Living abroad is ... exciting - bewildering - fascinating - confusing - eye-opening - infuriating - self-confidence-building - self-confidence-destroying ...

Thanks for visiting Tales from a Small Planet,, where personal essays, Real Post Reports and Real School Reports tell you "what it's really like to live there."

We're non-profit, and our mission is to share uncensored and honest information about both the delights (new cultures, fascinating people, unique opportunities, exotic foods) and the challenges (loneliness, loss of identity, struggles to accommodate special needs) of living abroad.

Call for Essays!

How has the global pandemic affected your life abroad this year? What has gotten you through these crazy changes and times of uncertainty? Any moments of laughter or insight you'd like to share? We're always looking for personal essay submissions.

Check out our writer’s guidelines or contact us for more information!

What It’s Really Like To Live There

Tales from other countries

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The Snake and I: Close Encounter with a Spitting Cobra

I live in Singapore and a year into the pandemic, with the borders closed, the city-state was starting to close in on me. Every day, the sun rose at 7am and set at 7pm. Every day, the weather was hot, humid, and bright with occasional torrential cloud bursts. Every day, there were Bentleys and Porches, glass-and-steel high-rises, and sharp-eyed Safe Distance Ambassadors ready to enforce the rules. The pandemic locked 5.7 million of us in a high-functioning bubble, and inside the bubble we all stayed. The days blurred together, one season indistinguishable from the next.

I feel deeply grateful to...

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The French Bistro Social Experiment

I was so busy in high school with sports, drama and music that I never gave much thought to anything happening outside of my small town in Iowa. That all changed the first day of university when I met my future husband. He was a very tall, dark, and handsome 17-year old who promised to be my study buddy for our freshman religion class. He was a double Russian and IT major with a French minor. This beautiful French language would spill out of his mouth at record speed every time he encountered a French classmate on campus. As we...

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Family Standard Time

“What time is it?”

A pretty mundane question, and in the COVID-19 pandemic, often irrelevant. If you can’t go anywhere or do anything, does it really matter what time it is?

Like many others, our family was uprooted temporarily from far-flung locations and unexpectedly thrown back together. But that period eventually morphed into something else entirely, distorting our very notion of time. Just like everyone, we needed to create a new version of normal life, but for us this also required creating our own time zone.

When the pandemic took root in March 2020, it...

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Doin’ You Wash

“But—won’t you be lonely?”

Ms. Crosby gazed at me through glasses which magnified the concern in her eyes.

“No, no. I’ll be all right.”

“But you livin’ in dis big house all by youself!”

I strained to understand the Grenadian dialect and refrained from laughing at the notion that my house was “big.” The sitting room came furnished with a couch, a coffee table and two armchairs. The kitchen had a chest-high fridge, a kerosene stove with a broken-off knob, and a table with seating for two. The bedroom I slept in had space for a desk, but the guest...

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Why We Want to Return Abroad - Regardless of the Pandemic

2020 changed everything. It’s understandable that people may reconsider moving or going abroad, for a number of reasons:

Not wanting to get too far from family and friends (or wanting to come back closer)
An unstable job market
Wanting stability after a year of lots of (unexpected) changes. When we returned to the U.S. almost three years ago, we knew returning abroad was in our future. When the pandemic started, we wondered if the way things were going would make us change our minds.

It didn’t.

Living and working abroad as educators have definitely influenced our mindset and our...

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My Children And Other Animals

Here in Italy, where I live with my family, the cockroaches are small and crafty things. You almost never see them.  They stay well out of sight, and their only desire is to be left alone with those microscopic fragments of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that they might be so lucky to gather here or there.  I mean, who could blame them? They’re shy creatures, and frankly, kind of cute.  

And yet my kids are terrified of them.  Now teenagers, my children are far smarter and world-wise than I was at the same age.  Nevertheless they won’t even approach certain corners...

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Adjusting the Culture Shock Curve to a Pandemic-Era Move

It’s December, which in my world usually means I’m settled and making plans for the holidays, or I’ve recently moved to a new country and I’m worn-down and melancholic. This is the eighth international transfer my family has made, but moving in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic is a game-changer.

In a ‘normal’ move

I’m an analytical thinker, even in my personal life, so I tend to rely on the culture shock curve to make sense of my emotional state after a move. According to this model, most expats begin life in their new country climbing...

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My Scarves

The global pandemic has made me reflect on my years of adventures overseas, my entire sixteen years’ worth of journeys that I was fortunate enough to experience at such a young age. Now, due to the pandemic, adventuring is something that I can no longer do anymore. During this trying time, in attempting to stay positive, I flip through my tangible memories. In order to do this, I look at my favorite items from these journeys, my favorite trinkets that bring me joy. My most precious possessions are in a drawer, and it’s a drawer full of scarves. Yes, scarves....

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Pip, the (Pandemic) Hamster

It seemed like my kids had been asking for a pet for as long as they could talk! But, as an expat family schlepping our belongings around the world every few years, adding the logistics of a pet to the mix had not been an option I was willing to entertain. Well, yes, there is the upside of having a consistent confidante for the children as they settle into a new home and school in yet again another country. However, the nightmare stories told by expats about dealing with expensive last-minute vaccinations and vet visits before jumping on a...

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New Book Launch - Extraordinary: Experiences Tales of Special Needs Abroad

Dear Adventurers with Assorted Abilities,

The Tales from a Small Planet team is proud to announce the launch of our second book. "Extraordinary Experiences: Tales of Special Needs Abroad."

It's a collection of 20 heartfelt, inspiring and insightful personal stories from expats all over the world dealing with their own or their children's challenges, including sudden illness, depression, severe allergies, Down’s Syndrome, autism and "invisible" disabilities.

Read how our authors coped with international moves and found the support and inner strength they needed to carry on.

The book is now available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle versions...

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New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

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