17 May 2009

Tips on Enjoying the Expatriate Life

This September to May in St Petersburg has been enjoyable. Now we are off to little Zaloza for the summer.

Last November... I started this blog about life in St Petersburg. While gathering information for the blog, I have posted to some interesting forums. Stumble Upon, which provides random sites to look at from the 'net, introduced me to Book Mooch, which is a wonderful addition to my expatriate life.

I use Google whenever I have a question, curiosity, or problem. Last fall I was frustrated that I knew few expatriates after so many years here, and did a Google search for expatriates in St Petersburg. One of the listings was for ContactExpats... search for old expatriate friends, and also start a blog for free. If it's free, It's for me! Later I realized that Contactexpats was missing some editing features, so I switched to the Blogger platform.

I registered with... WaytoRussia travel and expat forum. I put off making my first post, and was blocked, apparently for inactivity. I am still asking to be reinstated with no effective action from them. The other forum I joined last fall was ExpatRu, with a subforum about SPB. I quickly posted some comments to the forum, and decided to Google for other forums that include St Petersburg.

Forums send emails to me that are copies of replies to my posts, or activity on a topic. These include links to click to immediately return me to the right location to pen another reply.

Some forums have Russian participants, which is obvious by the phrasing they use, either missing or adding too many articles. Readers can be far away or in the same city. Some allow ads or self-promotion for free, such as for English teaching. I've received good information about the Russian keyboard, city livability, and learning Russian.

I am Loquacious, Robert7, or just my actual name appears. Recently I replied to a post from an American in St Petersburg, and got a private reply by forum email. This Russian lady and her American husband use the moniker the Great Penguin. You can have a funny or strange image placed next to your writing, or have a thumbnail photo ... which might be more surprising!

Here's some hot links to forums available for a curious expat.

JustLanded... glossy well organized world and country forums... including free classifieds
ExpatForum... the most active of them all, sponsored by an expat directory
EnglishRussia... leans towards humor, but also serious topics
RussiaClub... well organized
BritishExpats... subforum thread St Petersburg... intelligent posts
Moscow Expat... located at ww.expat.ru/forum/

Besides blogging... and forums, Book Mooch is wonderful! Blogging and forums are free, but Mooching requires a financial commitment.

John, a Californian that spent years in Europe, founded this internet club to make swapping books within countries and internationally easier. He's a good example of American ini
Though life is challenging in St Petersburg, since November it has been more interesting and fulfilling! tiative and the volunteer spirit, having spent many hours setting up and maintaining a remarkable system. Sure, people can order books new and used from Amazon, but here you are part of an international community of book lovers!

I feel lucky that St Petersburg has an English library, and two foreign language bookshops to boot. But I have a problem finding less popular titles of classic authors. Book Mooch's large membership often has just the book I want. Today I reviewed their Mooching recommendations, and requested books by Zola, Joyce, and Saroyan to be sent from France, Canada, and the Phillppines!

The system sheppards communication about a potential Mooch. You list books you are willing to send, and also your wishlist. The sender pays postage, the receiver gets the book free, and points are exchanged to keep expenses and contributions balanced.

I enjoy sending and receiving books all over, and the email correspondence is particularly pleasant and literate. Now I have plenty of just the paperbacks I want to take to the village. I'll bring them back to list on Bookmooch in the fall.

Although life is challenging in St Petersburg, it has been more interesting and fulfilling with blogging, posting, and Book Mooch.

Whether you are a fellow expatriate or not, think about the kind of blog you would enjoy writing, Google your interests to find forums you might enjoy, and check out the Book Mooch website. I hope these tips add some more fun to your life!

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