't find. I just found loads of sites all calling it something different, so if someone knows who first came up with these stages, let me know in the comment box.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

6 Stages

Where are You Moving To? There Might Be an Event Going on.

Every country has events through out the year, and with this blog, I want to provide information to not only people trying to move abroad, but those who are living elsewhere in this vast world of ours as well. I thought it would be cool to do a printable on events per month through out the world, and I tell you... it was a lot of work! But I enjoyed it, it was fun. Of course, I am aware that festivals, events will be missing, but it's a list that I plan on updating every year, so if you don't see a major event this year, let me know and it will make the cut next year.

Right now I have January's list (sorry for the delay), I hope you will enjoy it and who knows, there might an event near you that you didn't know about...

January world festivals 2015


ps- If you also see any mistakes, please let me know.