The Expat List

One of the greatest pleasures in expat life is the announcement from friends/families/acquaintances that they will be visiting.  It’s incredibly soul warming to be in the presence of folks who have known you for more than five minutes, negating all the “getting to know you” conversations that expat life is filled with.  It’s  like slipping on your favourite pair of old slippers after stumbling around in stilettos for months.  A balm for the expat soul, if you like.

When people announce their plans to visit I am delighted.  I am even more delighted when they utter –

“Just let us know if there’s anything you want us to bring from home!”

That’s when I bring forth The Expat List. The list of things – little and big, trivial and important – of ‘stuff’ that I miss.  Stuff that’s either difficult or too expensive to get here.  Or that just doesn’t exist here.  Stuff that makes me smile and reminds me of ‘home’.

So far, we haven’t given out the full list but tailor it for the particular visitors. I can ask my mum to drop by Big W and pick up the bras that I know and love, but can’t ask our beach house neighbours do the same.

The one constant for ALL visitors is the supplements from the Melbourne weekend papers.  Laying in bed on a Sunday morning with a cuppa and the Good Weekend is a tradition I am thrilled to be able to continue here, albeit with months old Good Weekends!

Here’s my list –

  • ibuprofen (for adults and kids)
  • naprogesic
  • cheese and bacon rolls
  • Cheezels, Twisties, Cheetos (the local ones are not the same)
  • magazines from the weekend papers
  • Billy Tea tea bags
  • Colgate’s ‘My First’ kids toothpaste
  • underwear from Target or Big W
  • swimwear for the Missies
  • eucalyptus oil
  • wine from the Duty Free store

What’s on your Expat List?

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17 thoughts on “The Expat List

  1. I think the weekend mags idea is brilliant. I have made requests in the past for delivery of Saturday SMHs. A whole array of Aussie biscuits. Twisties of course. Snakes, bullets and freckles. I should stop there.
    I will also be visiting ABC shop on next visit home and stocking up on some decent kid and adult dvds.
    I loved the analogy of slipping on the slippers after getting around in stilettos. So true.
    Michelle x

    • It’s interesting how different the lists are depending on what country people are living in. We get pretty much the full Arnott’s range here, although you pay for it! We also have Twisties, but they are not the same Twisties – luminous orange and a peppery taste.

  2. We have Kids Nurofen and Panadol on our list plus Nappy Sacks and the Huggies disposable change mats for the girls.
    If someone is visiting, I get them to bring me Australian Bread, Spinach, Wine and trashy magazines.
    These things can be posted at any time! Aeroplane Jelly, Whole Egg Mayo, Keens Curry Powder, Mac’n’Cheese snack size (perfect for a quick dinner for the girls), undies that I like from Big W, Uncle Toby’s flavoured oats for the microwave, Target clothes for the girls and trashy magazines. If they can, a bottle of wine never goes astray!

    • There is Kraft Easy Mac here, although the serves might be a bit big for your babes! And the jelly – yes! I have bought Jello here, but it’s just not what I’m used to and doesn’t taste ‘right’.

  3. Definitely the underwear – it is way too depressing to try to buy it here!! One thing I miss is Extra Chewing Gum. Being a coffee drinker, this is a must have in my handbag at all times. I hate the thought of having coffee breath – yuck!! Hubby misses chicken chips. He has searched high and low for chicken flavoured potato chips and to date has found but one packet!!! That would definitely be on his list!!

  4. Ooh, a list! My mum is coming in a few months and my list is getting longer and longer. Always on it is Chickadee Chicken Salt and Pizza Shapes. But I find these days that the list is split between items from the UK and Australia (PG Tips tea bags are a MUST).

    You’ve inspired me to write my own post on lists, thanks KJ. Oh, if you want I can send you ibuprofen, we have the good stuff here in Holland – 500 mg is standard and costs almost nothing. Way better than Australia.

    • Ooooohhhh, be careful the Singapore authorities might go after you! 😉 Actually, we had houseguests here on the weekend, they were headed back to Oz and he’s a pharmacist. Let’s just say should ever come down with amoebic dyssentry or ebola I think we’ll ve good!

  5. oh yes … the undies from Target!!
    I go back to oz rarely, but when I do I stock up on bra’s from “Bras & Things” to last me at least 2 years!
    Same with swimwear.
    I can get Cottee’s Jelly here (in Mustafas) so thats fine.
    I no longer bother about the biscuits, can get Arnotts (some of them) here and if I get someone to bring more … then I eat them!
    Chicken Chips .. forgot that. Something to look forward to when I am there then.
    Bullets …. nice …. yes, save them for trips ‘home’.
    Bread … definately bring back real crusty bread from our Italian Bakery!
    Also those soft bananas from Coles … lollies. Bring them back for John, but in reality I end up eating them too. 😦
    I think after nearly 5 years here and not going back to Australia too often .. I have adapted fairly well by not missing too many things. I did at first though.
    Now I look for alternatives.
    My biggest problem when I do go to visit … I suddenly start seeing foods that I have not had for a long time and then ‘pig out’ … the weight goes on incredibly quick in that situation. 😦

    • I love the way most expats (but mainly Aussies and America) swoon whenever Target is mentioned! Somewhere to buy quality basics in Singapore would be nice. I did wonder if the longer you’re ‘away from home’ whether you stop pining for stuff from ‘home’. My kids are already talking about what they are going to eat when we visit Austalia – in June/July 2012!

  6. How funny is it that I’ve never heard of half the things on your friends lists?
    Chickadee Chicken Salt is something that sounds interesting! And what’s a Billy Bee tea bag?

    We ask for Advil, Red beans & rice, pepperoni (the real American kind for David) and hair color! When you have a light hair color, it’s hard to find the same in Asia!

    But the list I have for when we head home is getting long! My unmentionables must be bought by only me. And I am happy to say I need new pants! My old ones are too big, but I’m still too big and it’s still too $ to shop for work clothes here. I’ll be asking what you’d like from Texas over the holidays, as well!

    • Billy Tea is just my preferred brand of tea bags. Like everything else it’s not THAT different to the stuff they have here, but it;s the little things, isn’t it? 😉

  7. Great post. I can get a lot of British things in the States these days but I quite often ask for decent tea since it’s light and doesn’t add to the luggage weight.

  8. Wherever we have lived, deodorant, toothpaste, Tylenol and ibuprophen has been a constant to bring back. When we had a little one, it seems like it was mainly clothes for her and treats like PopTarts. Now that there is just my husband and I, I ask for magazines and various convenience food items like Stove Top Stuffing, cornbread mix and brownie mixes. Throw in a few Mexican food items like green chilies and I’m just fine. However, Singapore is the first place we have lived that has most everything you need….but for a price, of course!

  9. My brother has lived in the US for over 20 years. His list has changed substantially in that time. It used to include the weekend paper (I remember my mum talking about how much it cost to post!). Now he asks fo plain soap (?!) and musk flavored lifesavers.

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