Digital Content at your Fingertips

When was the last time you had to think about where to buy a newspaper? Or whether your kids can find something to read over school vacation? Or how to view a movie you’ve been wanting to see?

Expats and business travelers may face these questions when they land in a new country, but technology has made access to media and books vastly easier than it was in the days when you had to scour newsstands for newspapers in your language, seek out consular libraries for books, and bring DVDs and a compatible player from home.

Now, content is in your pocket, on your tablet, on your laptop or desktop computer. Digital subscriptions, streaming video, and all manner of Internet news, entertainment, and social connections are accessible and portable.

What can you expect in your new host country or on your next business trip?

Streaming services

Watching streaming video on a personal device eliminates both the need for a television that’s compatible with the host-country standard and the limitation of viewing only local programs.

Millions subscribe to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which offer broad libraries of studio films in addition to proprietary content. Popular original series are produced by both services, and many viewers like to keep up on favorites even while traveling.

NOW TV offers video segmented into entertainment, cinema, kids, and sports programming for viewers in the U.K. Users can buy passes for one or more categories and can pause the pass(es) if they travel elsewhere. Hulu is another region-specific service, offering TV shows and movies to users in Canada, Japan, and the U.S. for a monthly fee.

For relocating families, having access to familiar shows can be a comfort, and one less thing that is different in the host country. Both Netflix and Amazon are available nearly worldwide, with main exceptions being China, North Korea, and Iran. Licensing laws and censorship continue to block international content in those countries, including sites like YouTube. Instead, China has its own services, like iQiyi and Tencent Video, both of which claim active users in the hundreds of millions.

While Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been used to access subscription content while abroad, Netflix began blocking that type of viewing in 2016, instead requiring subscribers to stream through the host country’s service. So, you may have to sign up anew if you move from one country to another for any length of time.

There are free video services as well, such as Sony Crackle and Tubi TV. These are advertising supported and not available everywhere. Crackle works in Australia, Canada, the U.K., U.S., and in 18 Latin American countries. Tubi TV works in Canada, India, South Africa, the U.K., and U.S.

Another free option is Hoopla, which is tied to your public library card and lets you check out movies, television shows, music, audiobooks, eBooks, and comics. Patrons may check out a certain number of titles per month. The maximum varies by library, but eight to 10 is common. Different borrowing periods apply to different media – 72 hours for most movies and TV shows, for example, and seven days for music.

Depending on where you are in the world, licensing can be an issue, if content – typically movies – are licensed only for a certain region, such as North America, for example. Often, a movie downloaded prior to travel can still be viewed abroad. Amazon has its own carousel of “Watch Abroad” titles for viewing by those outside the U.S.

Parental controls and kids’ zones are common in many services. These allow parents to block certain content by user, or to simply usher children into a kid-friendly section of the service. Some services offer different language options as well.

One final consideration is where you plan to watch. Most services work on a variety of devices and platforms, from iPhone, Android, Windows, Apple TV, and Chromecast to PlayStation, Xbox, and Roku. Check with any service you’re considering to find out if it will work according to your preference.


We are so accustomed to reading on our mobile devices these days that it’s hard to remember a time when this wasn’t possible. More often now, the challenge is not where to find print materials in your language, but how to manage the many channels of input from email, feeds, and online material.

Perhaps the easiest thing to access is your digital subscription to newspapers and magazines from a home-country or international news, entertainment, or special interest source. Various levels of information may be available for free, with premium content requiring a monthly or yearly fee. Again, censorship may come into play if you travel to a country with strict laws.

Local digital content also makes it easier to keep up with goings-on in the host country. Newcomers often sign up for alerts and updates from a news source or government service.

For any family member who likes to read, there are many ways to find digital material in your native language. Travelers can purchase content for reading on portable devices like smart phones, tablets, Kindle, and Nook. Downloading before travel may save you time and spare you Internet issues.

Free services like OverDrive and Hoopla work with your library account to provide access to millions of eBooks and audiobooks. Users must return items checked out via OverDrive, while Hoopla titles merely expire at the end of the borrowing term.

Books can be read on a computer, mobile device, compatible eReader, or MP3 player.  Hoopla Digital and Libby are the apps for Hoopla and OverDrive, respectively.

24/7 access

With so many options for viewing, reading, and listening to what you like — whenever you want – there should be a way for you and your family to happily consume digital content in your language, in any time zone you find yourselves.

Ellen Harris, GMS Product Manager, Content Group, Living Abroad, LLC

Why Business Traveler well-being is important for your company  

Frequent business travelers say their job satisfaction is directly tied to their business travel experiences.  According to a recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) survey, 59% of those looking for new employment state that a company’s travel policy is an important factor when considering a job opportunity. Not surprising is that almost 84% say that the caliber of their business travels directly translates to the success of the business trip.

The biggest challenge for business travelers is the time spent waiting to travel.  Delayed flights, non-direct flights, layovers, and other time wasters such as preparing an expense report, top the list and are all time consuming.

Enjoyable and pleasant hotels have a large impact on travel experience for global road warriors along with nonstop flights and receiving paid time off.  Many business travelers use their hotel room to continue working long after a meeting has ended, and hotel amenities and a comfortable room create a positive environment to get the work done.

Technology plays a certain role for happy business travelers and often enhances their travel experience.  High on the list is online destination information, like Living Abroad’s Global Business Travel Center, with access to over 150 destinations. Other time saving tools are mobile expense reporting, itinerary management apps, safety tracking apps, and apps for mobile payments.

Communication from the travel department can be seen as a plus if the right information is conveyed at the right time.  Some of the information business travelers have cited as perks are access to transportation options, information about the traveler’s destination, and internet availability.

Duty of care and corporate responsibility should also be conveyed to global travelers.  Ensuring your employees will be safe and secure no matter where they travel, especially in more remote locations, keeps them from suffering stress.  Duty of Care also includes keeping your business travelers healthy.  The most common threats to health are stress, sleep interruptions, unhealthy eating and drinking, and a lack of exercise, which are common side effects of being on the road.

Over the long-term, these issues can add up to chronic disease risks.  In addition, there is a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and physical and behavioral health risks.  Business travelers who spent 14 or more nights away from home per month had body mass index scores significantly higher than regular employees. These individuals often reported poor self-rated health, clinical symptoms of anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence, no physical activity, smoking, and trouble sleeping.

What else can companies do to keep their business travelers healthy?  A combination of employee education and improvements in employer policies around travel will help.  Through education, employees can learn to identify and select the healthiest options available.  Training in stress management approaches and sleep hygiene techniques can be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction training are therapeutic options that provide personal coping strategies and have been effective in managing depression, anxiety and workplace stress.

Keeping all these points in mind will help your business travelers to be successful and maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road.  After all, a healthy and happy employee will both save the company money and make it more profitable.

If you are located in the New York City tristate area, Living Abroad and KPMG are hosting a Duty of Care presentation from International SOS.  Dr. Quigley, M.D., D.Phil., Senior Vice President and Regional Medical Director, Americas Region, International SOS Assistance, Inc., and MedAire, will be the guest speaker.

To learn more about ways to support your global travelers, click here to register.

Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, Managing Director, Marketing & Business Development

Simplifying International Travel   

Whether you’re relocating your family a world away or taking a two-week business trip, wouldn’t you like to make your travel as simple as possible?

Here are some ways a subscription to the International Relocation Center (IRC) can help you do just that:

  1. For those facing a full relocation, use the Move Planner. This tool shows you a detailed, organized list of tasks that you can customize, sort, print, and view in any length you choose. You can also get email reminders when upcoming action is required or to deliver some useful IRC info.


  1. For the bulk of your relocation support content, you’ll choose your destination in the drop-down menu. Once in your report, open News Across the Web for quick access to health, headlines, currency calculator, weather, and holiday calendar. Right on the home page, these links inform you of any health issues and vaccines, remind you of the exchange rate, prepare you for weather, and help you plan meetings with the holiday calendar.


  1. Not sure where to find something? Search for it using the tool in the upper right. IRC content is organized and chronological, based on the flow of a typical relocation. But if you need to find something fast, the Search feature will speed you a list of all the places your topic is mentioned.



  1. Going on a shorter trip? Select Business Travel on the IRC homepage to get all the country-specific information you need, and none that you don’t. You’ll still find those helpful weather and currency links, along with descriptions of the business protocol and social customs that will help make your trip a success.


  1. Do you prefer to read an offline PDF, or want to share a paper copy with someone else?  Use the Print Report button in the top right. The Print function lets you print everything or make your own selections to create a custom report. Either way, it’s quick and easy, and you’ll have your desired information in hand.

These tips just scratch the surface of all the time you’ll save when you let the IRC help you. Prepare for business meetings, acquaint yourself with your host country, know what visa or permit you’ll need, find housing, choose a school, set up banking, learn how to get around and how to shop, how to stay healthy and what to eat. Whether you skim across the top layer of info or take a deep dive, your IRC exists to make your travel easier.

What practice may end in 2019?

What practice has the European Commission proposed an end to in 2019?

A. Tipping in restaurants
B. Seasonal clock changes
C. Highway speed limits
D. Cellphone use in airports


Who Doesn’t Love Trivia?

Living Abroad recently hosted the Forum for Expatriate Management holiday party with KPMG in New York City where attendees competed in teams to see who could answer the most holiday trivia questions. There were a total of 40 multiple choice questions.  The winning team (above) got 25 correct.

We thought it would be fun to share just ten of those questions.  How much do you know about holidays around the world?

How much time do you have off?

As we approach the end of 2018 and look forward to holidays, many workers are arranging to take their last vacation days of the year to travel, to welcome family into their homes, or to just relax.

How much time off you have to do that depends on a lot of things, including the country in which you work.

1) Which of the following countries has the most mandated vacation time?
2) Which has the least?

  1. Canada
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Spain
  4. Mexico
  5. United States

Cultural Bites…tasty or not?

Have you ever thought about how food impacts culture and helps define who we are?  Not just what we eat, but how it is prepared and how we eat it.  Is the food cooked over an open fire indoors, in a wok, a tajine, or stove?  Do we eat with our hands, with chopsticks, or a fork and knife?  All these components of preparing, serving, and eating food are a large part of culture.  It is one of the most visible differences we encounter when we travel.

Food, like many aspects of culture, carries connotations that tell us why certain foods and manners of eating are more appropriate.  For example, in older cultures, sitting on the floor to eat has been in existence long before chairs were invented, and it is believed that it is a better position for digesting food.   Did you know there is a difference between chopsticks?  Some have a square tip and others are very pointed.  The difference is based on the type of rice grains grown in that country.  Finer, smaller grains require a more pointed tip.  Food is a representation of our cultural identity that requires some deeper insights.

For expatriates, food can trigger culture shock and home sickness.  When I lived in Italy, I longed for a tasty hamburger and French fries.  When I lived in Malaysia, I missed my Sunday family meals of spaghetti and meatballs.  No matter where I lived or travelled there were certain foods I longed for, not just because of the taste, but because they represented comfort, safety, and predictability.  The food reminded me of who I was and where I came from.

Many immigrants bring the food of their home country with them, as a way of preserving their culture.  It is not unusual for them to open restaurants while enriching the local cuisine with new flavors and scents.  In the movie, “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” French and Indian cultures collide as a successful French restaurant resists a new Indian restaurant which opens across the street only a hundred feet away.  The resulting fusion of the two cuisines makes for a happy ending that can be a metaphor for cross-cultural understanding.

Food is the gateway to culture and helps us become more informed about others.  When doing business internationally, a shared meal can build trust, start lasting relationships, and bridge cultural gaps.  Being open to trying new foods from other cultures can broaden our horizons and introduce new flavors and new ways to enjoy the company of others when dining.

Written by Diane McGreal, Living Abroad Cultural Advisor

See It, See It, See It….Now, Say It!

In a world where so much of our communication relies on reading and writing, learning how to pronounce words that are new to you can easily slip through the cracks…and then, often suddenly, you need them. You might see the word Skadarlija many times in emails and Serbia guides, but what will you do — or rather, what will you say, when you ask someone in person for restaurant recommendations in that area of Belgrade? And while the Irish town of Dún Laoghaire thoughtfully provides a pronunciation guide on the “About” page of their website, called “What’s Up With the Name?” it includes this key fact: “Locals know instantly what the struggling tourists are trying to say but curiosity will keep them waiting to see what unique sounds tumble forth.”

Language learning and regular conversations with locals are crucial ways for the globally mobile to address this challenge, but what about those who support them from a distance? In any given day, you might need to know how to pronounce words ranging from Medan, the provincial capital of North Sumatra in Indonesia, to guayabera, the men’s short sleeved shirt that is popular in tropical climates. At lunchtime, you might even ponder the pronunciation of words like pho, chipotle, charcuterie, and gyro.

I found the pronunciation dictionary Forvo while researching how to pronounce Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. It’s quickly become one of my favorite pronunciation resources. There are crowdsourced audio “definitions,” and the national origins of the speakers are identified. Not everyone uses the same pronunciation of Qatar, the country that occupies the Qatar Peninsula in the Persian Gulf, or Nguyen, a common surname in Vietnam and Thailand.

I’m looking forward to bringing out Forvo this week, when my family celebrates American Thanksgiving and has our traditional debate about the pronunciation of one of our favorite pies, pecan. Even it’s not a holiday in your part of the world, I hope you find fun opportunities to explore what “unique sounds tumble forth” around you!

Kimchi at your door

Imagine you’re on the subway during morning rush hour. Now you’re off the train, streaming with the crowd toward work… simultaneously perusing and ordering groceries while barely breaking your stride. If you’re at one of South Korea’s virtual supermarkets, you can do just that.

Originated by Tesco in 2011, Homeplus markets are light-box displays of product photos, arranged as if on life-sized store shelves with QC codes that shoppers scan and then schedule for delivery.

They’re found in subway tunnels and other locations. Commuters can order while en route and have groceries delivered when they get home at night.

Embracing convenience, South Koreans are prime consumers for this type of shopping. They work very long hours, are high credit card users, and enjoy excellent Internet penetration.

In fact, South Korea has the highest percentage of online grocery shopping in the world, according to Kantar Worldpanel1. Nearly 20% of groceries are purchased online there.

Grocery e-commerce is increasing sharply elsewhere as well. The second highest e-commerce food shopping rate is in the UK and Japan, both with 7.5% of groceries purchased online. Next highest is China, with 6.2%   The rest of the top 10 for percentage of e-groceries are France, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, the U.S., and Italy.

Millennials are very comfortable with mobile commerce, and are the majority users of digital food shopping platforms. In general, certain conditions lend themselves to a favorable online grocery market. High population density helps, as does that population’s access to fast, reliable Internet. Labor costs are a consideration – for shoppers/baggers and delivery people.

Here is a selection of online grocery options in some of the top countries mentioned above:

South Korea:
FatbagEZ Shop KoreaiHerbFrance Gourmet, Homeplus

Ocado, Amazon Fresh, and grocery stores like ASDA , Sainsbury’s, Tesco , and Morrisons

Amazon Fresh
,  Honest Bee, Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper, Tokyo Central

Epermarket, Fields China, Hema (Alibaba), Yihaodian


Where’s the sun?

Here in the United States we just moved our clocks back to end Daylight Saving Time.  Did you know that a lot of people call it daylight saving(s) time?  It is correctly written without the “s.”   When DST is not observed, it is called standard time, normal time or winter time.  Approximately 70 countriesparticipate in Daylight Saving Time.

Which world capital has the shortest days or the least amount of sunlight?

  1. Oslo, Norway
  2. Stockholm, Sweden
  3. Helsinki, Finland
  4. Reykjavik, Iceland
  5. Tallinn, Estonia