Expats Inspire Locals to Adopt Their Hobbies, Lifestyle

Some hobbies start as a simple way to fill the time. Others spring up because the pioneers who start them want to enjoy the activities they are used to doing at home. Others stumble on a different way to do a traditional sport or lesson. Regardless of the reason, some expatriates know how to keep their hobbies going even if they’re far away from their country. It so happens that they get to break the mold and introduce an entirely different lifestyle and culture to the locals of their adopted communities.

Karate in NorCal

The Japanese expatriates and assignees in Northern California keep their age-old traditions in the art of fighting and self-defense alive through classes held by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center. Karate keeps them in shape mentally and physically while connecting them to their roots. The classes are open to both adults and teenagers. Complementing is a class on Kendo or Japan’s unique style of fencing.

Japanese martial arts are among the most respected in the world not just because of the accuracy in the movement, or the power unleashed during the activity — but also because of the code of honor that it embodies and teaches its practitioners to emulate.

The mental discipline and serenity in spirit that it imbibes can also help the assignees to master their responses at work and remain calm and productive while under pressure. These classes have not only been a means for Japanese assignees to socialize with kindred spirits from home, but they are also sources of energy and power to boost their physical vitality and emotional and intellectual resources during work.

Running in Dubai

The Western expatriates who started the Dubai Desert Runners in the late 1980s did not plan on launching a movement for health and fitness buffs, or for runner aficionados who just want to greet the first hours of the day with a morning sprint. According to CNN, all they wanted was to get back in shape, and running marathons was virtually unknown in the emirate back then. Running was also a way for the too few expatriates to bond and get to know each other. They swapped war stories while soaking the heat as they ran down the near empty streets of the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Over time, the streets became busier, and the runners had to take to the desert.

Soon what started as a social club for predominantly British males accelerated into an organization that tested the physical vitality, endurance, and commitment of its members — both men and women. The DRR currently has more than 200 of them who regularly join their marathons, which now include celebrated sprints and relay races from one Dubai skyscraper to another. Culminating all this is the annual Dubai marathon which awards $200,000 in prize money to its winner.

Language cafe in the Amsterdam

While learning the language of one’s country of employment is a must for expatriates or assignees, going to formal classes can still be regimented. The rigid structure and the perception that one must pass the mark can add more pressure to an already crushing workload. One group in Amsterdam, though, reinvented the wheel and made learning the Dutch language fun, effective, and more relevant. As reported by Dutch News, the taalcafe has become a hub for expatriates who learn the language by engaging in actual conversation with practiced and fluent Dutch teachers, many of whom are native language speakers, in a hip cafe.

What makes this exercise more engaging for expatriates who want to master Dutch is that they actually get to practice what they learn in a real-life setting. After going through the standard paces of grammar and spelling, for example, they spend a lot of time in conversation with fluent Dutch speakers. The topics would be something close to their interests, such as a favorite novel or a theater performance. What’s more important to assignees, though, is that the conversations can also focus on their matters related to their work, such as the latest stock market development, corporate work ethic, or economic policies that can impact their companies.