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Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest (Annual)

We discontinued the contest during the global pandemic, hoping to resume it in the future.

Expatriate Writing Contest: Living in Costa Rica
Photo of an English student in Costa Rica courtesy of Constance W Foss.

Congratulations to the 2019 Expatriate and Work Abroad Travel Writing Contest Winners!
We wish to thank the talented writers for the many excellent submissions sent to the judges. The eclectic pieces followed our guidelines very closely to create practical guides for others, often with personal anecdotes about living abroad. Many countries were represented, and this year we picked Costa Rica for the first time as the subject of the winning entry. Other winning submissions, by individuals of all ages, included mini-guides on Argentina, Italy, Albania, Ireland, Germany, and Singapore. Picking the order of the winners proved difficult this year due to the many submissions. We hope you enjoy the winning entries and that they may prove to be informational and inspirational regarding any future considerations on where to move, live, and work abroad. — The Editors
1st Place
Teaching a child in Costa Rica Teaching English and Living in Costa Rica by Constance W Foss
2nd Place(Tie)
Living in Urbino, Italy Living the Beautiful Life in Italy by Cheryl Ferguson Bernini
2nd Place (Tie)
Patagonia, Argentina A Guide to Culture and Life in Argentina by Heather Markel
3rd Place
Living in Albania Living Abroad in Albania by Katie Mastin
Insider tips for Living in Tokyo Living Abroad in Ireland by Anna Benn
Moving and living in Asia Moving and Living Abroad in Asia by Kathryn Cullen
Au pair in Frankfurt, Germany Work and Play in Deutschland by Sylvia Robertson

2018 Winners!
1st Place
Living as an Expat in Paris Living in Paris: Practical Tips for Expats by Lucas Peters
2nd Place
Essentials to Living as an Expat 3 Essentials You Need to Be an Expat by Ted Campbell
3rd Place (Tie)
Teaching in Spain as an Assistant Working in Spain with the Language and Culture Assistants Program by Ashleigh Bugg
3rd Place (Tie)
Living in Grenada How Moving to Grenada Can Add Spice to Your Life by Candice Licence
Insider tips for Living in Tokyo Silence, Spontaneity and Saving Face: Insider Tips for Living in Tokyo by Carrie Hurst
Thriving in Thailand Ten Tips for Thriving in Thailand by Brittany Rohm

2017 Contest Winners
1st Place
Settling in Mexico 10 Tips for Adjusting to Life in Mexico by Ted Campbell
2nd Place
Teaching English in Morocco Teaching English in Morocco by Lucas M. Peters
3rd Place
Living abroad in South Korea How to Survive Hoesik in South Korea by Monica Williams
Living in Cairo The Magic of Living in Cairo: City of Paradoxes by Naira Bonilla

2016 Contest Winners
1st Place
Living in Mexico What You Need to Know to Live in Mexico: Insider Tips by Ted Campbell
2nd Place (tie)
Volunteer in Bolivia Language Lessons and Television Appearances in Sucre, Bolivia by Stephanie Dyson
2nd Place (tie)
Living abroad in Bali 1-Way Tickets To Bali: A Guide To Life 8° South by Julie C. Trubkin
2nd Place (tie)
Living in Cambodia Moving to Cambodia: Stepping Off the Treadmill by Gabrielle Yetter
3rd Place (tie)
Teach English in South Korea The Guide to Teaching English and Living in South Korea by Thomas Gates
3rd Place (tie)
Work as a proofreader abroad Why Work as a Proofreader Abroad? by Pearl Harris
3rd Place (tie)
Lunch in France Taking Lunch: How to Adapt to Office Life in France by Matt Scott

2015 Contest Winners
1st Place
Living in Brazil Living in Brazil, the Land of Samba: You Get What You Give by John Clites
2nd Place (tie)
Bulgaria Learning to Let Go and Dance in Bulgaria by Ariel Bloomer
2nd Place (tie)
Expatriate in Turkey From Texas to Turkey and Back Once More by Jonathon Engels
2nd Place (tie)
Living in Russia Dispelling Stereotypes about Russia by Hope Johnson
3rd Place (tie)
Expat versus Immigrant Travel for All: The Ex-pat vs. Immigrant Debate by Ashleigh Bugg
3rd Place (tie)
Living in the Czech Republic Czech Samaritans by Pearl Harris
3rd Place (tie)
Expat in Berlin Welcome to a New Life in Berlin by Genevieve Van Voorhis
3rd Place (tie)
Chile Teaching English to Teenagers and Living in Santiago, Chile by Caitlyn O'Brien
Lunch in France Taking Long Lunches in France by Kate Hunter

2014 Contest Winners
1st Place
Monks in Dharamsala, India Adapting to Life in India by David Joshua Jennings
2nd Place (tie)
Study and Living in Bhutan Study and Living as an Expat in Bhutan by Catherine Joy Perkins
2nd Place (tie)
Expat life in Mexico Survival of the Fittest for an Expat in Mexico by Ted Campbell
3rd Place
Expat Calligraphy exhibit Starting Over in Japan: A New Life as an Expat by Tzigane Ludwig

2013 Contest Winners
1st Place
Enjoying paella in Spain The Pleasures of Cultural Immersion While Living in Spain by Andrea Isiminger
2nd Place
Living as Expat Family in Bangkok Living as an Expat Family in Bangkok by Heather Van Deest
3rd Place
Ruin old town Baden, Switzerland Living Abroad in Switzerland by Gail Folkins

2012 Contest Winners
1st Place
Traditional dancing in Istanbul, Turkey Turkey and the Queen of Cities by David Joshua Jennings
2nd Place
Temple in Chiang Mai Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Happily Adding the Months by Nathan Edgerton
2nd Place
Girl in Vietnam Living as an Expat in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Whitney Cox
3rd Place
Street in Colombia Living Abroad in Colombia: The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay by Kristin Wegner
3rd Place
Senegal car rapide An American Living in Dakar, Senegal by Robert Chatfield
3rd Place
Senegal car rapide An Expat Goes East: Living Abroad in Singapore by Victoria Milner
Senegal car rapide Living Abroad in Beautiful Belfast, Ireland by Shannon Lee Donovan

2011 Contest Winners
1st Place
Boats in Thailand Jumping Off the Face of the Earth: Landing in Thailand by Paul King
2nd Place
Living in China Bike Trip Living, Communicating and Growing in a New Country and Culture by Linda Lisa McGrew
3rd Place (tie)
Living in Bavaria, Germany Returning to Germany to Teach English by Nicholas Oyler
3rd Place (tie)
Living on Mykonos, Greece island Living on the Iconic Island of Mykonos in Greece by Julia Reynolds
Temple in Bangkok At Home in Thailand: Living in Bangkok by Nancy Claxton
Kenya foster child The AmeriKenyan: Straddling Two Worlds in Nairobi by Anena Hanson
Market in South of France The Dream and the Reality of Life in the South of France by Aidan Larson

2010 Contest Winners
1st Place
Living in Bahia, Brazil Living Abroad as a Family in Bahia, Brazil by Eleanor Stanford
2nd Place (tie)
Dining in Singapore Teaching English and Living in Singapore by Nathan Edgerton
3rd Place (tie)
Tour guiding in Croatia Living Abroad and Working in Croatia as a Tour Guide by Alexandra Cram
3rd Place (tie)
Medical internship in China An Internship Studying Ancient Medicine in Modern China by Lucy Hordern
3rd Place (tie)
Living in Istanbul Living and Working in Istanbul: A Tale of Two Cities by Jo Knights
Working holiday in New Zealand A Working Holiday in New Zealand for a Slightly More Mature Gapper by Joanne Amos
Living in Hanoi Living and Teaching English in Hanoi by Joss Berret
Nagoya, Japan Broadening the Expatriate Experience: Going it Alone in Japan by Camille Bromley
Kuaala Lumpur, Malaysia Expatriate Living in Kuala Lumpur as a "Traveling Spouse" by Cindy Childress
Living in the French Alps Living in the French Alps by Wendy Hollands
Living in Prague as an Expat Living in Prague as an Expat by Sezin Koehler
Moving with Children to Cancun, Mexico Moving Abroad to Cancun, Mexico: Living a Family Adventure by Ilana Long
Living in Okinawa, Japan Living in Okinawa: Experiencing Island Fever by Mary Richardson
Intern and live in Delhi, India Living as an Intern in New Delhi by Benjamin P. Rodgers

2009 Contest Winners
1st Place Expatriate Life in Small-Town Italy by Linda Lappin
2nd Place A Different Pace: Living and Teaching in Korea by Lindsay Nash
3rd Place (tie) A Year Living and Working in New Zealand by Lydia Horrex
3rd Place (tie) Living and Working in Argentina by R. Wade Alexander
3rd Place (tie) Opening the Door of Possibility: Living in Russia by Natalie Ridler
3rd Place (tie) From Corporate Cubicle to Casual Colonial in Porto Alegre, Brazil by Jenny Miller
3rd Place (tie) Moving, Living, and Working in the Czech Republic by Pearl Harris
3rd Place (tie) Volunteering and Living in Kenya by Anena Hansen

2008 Contest Winners
1st Place An English Teacher in Vietnam: The Rooster in the Cafe, and Other Sights and Experiences by Nathan Edgerton
2nd Place Living a Day at a Time in Small-Town Vietnam by Adam Bray
3rd Place (tie) Happenings in Nagano, Japan by Chris Gladden
3rd Place (tie) A Farewell Party, Korean Style by Sonya Natalia Heaney
Finalist Awakened Dreams in Gölcük, Turkey by Karrie Hawkins Erenoğlu
Finalist Living in Beijing by Megan Rhodes
Finalist Living in Hong Kong by Micah Stover
Finalist Living in Nampula, Mozambique by Caroline Cowan
Finalist Living and Teaching in Thailand by Rachael Price
Finalist Accidentally Becoming Brazilian by Aaron Smith
Finalist How To Be an Expatriate in India by Sonya Natalia Heaney

2007 Contest Winners
1st Place Rhythms of Native Life in Fiji by Caroline Cottom, PhD
2nd Place Essence of Japan by Rebecca Combs Tilhou
3rd Place (tie) Feeling Comfortable With Strangeness by John Hillman
3rd Place (tie) Go East, Young Man by Tom Hale
Finalist The Real Kazakhstan: Eager to Attract Foreign Expertise by Paul Bartlett
Finalist French in the Fast Lane: Retire in Style on the French Riviera by Ferriel Brooks
Finalist On Being an EPIK Ex-pat: Teaching English in South Korea by Eileen Han
Finalist A Teacher's Tour of Duty in Taiwan by Brian Johnson

Guidelines for the 13th Annual Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest
Please read the following editorial guidelines carefully, as well as past contest-winning articles to see what interests and motivates our well-educated audience.

Professionals and freelancers are encouraged to write non-fiction inspirational and practical articles that describe their experience living, moving, and working abroad. Often your experience is extended and transformed by activities in the host country, so living, working, studying, and traveling abroad are often inextricable — and we are interested in exploring all such organic interconnections.

Making the move to live abroad is for many the ultimate transition — often the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, in other cases the result of chance and circumstance. For many, living abroad is decision about where you wish to enjoy a year or more in one or more locations overseas, spend the rest of your life, and even retire. We are seeking practical and inspiring mini-guides that also provide in-depth descriptions of your experience moving, living, and working abroad (including any form of work such as teaching English, internships, volunteering, short-term jobs, etc.). When applicable, please also include resources, a discussion, and revealing anecdotes about your social interactions with locals, food and markets, culture, housing, immigration and visas, personal and family life abroad, and other issues of note, etc.

Apart from practical considerations, what were the most important physical, psychological, and social adjustments necessary to integrate into the local communities? Feel free to include anecdotes about locals who may have aided in your adjustment to the physical conditions and social rituals of the host community, as well as the role of expats in providing information and support.

Given the ever-changing nature of the global economy, more people are moving abroad to find or explore various forms of work in addition to seeking spiritual fulfillment, so stories that also describe how you work to support yourself while living abroad are of great interest to our us and our audience. We start with our editorial supposition that most people "work to live" and do not "live to work" except when there is a perfect marriage, such as writers who make their living and travel as part of a lifelong dream, others who are doing exactly what they always wished to do where they wish to do it, or those who have chosen to retire to a location where they have decided they feel most at home.

We welcome a well-crafted essay or ideally a mini-guide. Boxouts with references to the most important websites, publications, and other practical resources that have aided you in the cultural adjustment process or enhanced your life abroad are strongly encouraged to help others who may find themselves in similar situations or even similar locations. High-definition photos also are very important to make your submission stand out in this visual medium and age.

We seek your perspective, in which the host country remains the primary focus, such that the color and taste of the people and land remain solidly in the foreground. Our preference is for essays or mini-guides about your adaptation to the culture and people in whose country you have chosen to make your home.Try to write with the discipline of an engaged journalist using your observations to provide an in-depth feature or mini-guide. Assume an educated and empathetic audience.

Browse the Living Abroad section of our site for some examples of the types of articles we are seeking, as well as reading past winners of the contest, check that you are not duplicating older articles unless you have another or more thorough angle, and see our writers' guidelines for a sense of our editorial preferences. will publish the winners' entries and will provide links to the authors' website or blog, and a head-shot, if so desired, as part of your bio.

Please contact expatriatewritingcontest @ should you have any questions. We except one entry per participant.

Sharing your participation or interest in the contest via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or your other preferred social networking sites would be very much appreciated.

Contest Prizes
Cash prizes are as follows:
  • $500 cash prize for the first place winner
  • $150 for the second place winner
  • $100 for the third place winner
  • $50 for all finalists
Who is Eligible
The Contest is open to professional and freelance writers from any location around the globe.
How to Enter
  • Submit an original and unpublished essay or mini-guide of between 1,200 and 5,000 words relating to your experience living, moving, or working abroad. (Quality is obviously more important than quantity when it comes to word usage, though some subjects require elaboration should you aim to create a "mini-guide.") Focus should be placed on a description of the experience abroad and not primarily on personal feelings, as the descriptions and perceptions of the author should imply the personal impact. Supporting photos as attachments, or ideally links to shared "cloud" locations, are welcome to illustrate the experience and are considered part of the essay submission. Please read the writers’ guidelines for, the entries of previous winners, as well as sample articles on this site for a sense of our editorial focus and preference.

  • To enter the 2020 Contest, attach your essay in Word format. Another option is to point to a shared "cloud" location for the document. Please include your full name and your bio (including head-shot, should you so desire) you wish to display in the body of the email and on the document. Please type "2020 Expatriate Writing Essay Entry" in the subject description of the email and send the email to

  • The 2020 Contest begins January 1, 2020, and all entries must be received by October 15, 2020 (updated due to pandemic). Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. will require first-time North American rights for all submissions which are accepted as contest winners and for publication. In addition, Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. will reserve the right to reprint the story in a future publication.

  • Editors of will judge entries based upon the following criteria:
    • Sensitive to the people and culture being described
    • Engage and inspire the reader
    • Provide practical information others can use
    • Follow the thematic guidelines
    • Enhance with rich photographic and/or video illustrations

  • Winners will be chosen and notified by email by the close of November 1, 2020 (Pacific Standard Time).
Contest Terms
  • There is no entry fee required for submissions.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. is not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, incomplete, or illegible email or for any computer-related, online, or technical malfunctions that may occur in the submission process.
  • Submissions are considered void if illegible, incomplete, damaged, irregular, altered, counterfeit, produced in error, or obtained through fraud or theft.
  • Submissions will be considered made by an authorized account holder of the email address submitted at time of entry.
  • The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners — along with any other runners-up accepted for publication — will be paid by Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc. either by Paypal (best and quickest method of payment) or by check, as preferred by the author.
  • All federal, state, and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the Contest winners.

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