Some expat blogs are simple; some are ranting, and some are way too personal. Luckily, there’s another class of blogs from those living overseas.
These are the truly great blogs; the ones you can visit over and over. For sharp writing, quality photography, or wry humour, these blogs stand out from the pack.
[Editor's note: Blogs are not listed in any particular order; the list is not meant to be a ranking but rather a varied collection of blogs from around the world.]
Leslie Engle’s blog about her life and work in Laos is hilarious. Her photos are bright and simple, and she writes thoughtful posts like Mama You’ve been On my Mind, about family in Laos. Leslie works for Pencils of Promise, and writes with energy the grassroots changes that are happening with Laotian education. One post I particularly liked, about the frustrations of learning a language more slowly than you’d like, weaves wit into exasperation. Funny, funny stuff.
Mexican-American freelance writer Lesley Téllez takes delicious photos. You could say her site is a food blog, with great, witty recipe narratives like this Chile Mora Salsa. I’d call it a sensory site for Mexico City; bright photos, simple fresh food, and, in one post, the sounds from the street.
3. Danny Choo
UK-born Danny Choo works in software in Tokyo and takes bonkers photographs too. Choo’sJapan is electric, eclectic, and frantic in the best possible way. His Tokyo photo walk series is a balance of sparsity and density on the city’s neon streets. He also snaps a series of anime characters that is, funny, creepy, or sexy, depending on your cup of tea.
Celeste Brash is a travel writer who, until one month ago, lived in Tahiti for 17 years. She writes about traditional dance classes, Tahiti’s vineyards, and a great series on traveling French Polynesia by supply ship; road-trip style narratives about confused schedules and dolphin-spottings. A standout photo isJam Session at the Tahiti Immigration Office, a quick but potent look at French Polynesian character.4. Coconut Radio
This blog is by couple from Oregon who live and teach in Taiwan. I love the crowded photos of bright markets and moody cafes. Mostly, I love the fact that this blog is put together with zero pretentiousness. No backpacker bragging, no expat smugness: just pert, honest writing.
They cover the basics of an international teacher‘s everyday life; from oddly-flavored candies to the items they wish they had packed. If I were planning a move to Taiwan, I would comb this blog for tips. A favorite post: the simple photo of a tutu’d Taiwanese girlcelebrating her birthday.
I adore the format of Francis Strand’s blog. Each untitled entry tells a daily anecdote in the American expat’s life in Sweden; a strange phone call at work; observing two young men making eyes on the bus, a new landscaping project.
Each post concludes with a Swedish word of the day, an often wry one-word summary of the piece. My favorite post is the story of getting stuck in the ice during a Baltic boat ride. The word of the day? En förbannelse. It means a curse.
I love stories like American Carolyn Emigh’s, when a student moves to a new country to study for a semester or two, and ends up staying for years. For Emigh, studying has turned to teaching ESL. During her third year in Sofia, she explores the countryside and small towns with all the zeal of a backpacking undergrad. The enthusiasm and pretty photos from Rhodopes in Autumn can be triggers of wanderlust.
Liv is one funny writer. She spent three years teaching ESL in Japan and writing. Now, she’s living in her ancestral Italy, blogging with quick candor about stick shift driving lessons and noisy neighbors. One of my favorite posts is about cleaning out a wallet and unearthing travel mementos. Heartfelt but still witty.
Also, Liv’s Mini Japanese Culture Lessons are hilarious and helpful. I love her description of the Japanese “eeehh?”
This blog tracks an American family’s sabbatical in Croatia, where they trace their family roots. Each family member has their own page, giving the site a range of voices. Husband Jim narrates the food adventures. The kids blog about homeschooling and skiing for the first time. Wife Jennifer writes simple, vivid notes on everyday Croatian life, like in Starting Each Day with the Strike of a Match.
10. Here is Havana
Conner Gorry is an American journalist based in Cuba, whose writing is sharp and self-aware. A sample: “If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to kiss on the Malecón, go to the doctor for free, smoke tasty 5 cent cigars, or forgoe toilet paper for months [...], welcome to Havana.”
Her vignettes on relating to the neighbors and battling bugs are honest and beautifully written. I loved Keeping in Line, Cuban Style, a post about queuing for food rations in the aftermath of a hurricane. Her account of the hungry crowd is compassionate and dignified.