With an always growing number of visitors (more than 600/day
in March 2004) and a very demanding job, I don't have time
anymore to answer each one. You will thus find here answers
to the most frequently asked questions.
The FAQ in French
is more comprehensive regarding Congo/Louisiana/Vietnam
and also covers questions related to French teaching. If
you do not find the answer to your question here, check
the forum, where
many other questions already found answers.
NB: the advice and ideas that I give here result from my
personal experiment in the countries/regions where I lived;
they are not universal !
The site, photographs...
Q : May I use the photographs / pictures of your site?
A : Yes, at the condition that you indicate the source
for each one, in this way:
(the link towards this site must work) so that your visitors/readers
can find them back in their original context. You do not
have to ask, but of course I'll be happy to know...
If you use them for a printed media (calendar, book, CD
it's the same and still free but I'll also ask you to send
me a couple of copies (I will send you my postal address
by Email) for me to enjoy ;-)
Q : Can you post an advertisment for our product / our
site on yours?
A : No. My site is "commercials-free".
Q : Can you send me bills, stamps (...) for my collection?
A : No, sorry: that would be too expensive for me to do
it for all those who ask for it... So I don't do it for
I want to go travel / live abroad...
Q : Can I send you my CV / resume?
A : It's useless, I am not an employer so it will take
dust in my mailbox...
Q : Is it easy to adapt abroad?
A : Yes and no. An open-minded European who speaks English
will adapt rather easily in Louisiana. A "closed"
one speaking only French and not intending to learn the
language will have enormous difficulties everywhere...
It depends above all on your attitude and your will to
go towards people, to meet the other culture without losing
your identity. It's much easier in Louisiana than in Vietnam,
in Switzerland that in Congo... I did not encounter great
difficulties but there's always some adaptation time, which
unfortunately corresponds most of the times with the beginning
of your job, when it is necessary to invested professionally.
The best delay I obtained before starting to work: two days
after my arrival. The worst? Five minutes... It's never
You'll also have to accept changing food, vestimentary
practices... And to adapt to the climate which can be very
hard. I had not thought, for example, to find back my asthma,
forgotten for 15 years, a few months after my arrival in
I was sometimes very surprised in both ways: someone with
X years of professional experience, a solid, sporting and
voluntary guy, resells everything and urgently buys a back
home ticket after... three days in one of the best assignments
in Louisiana. Another one, just coming out from Mom's and
from school, a fragile, romantic and sensitive young woman,
adapts in no time in one of the worst and unwelcoming places
Q : Can I hope to make a lot of money abroad?
A : To a certain extent, yes, but you will spend probably
a lot also, unless living like the local population. It
would be hypocritical to say that the average salary of
a worker abroad is bad, but it's false to say that they
are rolling in money. And that's without counting the volunteers,
who often get only 500 to 800 USD per month.
A cooperant can hope for better wages than in Europe, but
work is often more "intense" and hard, and he'll
have to face additional expenses:
- Plane ticket: often, the cooperant only gets one round-trip
ticket back home every two years and thus must pay his ticket
once on two if he wants to go back every year : a Vietnam-Belgium
plane ticket costs approximately 1200 USD (while it's half
price when originated in Europe).
- Housing: generally, it is unrealistic to buy a real estate
when one is on contract, either seen the lack of safety
of the investment or because of the duration of the professional
contract. In certain countries (including Vietnam) it is
even prohibited to the foreigners to buy a real estate.
Thus remains the rental, seldom cheaper than in Europe,
sometimes much more expensive (a good house in Hanoi is
rented between 500 and 3000 USD per month).
Don't forget that you may have to buy some or all the furniture,
which you will have to resell with loss at the time of your
departure, and the fact that you probably do not have a
housing in Europe for the holidays... In this case you'll
have to add to your budget the possible cost of a rental
or the hotel for the holidays, plus that of the furniture
depository in your country (+/- 50 USD/month in my case)...
- Utilities: electricity is seldom more expensive than
in Europe, but you will use much more of it if you live
in a country with a tough climate (air-conditioners, heating)
and sometimes the prices are adapted for the foreigners...
to the rise of course. Telephone: you wouldn't pass, from
time to time, on a phone call back home, count for example
5 USD/minute from Vietnam! Internet is not available everywhere,
and sometimes much slower... thus more expensive.
- Health: from one country to another, the situation is
very different... In the USA you will probably maintain
your current health, but you will have to pay much more
for the care and medication. In the tropical countries,
you will have to face unexpected problems which will be
very (very !) expensive. And you are likely to suffer from
and to keep some health problems all your life.
- Children: dear but expensive kids... In addition to the
healthcare which is (much!) more expensive than in Europe,
add their possible schooling in an international school:
from 5000 to 20 000 USD per year according to their age
and the level of quality.
- A little taste of the country? A Belgian chocolate bar,
a beer, a bottle of wine, cheese, pork-butchery, coffee...
These small adorable things are expensive, very expensive...
In Kivu for example, a low quality wine bottle costs 20
- Transportation: it all depends on the country but they
are often more expensive to purchase (less to maintain),
and at the time of your departure you'll have to resell
the vehicle and to buy another one where you will go then...
Without counting the rental of a vehicle, if you need one,
during your holidays in Europe...
- Various: leisures and tourism (it would be stupid not
to visit your host country), money transfer and exchange
expenses if you get your salary in your country of origin...
Conclusion? Many expatriates have better wages than in
Europe, but very little have a frankly better standard of
living. The difference is rather a question of taste for
a different work, with different objectives, and for another
way of living. This doesn't concern independant workers,
of course, having one's own business being quite different.
Let's nevertheless say that, if one is careful, one can
live well with 1000 USD per month (Louisiana, Vietnam) or
even 500 (RD Congo).
Q : Can you give me the address of your favorite hotel
A : Here is an answer nobody likes... Besides those mentioned
here and there on the site, I do not give any address. Mostly
because the quality of these places often changes and that
I cannot update all the time, but also because I do not
wish these places to become so crammed or so expensive that
I cannot go there myself anymore. It already happened...
You will find many good addresses in the well-known guides