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It’s hard to believe that I’ve already crossed the eight-year mark on my third overseas work experience here in Saudi Arabia. Life as an expat offers many fantastic opportunities on various fronts, but it also comes with some challenges.

I recently spoke to a fellow Canadian expat and colleague, Michelle Ponto, for a podcast episode covering a wide range of topics from how to embark on an overseas work adventure, adjusting to life in a new country, and overcoming the stigma of travelling alone.

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Siphesihle (Siphe) November is a dance prodigy from Zolani, in South Africa's Western Cape. Siphe grew up in the small township located about two hours from Cape Town. At the age of 19, in 2017, he joined The National Ballet of Canada as a member of the Corps de Ballet, after graduating from the National Ballet School, skipping the customary apprenticeship route. Two years later, he was promoted to Second Soloist.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives — understatement of the century. Social distancing and prolonged confinement periods have affected our work lives, our relationships with our families, friends, neighbours and community members. In addition to adjusting our daily routines to accommodate working remotely and virtually connecting with coworkers, how we consume various forms of leisure, arts and entertainment — when we're not trying to get some work done — has also been transformed.

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Continuing on my tradition to seek out the bohemian and artistic neighbourhoods when I travel to a new city, my first stop the morning after I landed in São Paulo, Brazil, recently was to visit the borough of Vila Madalena — located in Pinheiros district.

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Experiencing the Rio Carnaval has been a big item on my bucket list for a long time. I had the opportunity to make this dream a reality in 2020. The world-famous extravaganza is considered the biggest carnival in the world — bringing around 2 million people per day on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Carnaval begins on the Friday preceding Lent and ends on Ash Wednesday. But the Winner's Parade takes place on the Saturday after the carnival ends.

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"You're from Canada like Bryan Adams," is what I was told more than once the first time I ventured out on an international trip on my own outside of Canada when I was still a teenager — venturing out on a student work abroad program in England, back in the early 1990s.

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"Over there is where the Paris-Dakar Rally used to end," said my guide when I travelled to Lac Retba, Senegal, a couple of years ago (also known as Lac Rose). Many of the local people I spoke to, living along the salt-producing pink lake, were nostalgic about the rally's heyday. I had heard a lot about the mythical Dakar Rally growing up in the late 1970s and '80s. Being there felt a bit surreal.

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Within the last couple of years, I discovered a new café in Jeddah, which has now become my favourite spot in town for the perfectly frothed cortado. The Caffeine Lab is serious about its mission to create the best possible coffee experience. Behind the cozy and stylish coffee shop, the founding team brings years of experience, training and skill in the coffee market.

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Cape Town, colloquially known as South Africa's Mother City, is the country's legislative capital and the main city of the Western Cape province. I first visited Cape Town in 2010, just after the FIFA World Cup. I still have the emblematic vuvuzela plastic monotone horn, which became part of the world's lexicon during the World Cup that year.

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I had planned a two-night stop-over in Johannesburg, South Africa, before Amaria and I headed on to our self-drive adventure in Namibia. It was our second time in Johannesburg. We had already experienced driving to Soweto, sampled the vibrant life there, as well as visited Pretoria the last time; so the idea this time was to explore more of Johannesburg itself.

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