Category Archives: Expat Success

OxfordYou have moved abroad to take a fantastic new job. Great achievement! Is it time to congratulate yourself and focus on work and work alone or find a new personal development opportunity through school?

People attend executive study programs for different reasons:

  • Get an elite school on the resume to improve career prospects or simply satisfy ego
  • Meet likeminded professionals to network with
  • Personal development: never stop learning
  • Learn from professors who are not only academics but also practice your trade
  • Finally complete the unfinished education gap by getting a shorter version of that MBA you never got to do
  • Intellectual challenge
  • Go through a significant career change
  • Fill in the gap year
  • Work is paying for it. Why not?
  • Party and make friends like you are back in college for the first time (usually combined with one or more of the above)

For an expat, an executive study course in the host country can also help

  • Get better adjusted in a new country
  • Consider new career options  if you are following a significant other to the expat location and do not have a work visa or a job planned yet
  • Learn about careers and international adventures of fellow students who most likely are expats, have been expats or are considering an expat opportunity

Besides the field of study, key things to consider are

  • Cost
  • Commitment

Executive education does mean what it sounds like. It is a high quality product and hence it is expensive. It requires significant investment of money and time. Like with reaching any goal, plan and take actions that can get you there:

  • Find out if your current employer will pay for it. Even if the company covers a portion of the program, it helps!
  • Research scholarships. Yes, some schools may have subsidies for executive education programs, too.
  • Be very clear on the time commitment required. Can you fit it into your travel schedule? How much reading is involved? What kind of exams and projects are you going to be faced with? What if you can’t make a session?

Once you have been accepted, fully commit to the program. If you were not the most diligent of students back in high school or university, now is the time to do it for yourself. You will get much more out of the experience if you dedicate the time required from both personal development and academic result point of view.

By Yelena Mackay

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Uhuru Point_Kilimanjaro_BlogI signed us up for climbing Kilimanjaro without much research or understanding of what the experience would actually be like. It was first a vague idea inspired by the story of a friend’s wife who did it for her 50th birthday. We joked about it: it’s ten more years to go for me, so there is enough time to prepare. Then we ran into a few more people who have done it and the idea seemed not that crazy. Plus, the famous snow is going to melt soon, so do we really want to wait ten years to run the risk of not seeing it? When I finally quit my job to finish writing Moving Without Shaking, the book about women expats and international careers, and chose Tanzania as my next stop expat destination to volunteer while doing the final edits, Kilimanjaro idea turned into a project in itself. My book went live on all of the global ebook stores sometime during our climb. Sitting on the beach in Zanzibar two weeks later, I pondered how similar these experiences were.

Here are my 6 ways of how climbing Kilimanjaro is like releasing your first book:


Walking through the tropical forest, with rays of sunshine coming through the trees, covered in the brightest green moth, discovering hidden waterfalls, monkeys, pimbi, and unknown bird species I was chatting with our guides from Shah Tours. The “adventure” path of the “Coca Cola” route looked like a fairly easy walk. Why do they tell you to go pole pole (slow slow)? With just a daypack, while the porters are carrying all the food, water and our gear, this is just a walk in the park. Ok, in the forest!

I am going to write my first book! Seriously sitting down to do it now! I will be an author! Telling everyone about it, sharing ideas, recruiting people to contribute their thoughts and opinions on the topic is so much fun! Research and debate are such bliss. No real writing has been done so far.


Reasonably early morning start. Change in landscape after first hour in the forest- more savannah, bushes, grass, some rocks, streams lower on water- still there are a lot of interesting things to see. Another sunny day! Who says it is the rain season? It’s just another day and a six-hour trekking adventure. May be they are right about pole pole after all. It’s getting steeper. The closer we are to Horombo huts, the colder it gets.

Started writing an outline and sketching ideas. Need some structure to get started. The first few chapters have come together well. I am afraid to run out of steam. Writing on the weekends or after work is feeling a bit more tiring than I imagined.


Acclimatization day! Love it! We walk up for a couple of hours, take in the new scenery. It’s mostly rocks now and very strange evergreen trees scattered throughout the alien landscape. Time to make a small tribute to the mountain gods, a monument out of a few stones, for good luck. We even ask to go a bit further than the guides originally want!

The chapters are flowing. There is enough material from interviews to fill up two books. A couple of short vacations free up enough time to spend on writing. This is really promising! I travel to meet with people who contribute to the book. Really happy to catch up. It can’t be that hard to finish and get people excited about it.


A couple of hours into the morning hike we are told that this is the LAST point where the water is collected to be carried up all the way to Kibo huts. This fairly innocent statement suddenly sounds ominous. No water! It’s getting colder. We are closer to five thousand meters. The day before we really enjoyed taking pictures with Kili’s famous Kibo peak in the background. Today, as we are approaching the base camp huts in our well-respected pole pole tempo, I suddenly realize how scary the last part looks. So where exactly is the path? Ah it’s that one, that looks completely vertical. A person is carried past us by two porters racing down. What happened? Oh, just a twisted ankle. Half an hour later, another person, incapacitated and extremely pale is carried by. We don’t ask what happened this time. Well, we can always decide not to do the last bit, right?

I will never finish this book. It’s not that I don’t have any thoughts left, it’s just there is not enough time with working 10+++ hour days in the “real” job. Is there a way out of this? If I don’t finish, I will be one of those people who always talked about writing a book but never followed through. Ugh…How much is left? More than a half! This is going to take forever. Even if I manage to finish- no one will buy it. Why have I invested so much time??? All the blogs are saying new writers like me don’t sell more than 50 copies on average. If you have a message but it reaches only 50 people, does it even count?


We wake up at MIDNIGHT. There are two schools of thought as to why the final climb happens overnight. The romantic version is so that the climbers get to see the most beautiful sunset above the clouds. I am starting to believe the second one: if you saw where you were going, none of us, urbanites, would ever make it. The climb begins at 12:30 am. The first hour is the hardest thing I have ever done. The desire to stop and catch your breath every 3 minutes is deterred only by freezing cold. If you stop, the chill sets in right away. Breathing is harder and harder. The time seems to have slowed down. This will never end. Five hours later we get to the rocks. The end is nowhere near in sight. I don’t know that we are almost there. The thought of giving up is the only persistent idea I have. The headache starts. Then nausea.

Just a few chapters in the book remain. It’s easy to say, “just a few”… I come home from work after 8:00 pm, fire up my computer and stare at a page with the cursor blinking at me. The inspiration is gone. On the weekends I rewrite bits and pieces without making any real progress. My day job frustrates me to no end. I feel permanently exhausted. Writing is no fun anymore either.


Suddenly we look up and there it is, the board sign for Gilman’s point. We step up, turn around and watch the sun rise. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Another hour and a half later we reach the most sought after Uhuru Point. This is what FREEDOM feels like.

One day I come to the office in the morning and realize it is time. I quit and start writing with passion. Inspiration comes back. I register a company, create a plan, sign up for coaching and Myers Briggs certifications to compliment my existing experience, find an online publishing company and finish the book. I have a vast amount of experience working internationally as well as coaching and mentoring people as a manager. What else can I do? I sign up to volunteer in Tanzania for four months and climb Kilimanjaro between two projects. The book goes live and some of my friends start reading it the day we summit Uhuru…

By Yelena Mackay

Serial expat

Founder of Moving Without Shaking Ltd Follow on Twitter @movingwtshaking or @yelenaparker

The Team that Got us to UhuruThank you, TEAM, for getting us there!

Our SUCCESSFUL Kilimanjaro climb was dedicated to Give a Heart to Africa, an organization that empowers Tanzanian women through offering free classes in Business, English and vocation training.



To download Moving Without Shaking, my book about how to make your expat life a success, please visit AMAZON, iTUNES,  BARNES AND NOBLE  or GOOGLE stores. For those who still love your paperback, it’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!




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Expat MovesWhat comes to mind when you hear the word expat?

A Glamorous international life style

B Amazing travel

C Being constantly on the move

D Meeting interesting people

E All of the above

I still have all these associations, now living in the UK, my country No 4. Being an expat is truly all of the above and more. That’s why so many people dream about it, work towards it, and invest into making their first move abroad. You need to have the right mindset about your transition, particularly in order to successfully reevaluate must- haves and nice- to-haves in your life.

My first flight across the pond came with a seat at the very back of the plane, right before the lavatories. It didn’t really matter. It was taking me to the US to fulfill my dreams. The ticket was a must-have. The quality of the seat was not relevant. It was equal in price to my old car, so I thought it to be a fair exchange.

Years later while planning the move to Switzerland, I was considering whether I had to have a car during my two year assignment. In California, I drove a nice little sporty convertible and believed I forever joined the car culture. I was not going to be able to use infamous public transport every day again! Well, for those who haven’t experienced Swiss transportation system yet, prepare to be amazed when you finally try it.

Swiss trains are still my favorite way to travel. They are always on time, very comfortable and extremely frequent. Added bonus: you can write your blog or read books on coaching throughout the whole journey. City transport is very reliable and can get you to the office in much shorter time than I spent every morning driving between San Jose and Mountain View on highway 101. It did take some adjustment and initial surprise at long forgotten discomfort of having to carry groceries, laptop bags and building more precise schedules of your life to fit everything in. The benefits included rapid weight loss from much more walking every day and savings to use towards that very glamorous travel around Europe.

We form new habits and adjust to new circumstances much quicker than we imagine. If you start with a mindset that you are giving something up and it’s going to be annoying, uncomfortable, or something that you will have to “deal with”, that’s precisely what you will get. Evaluate your options in the new country. Is it wise to spend money on the same things you owned or used? What does an equivalent level of a life style actually mean? No matter how great your new work contract is, understanding your budget is important. May be by giving up a little, you will gain a lot more!

By Yelena Mackay

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