Friday, April 03, 2009

Other Blogospheres, Other Worlds

If I click on my Firefox browser bookmarks, I can pull down a list of folders holding links to a wide range of different blogospheres. Today, to brighten up your day a bit from the sad state of the Iraqi blogosphere, I thought I'd share some of those links from my "Americans Abroad" series.

You will find Americans living in most of the countries around the world, and among them there will always be a blogging community. Each day, if you wish, you can find out what other Americans are experiencing in their new homes abroad. I'll start with a few selected links from my files for Americans living in China, Germany, and South Korea.

CHINA

Ben Ross's Blog: A Midwesterner in the Middle Kingdom. Born and raised in Kansas City, Ben moved to China, learned Chinese as he taught English, and his blog chronicles many of his experiences, from being on a TV game-show -- Fuzhou Foreign Idol (Part 1); Fuzhou Foreign Idol (Part 2) -- to working in a barbershop for a month -- Thirty Days in a Fuzhou Barbershop. Although recently relocated back to the US, he returns to China frequently for business and fun.

Matt Schiavenza: A China Journal. Matt, a young Californian from the Bay Area (and die-hard SF Giants fan), has been living in Kunming, China, for several years.

Jottings from the Granite Studio: A Qing Historian Reads the Newspaper. A Ph.D. candidate currently living and teaching history in Beijing.

Sinosplice: Try to Understand China. Learn Chinese. John is the founder of ChinesePod, a successful website for learning Chinese using podcasts.

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GERMANY

Observing Hermann. Very humorous look at German society through the eyes of an American in Berlin who has lived in Deutschland for a couple decades.

Heidelbergerin. An American woman originally from Iowa but now living and studying in Heidelberg along with her husband.

German Joys. Andrew is a law professor in Duesseldorf.

Germany Doesn't Suck: Or Does It? J. is an American teaching English near Bonn.

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SOUTH KOREA

The Marmot's Hole: Rantings of the ‘Korea-Dwelling Expat Blogger’s Version of Jimmy the Greek’. Robert Koehler is an editor who has been living in Korea for around ten years.

Mississippi to Korea. Jason has been living in Korea since 2005.

Brian in Jeollanam-do. This native of Pittsburgh, PA, has been in Korea for three years.

Going Places. Diana has been in Korea since 2007. In her blog entry "Revision Matters," she writes about a discussion she had with a Korean about the ways in which "hard work," important in both cultures, is viewed differently. Diana comments:
I love this kind of cultural exchange. In fact, a big reason that I left the U.S. to teach in Korea was my interest in learning about another culture by living in it. I have immersed myself in everything Korean: I try all the spicy food; I practice taekwondo; I study the language; I visit the temples; I make friends with the people. For the last year and a half, I have been trying to make sense of my adopted country, Korea, and usually I must do so by making comparisons with my homeland, America.

Although I thought I was coming here to learn about the world and another way of life, I find myself paying more attention to American issues than I did when I lived there. Unexpectedly, Ive discovered a hobby here in Korea that originated in my own land, swing dance. Suddenly, things that used to bother me about America (like our overly competitive society and eagerness to pretend there are no class differences at birth) are starting to make sense. I’m finding more and more that Edward T. Hall, a well-known anthropologist, was right when he said, “The real job is not to understand foreign culture, but to understand our own.”

Ironically, I had to move halfway around the world to begin to do just that.
As many of these bloggers have found out, like Diana, living in another country teaches you a lot not only about your adopted home but also about the culture in which you were raised. There will always be differences between cultures, but what one learns before too long is that those differences -- in behavior, values, and value hierarchies -- make sense within their respective cultures and have a long history.

These selected blogs, of course, represent just a fraction of those blogospheres. If you're interested in a particular group of bloggers living somewhere, I recommend checking out their blogrolls and creating your own bookmark folder so you can check in every few days to see what's going on with them.

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UPDATE: Here's a resource that allows you to find expat blogs from all over the world: Expat Blog. Click on any region of the world, select a country, and then explore the bloggers there. A little flag will indicate their nationality. You can check out their profile as well as their blog.

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For those of you who have been following Sahar Gabriel's articles for the NYTimes Baghdad Bureau, she has just arrived in the US: Arriving In America - The Other Side Of This War.

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