Posts Tagged ‘Schwab Bank’

Interview with Expat Ambi Alexander

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I actually have never met Ambi.  The funny thing is our paths have crossed many times.  I met her husband Hugh when they first moved here.  He stayed up one night and read my entire blog and then emailed me.  He asked if we could meet for a cup of coffee.  He and his wife Ambi had just moved here from San Francisco.

Since that time we have stayed friendly.  I have been able to give him some helpful information at times.  Then it turned out one of my English students and her boyfriend were good friends with them.  She and Ambi met through their running club.  She told me how Ambi was teaching yoga and how she started a blog.  Being a fellow blogger, I would check in from time to time to read her blog.

I find Hugh and Ambi interesting as their lives are completely different from mine.  I asked Ambi if I could interview her for Affordable Calling Cards.

Deby: How long have you lived here?

Ambi: We moved to Buenos Aires 2.5 years ago.

Deby: How did you guys ever select Buenos Aires to move to?

Ambi: We came here for a 3 week vacation to celebrate Hugh’s 40th birthday (3 1/2 yrs ago).  Every time we traveled somewhere new, we’d play a game of “could we live here?”.  This time, the game got serious as we both said “yes”.  We spent the trip strolling through neighborhoods and getting to know the city – getting a haircut, going to the movies, eating out of course and talking to the locals as much as possible.

Deby: What was the influencing decision to make your move to Buenos Aires?

Ambi: Timing.  It was the right time for me to leave my corporate career behind and it was a great time to move to Buenos Aires.  The year we moved here, there was a positive energy to the city that was palpable.  Lots of new business and growth everywhere.  The expat community was growing and it was one of the world’s top destinations for travel (still is thanks to the exchange rate).

Deby:     What did you do before you moved here?

Ambi:    I was a Marketing Director for Charles Schwab (brokerage firm in San Francisco).  I managed a team of people whose job it was to convince our current clients to invest more money with the firm.  Also to educate them on how to get more our of their investments.

Deby:    What are you doing now?

Ambi:    I’m a new mom to an 11 month old baby girl named Valentina; I teach Ashtanga and Prenatal yoga; I’m studying Iyengar yoga and I write – mostly creative nonfiction.

Deby: What was the hardest thing for you to adapt to in your move to Buenos Aires?

Ambi: The language – the first 6 months were brutal and frustrating not being able to make friends with the locals but then it flowed…

Deby: What was the easiest?

Ambi: The food.  I like how Argentines use simple fresh ingredients and shop every day for their meals..

Deby: Do you have any regrets?

Ambi: Sometimes I wish we’d traveled more in Argentina when we first arrived as its more complicated with the baby but then we wouldn’t have learned the language as quickly.

Deby: What is your favorite thing about living in Buenos Aires?

Ambi: The emphasis people put on spending time with family and friends – really enjoying each others company without hurry or multi-tasking with their iphones.

You can read more about Ambi and her life in Buenos Aires in her blog Argentine Dreams

Deby Novitz moved to Buenos Aires in 2004 from California. She has a small bed and breakfast for tango dancers, she writes, does translations, teaches English, and of course dances tango. You can find more about her life in Buenos Aires on her blog  TangoSpam:La Vida Con Deby.

Travel Indispensables: The Five Things I’m Glad I Have Across the World

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Moving to a different country was not easy. We sent our pets for adoption, sold everything we had, and only took what would fit in our suitcases. We had to adapt to a different culture, different language, and different food. There are a few things, however, that made the transition much easier, from a logistic point of view. Here are the top five that I am glad I have

1. Kindle: I have to echo Sean’s raving about the Kindle- I use mine constantly. I can’t download books through the wireless network, but buying a book, downloading it to my computer and moving it onto the Kindle just takes a few minutes. I must have about fifty books on it so far, including some Spanish readers to practice my language skills.

2. Skype: I use Skype not only for phone calls, but for video calls as well. Calling others on Skype is free, but I can call regular phones and cell phones anywhere in the world for very low rates. I am limited to calling from my computer, however.

3. Paperless Mail: I use a service that gives me a P.O. Box in the United States and electronically scans my mail so that I can view it online. There are several services that do this. Some, like earthclassmail.com offer a street address where you can receive packages for an extra fee.

4. A pocket Spanish-English dictionary (paper version): Electronic dictionaries often don’t have variations between south American Spanish and Spanish in the rest of the world. I use my little pocket dictionary all the time, and it doesn’t need batteries.

5. A Schwab bank account: Schwab has the best customer service of any bank I have used so far. I need to have a U.S. address, and the checking is piggy-backed to an investment account, but they don’t charge any ATM fees or conversion fees. They also refund ATM fees charged by other banks. What’s more, I lost my ATM card and had a new one within a few days.

If you are going to travel anywhere for any period of time, I recommend checking out the above products and services. culture shock is bad enough- you don’t want logistic challenges as well.

Julia Evans wrote this article for AffordableCallingCards.net where she blogs about her life as an expat.  She also writes a personal blog Evans’ Gate about living as an American expat in Buenos Aires, where she lives with her husband.  Comments on both blogs welcome!

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