Ilene Springer

Ilene Springer

EX-EXPAT: I am an independent writer and EFL teacher who moved back to the US after living five years in Malta. Please check out my e-book The Diary of an American Expatriate, published by AUK in London, and available on over a hundred sites, including I specialize in writing about travel; health and wellness; pet health; teaching EFL; and lifestyle subjects. I ve been published in Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, AARP and other national magazines and websites.

Blogs: (Exploits of an Expat);

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BA from Binghamton Univeristy, NY; MSW from the U of Wisconsin; CMS from Harvard University


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  • Friendship American Style
    Foreigners say that Americans seem to open up right away and share events from their lives with you, but won’t really befriend you for a long time.
  • Enchanting Antique Shops in Nob Hill, Albuquerque, NM
    I used to think they called Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment because of the beautiful Sandia Mountains. But for me, it’s all the enchanting shops that sell Southwestern rustic furniture and Native American relics.
  • Spring Fashion for the Mature Woman’s Face
    There are a lot of things women age 60 and older (and I’m one of them) can do to look fresh and beautiful in the spring. And this means doing things differently than when we were younger. Remembe, a young face is not necessarily a beautiful face.
  • Refreshing Fresh-Fruit-Layered-with-Yogurt Salad
    You’re going to need a deep glass bowl for this beautiful dessert to show it off. It’s colorful, healthy and fun to make—a perfect refreshing dessert for spring and summer.
  • A Wonderful Vet in Malta
    My cat Egypt may not be crazy about him (nothing personal, of course), but I think he’s one of the best veterinarians I’ve ever had--and I’ve had many for my cats through the years.
  • What I’ll Miss About Malta
    After being an American expat in Malta for over five years, I’m going home. Naturally, there are things I’ve liked and things I’ve, well, hated. Here they are.
  • Visit a World-Class Jewelry Designer in Malta
    His shop may be small, but his talent is huge. Mark Muscat's talent and instincts for designing jewelry runs in his genes; his father owns a jewelry shop just a two-minute walk from his own called Jewelled in Sliema, Malta.
  • Expats: How to Know when It’s Time to Go
    Five years moving to Malta, I’m leaving. I came with my partner and a cat and a lot of hopes. And now I’m going back to the US with my cat but no partner. I still have hopes but also a lot of fears about repatriating back to the US.
  • What It’s Like to See a Psychiatrist in Malta
    When you’re used to discussing your problems with a professional and you move to another country, that need may not go away. In fact, it may increase if only because of everything you’re going through as an expatriate.
  • Expats: Rent Before You Buy in Your New Homeland
    Renting is the like dating your new homeland. It’s the getting-to-know-you part before making a real commitment, i.e., buying property. Here are the reasons for renting before buying:
  • How Does Obamacare Affect Americans Living Abroad?
    No one knows if the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 will be successful. But there is one question we can answer now: if you’re an American living abroad throughout 2014, you will be exempt from buying heath insurance or paying a fine if you don't.
  • Can You Drink the Tap Water in Malta?
    I’m not what you would call a risk-taker. But the other day I ran out of bottled water and was too lazy go out in the heat and lug a big bottle home from the store. So I took my chances and used water from the tap to make soup. And I was scared.
  • How to Get Around Safety in Amalfi, Italy
    It took me 90 minutes to walk at a slow, careful pace for a distance of 2.5 miles down to Amalfi from our hotel. This is one of those gorgeous places that I look at and think: I'm so glad I don't live here.
  • Wildlife in Malta--How to Help an Injured Animal
    Malta’s famous walking group called The Ramblers recently rescued a small, injured hawk from certain death. Anyone--a tourist or resident--could have come across the poor thing. Here’s what you need to know if you do find an injured animal in Malta:
  • New Outdoor Elevator Helps Tourists in Valletta, Malta
    Valletta, the capital of Malta and a World Heritage Site, is a beautiful, fortified city with gorgeous gardens, breathtaking views of the harbor and steep hilled streets. The problem for many tourists is getting there after leaving their cruise liner.
  • The Sounds of Silence in Gozo, Malta
    This morning I heard birds instead of the backfiring of busses when I woke up. And I smelled wildflowers later that day instead of car fumes. Something told me I wasn't in Malta (Malta) anymore. And I wasn’t. I was on Gozo--the sister island of Malta.
  • The Maltese Immigration Department Seemed Organized Today
    This was just another typical day for me as a Non-EU resident of Malta (south of Sicily) trying to stay in Malta where I’ve managed to live and work now for over four years. I was lucky the first time. What will happen today?
  • My 2013 Resolution as a Mother of Adult Children
    I'm the mother of two great daughters-- one is 31years old and the other is 26. Both are single, working and leading good lives (thank G-d) in Boston and San Francisco. I'll be 60 next month and I'm having a hard time facing it. Here's what I promise:
  • So I'm a Lame Duck President
    Obama should say: I don’t want my legacy only as the first black president. My legacy should be that I fixed something. I’m not going to lie to you. This country’s in trouble. And the only thing we have to fear is us ourselves.
  • See Amazing Christmas Displays in Malta
    Ordinarily, the Preluna Hotel in Sliema, Mala, is a nice three-star hotel. But during Christmas, the main thing that draws everyone’s attention in the Preluna is the huge and intricate Nativity scene on display right inside the lobby as you enter.
  • Why You Should Stop Over in Munich Airport
    I actually look forward to a layover in Munich Airport in Germany, which is good because I usually have a five-hour layover between flying from Malta to Boston. Here are several reasons, if you must have a layover somewhere, to choose Munich Airport:
  • Hanukkah on a Low Budget
    If you think cutting back on Christmas presents is hard to do during difficult times, you should experience what it's like to cut back on Hanukkah gifts; Hanukkah lasts eight days.
  • First Person: Thanksgiving After Divorce Can Be Done -- But You Have to Try
    If you had told me 31 years ago on the birth of our first daughter that her father and I would be divorced, that I would move to Malta (south of Sicily) and live with a man from Germany, I would have thought you were crazy.
  • Inglot Malta: My Favorite Cosmetics Shop
    I was an eclectic cosmetic shopper, and the thought of trying to find all my brands in a foreign country was daunting. Then, I walked by a cosmetic shop called Inglot in Malta, and my cosmetic life changed forever.
  • You Must Taste the Obama Burger in Malta
    The Obama burger is undoubtably one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. It's been a regular feature for the past four years at La Spinola Beer Garden & Restaurant , home of Badass Burgers, in St. Julian's on the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • Voters' Picks: Obama Takes the U.S. by Storm on Nov. 6
    He may have gone in like a lamb during that first debate. But he’s coming out like a lion toward the finish line. I'm voting for Obama because he’s smart. He learns fast from his mistakes.
  • Can an American Teach English in Malta?
    When the sun comes out in Malta, emails from Americans and other non-European Union members pour in, asking me if they can teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL) while spending their leisure time touring this beautiful Mediterranean island.
  • Expats: Renting in Malta? Leave Your Furniture at Home
    Unlike most countries in Europe, Malta is one of the few that come with furnished apartments -- pictures on the walls included. Convenient, yes. But if you need your vases and your own desk to feel at home, you’ll need to search for an unfurnished flat.
  • Killing Off Big Bird: The End of Romney
    I believe that Romney's announcement of wanting to cut the funding for PBS and, therefore, cut the throat of Big Bird, will be his undoing.
  • Yacht Watching From the Three Cities in Malta
    If there's any place to wait for your ship to come in, it's along the waterfronts of the Three Cities of Malta with their beautiful sea vistas and the impressive, luxurious yachts that pull in and out of their harbors.
  • How to Vote for the U.S. President From Abroad
    As an American abroad -- whether you're on business, on vacation, or living somewhere indefinitely as an expatriate -- you can still vote in the U.S. primaries, general presidential election, and perhaps in your state’s elections.
  • Mosquitoes Are Here All Year in Malta
    If you’re the type -- like me -- that mosquitoes make a beeline for no matter who else is around, then you need this advice before visiting or staying in Malta for any length of time.
  • Watch Out for Sea Anemones in Malta
    I thought I was playing it safe splashing around in the natural "baby pool" by the rocky coast of Malta. I had been told that there were jellyfish in the open sea, and I wanted to avoid them. Little did I know what danger lurked there: sea anemones.
  • First Person: Stop the Gridlock and the Rest Will Follow
    When I listened to Senator Obama at a rally in Dover, NH, in 2008, right before the first election, I thought he was the charismatic answer to all of the US’s problems. I really thought he would get the two parties to talk out the major issues.
  • Catch Your Own Octopus in Malta
    Meet Sam. He’s really good at what he does. He’s one of Malta’s best octopus catchers, and if you want to catch your own octopus, he’ll show you how.
  • First Person: It's Time to Stop Fighting National Health Care
    At 55, right before the last presidential race, I had to leave the United States and move to Malta because I could no longer afford my health insurance premiums, which had been going up by 25 percent for the past years. If I had remained in Dover, N.H., I
  • How to Stay Cool Under the Maltese Sun
    It’s the middle of August in Malta, and the temperature is a typical 95 degrees F. Go in the sun and it can easily feel up to 105 degrees F. While Malta does get humid, it's the powerful sun that will do you in.
  • Nearly 60 and Terrified About Retirement
    I'm in big trouble. I've known it for years now, but I'm hoping for a miracle. Right now, I think I'll have to work until I drop because I won't be able to live on what I'll get from social security and the little I've managed to save.
  • Rudyard Kipling’s Secret Garden in Rottingdean, England
    Get away from the prim and proper landscaping of England and visit a garden on the wild side: the secret garden of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) at his Rottingdean home near Brighton, England.
  • Rocky Beaches Are More Fun in Malta
    Relax, imagine yourself on a sandy beach in the sun, the sound of the lapping waves... Well, not for me. I'll take the rocky Mediterranean beaches of Malta anytime over the few sandy beaches.
  • Hiking in the Sussex Downs: What to Do If You Get Lost
    I took one second to stop and take a photo of a lone sheep while on a group hike through the pastures of England's Sussex Downs, and the next thing I knew, I, myself, was a lost lamb. The group had somehow turned a corner and disappeared from sight.
  • My Weekly Fitness Plan: Keeping Track of My Steps and Calories
    It's worked before and it will again-- if I do it. The key to me losing weight and staying in shape is to walk 12,000 steps a day and to count my calories, trying to eat no more than a net 1500 calories a day.
  • Why Moroccan Leather Smells Bad
    When I spotted a beautiful leather backpack in a London shop, I thought the strong smell was from all the leather products in the shop. I love the smell of leather, but this seemed extreme. But I figured the smell would go away; it didn't. It stank.
  • Visit the Msida Bastion Garden of Rest, An Unusual Mediterranean Cemetery in Malta
    If you like the history unveiled in old cemeteries, but are afraid of the ghosts that may inhabit them, fear not: you can enjoy this beautiful 19th century Protestant cemetery in peace; there are no ghosts here because the bodies were stolen long ago.
  • Seven Sisters Sheep Centre in Sussex, England: Don't Miss It
    These lambs are anything but silent. They cry for their moms, their milk bottles, and their grain. This sheep farm where you can feed and pet the animals -- and maybe even watch a lamb being born -- is one of the most fun places I've visited in England.
  • Use Barclays Cycle Hire to Get Around in London
    Get fit and get around anywhere in central London by hiring a bicycle from a docking point, riding it as much as you want in a 24-hour period anytime during the year, and then returning it to one of hundreds of docking points in the city.
  • Ride Horses Along the Cliffs of Malta
    Whether you're a novice or veteran horseback rider, with the skillful training and help of Mario Frendo, the owner of Golden Bay Horse Riding in the north of Malta, you'll feel safe, giving you the chance to both ride and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
  • Malta Marathon: Start Training Now for Next February
    It's not exactly the Boston Marathon. But the Malta Marathon, usually held on the last Sunday in February, combines the best of a big international competition and the closeness of a small island festival. Here's why you should be part of it.
  • Visit an Organic Olive Oil Retreat in Malta
    The three enemies of olive oil are light, air, and humidity. So says farmer Joe Borg of the Ta'Zeppi olive grove with its tiny processing plant - surely one of the best off-the-beaten track places to visit in Malta whether you're a tourist or a resident.
  • Gozo, Malta: Sneak a Peek at the Secret Cave of the Nuns
    I can imagine many a naughty lad sneaking down to the the tiny cave hidden among the cliffs at magnificent Xlendi Bay in Gozo, Malta, to catch a glimpse of the young novices who thought they had found a truly private place to swim. They hadn't.
  • The Best Way to Transfer USD From Abroad: Your Debit Card
    Losing money due to exchanging the weak dollar (USD) is bad enough, but adding on transfer fees makes it worse. However, I’ve discovered the cheapest way to transfer money is by using your American debit card at any ATM in Europe.
  • The Best Free Wi-Fi Spot in Malta: Cafe Juliani
    Right now, I'm writing this to you from the best free Wi-Fi place in Malta: the Cafe Juliani at the Hotel Juliani in St. Julian's, Malta. Here's why I like it so much.
  • Walk in the Steps of Elvis Presley in Bad Nauheim, Germany
    Rumors abound that Elvis is alive and well in Bad Nauheim, a 30-minute train ride from Frankfurt. This town was transformed forever by Elvis’ residency and is now known as Elvis' European home, priding itself on its famous Elvis memories and sites.
  • How to Print Out Google Calendar Better Than Ever
    The new-look version of Google Calendar is great, except for the printing function, which has not been resolved despite many complaints. But I’ve figured out another way of printing the Google Calendar using the Firefox add-on called Screengrab.
  • Freelance Writers: Why You Shouldn’t Write for Free
    Freelance writing is the only profession in which the manufacturer often creates the product for nothing in the hope of getting started or in gaining more exposure. It’s the worst thing you can do for yourself and every other freelancer writer.
  • What Shoes NOT to WEAR in Malta
    Yes, you want to look good, especially in the summer on Malta--the beautiful Mediterranean island south of Sicily. But if you wear four-inch heels like the Maltese, you won't look good with a broken ankle. Here are the shoes you should wear in Malta.
  • How to Find Out What Your English-Foreign-Language Students (EFL) Students REALLY Want to Do in Class
    Sometimes I can tell during my EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classes that when one student is yapping on about something, several other students appear bored. The problem is: how many are bored? I find out by using the "blind vote."
  • How to Help a Shy EFL Student
    There's an ancient Hebrew saying: “A shy person will not learn.” Shyness certainly has an effect on learning English. From my experience as an EFL teacher, I've found that I've often had to play the role of a language coach, not just a language teacher.
  • How to Keep Records of Your EFL Lessons and Students
    Oh, G-d, the embarrassment of being told you’ve already given that lesson. Or trying to remember if you gave a lesson to a former student. Should you teach another whole unprepared lesson because of one student?
  • EFL Teachers: Are You Overusing the Textbook
    If something happened to your EFL textbooks--a fire,a flood, they were stolen or you forgot them at home--would you be able to teach your EFL class? Or would you panic? Many EFL teachers rely only on their textbooks in teaching their students.
  • Bring the Real World into Your EFL Classroom with YouTube
    Since I've started using YouTube in my EFL classes, I've seen a dramatic increase in my students' attention spans. Listening to YouTube videos are is a lot more natural in teaching listening skills than playing the old, stilted language cassettes.
  • What Laid-Back Really Means in the Mediterranean
    The sun, the sea, chatting leisurely in cafes--ah, this is the life for an expat living in the Mediterranean, right? Well, sometimes. But the laid-back attitude of a Mediterranean culture can wreak havoc with the nerves of tourists or expats.
  • How to Eat Less Chocolate and Enjoy it More
    I’ve done some reading and experimenting and I’ve come up with some ways to eat less chocolate and actually enjoy the amount you’re eating.
  • What You Should Know About Fish Pedicures
    In Malta many tourists and locals alike have been taking a dip not only in the gorgeous Mediterranean but in tanks swarming with fish ready to nibble off the dead skin off your feet, leaving them smooth and looking good.
  • What is English for Special Purposes?
    Are you an expert cook or gardener? Maybe a musician or history buff? There's a new offshoot of teaching EFL that becoming a hot trend: teaching English for Special Purposes (ESP) and if you teach EFL, try to take advantage of this new opportunity.
  • How to Deal with Adult EFL Students Who Misbehave
    Most experienced EFL teachers cringe and swear under their breath when they're asked to teach a teen group of EFL students. They worry about the jeering, refusal to do be serious, the noise, the general misbehaving.
  • Changes in Getting a Work Permit in Malta
    Within three years of moving to Malta and getting a permit to teach EFL in Malta, things have changed drastically. It's much harder for Non-EU's to get first-time permits and even more difficult to get work permits renewed.
  • How to Get Your EFL Students to Stop Fearing Grammar
    If you dread doing grammar in your EFL class, so will your students. Here are some tips on how to overcome the fear of grammar:
  • How to Wear Earrings when You're Over 50
    Don't you hate when earrings pull your earlobes done to your shoulders? No matter how beautiful the earrings are, they will still have that ugly stretched look. It's not just age that does it, it's years and years of wearing heavy, dangling earrings.
  • How to Stop Your Kids from Destroying a Day at the Museum
    It can be the best of times. It can be the worst of times. If you bring young children with you to a museum without some planning, you can count on the worst of times. Here are some ways around it.
  • How to Get Along with American Tourists and Expats
    If you're not an American, you may "love them or hate them" when you meet one, but one thing is for sure: you won't be bored. Here are some things to keep in mind to make it an enjoyable experience.
  • Why You Should Book a Kitchenette in Your Next Hotel
    Do you often complain how badly you eat on your vacations? Eating too much at the included breakfast? Eating too many foods that you're not supposed to eat? The answer for you may be booking a kitchenette with your hotel room.
  • How to Leave Your Job at Home When You Go on Vacation
    It's not just workaholics who work on vacations. It's also average people who feel anxiety about looking like they don't work hard enough or fear what they will return to when coming back from their trip. Read on to find out how to enjoy your vacation without worrying about work.
  • How to Prevent Foot Pain During Winter Traveling
    According to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And if that step is taken with a bum foot, it's going to be a very long journey no matter how many miles it is.
  • Why You Shouldn't Get a Credit Card in Malta
    I thought it would be useful to have a local credit card in case I was temporarily short on cash when I needed something. It wasn't too long before I realized this credit card in Malta was like no other I've ever had.
  • Seven Things You Should Know Before Joining a Hike in Malta
    Now, the word ramblers - from the verb to ramble - means to walk at a leisurely pace, looking at the countryside. I knew I was in trouble five minutes after the ramble started when people in their 80s had passed me by. Read on for tips if you plan to go hiking in Malta.
  • What Not to Bring when You Travel
    We spend a lot of time worrying about what to bring when we travel. But we don't give enough thought to what we should leave at home. Here are a number of documents and personal items you should leave in your drawers at home.
  • Read Malta's Newspapers Before You Travel There
    For a small island, there are many guidebooks devoted to Malta's attractions. If you just want to see the usual tourist sites, stick to the guidebooks. But if you want an insider's view of Malta, pick up one of the island's local newspapers.
  • How to Calm Down Nervous Parents when You Travel
    Just wait until you have kids; that's what I tell my daughters when they get irritated at me for getting worried about them traveling abroad. If you have parents like me, here are some things you can do to calm them down.
  • Hotel Tip No. One: Find the Fire Exit
    How long do you spend searching for a hotel online when you travel? You probably spend a lot more time considering features that don't really make a difference in the end--and a lot less on the most crucial feature: the fire exit.
  • Why You Should Visit Malta in the Winter
    Imagine sitting at a cafe in the sun, watching the waves roll gently toward the shore. The weather is perfect--about 77 degrees F. (about 25 degrees C). Is it spring in Malta? Or a cool day in the summer? No, this is Malta on December 5th.
  • How to Travel with a Big Spender
    Taking a trip or vacation with a friend is like a brief marriage; things look great the first few days and then some surprises come along that ruin it. One big surprise is finding out your travel companion likes to spend a lot of money - his and yours.
  • How to Handle Holidays While Traveling Abroad
    Whether you're traveling abroad for business or fun--or have started life in a new country as an expat--there may come a time when you're away from your homeland during a holiday you usually spend there.
  • How to Visit a Museum Without Getting Wiped Out
    If you're like a lot of people who travel abroad for culture (meaning one museum after another), you'll try to do or see to much and end up exhausted. Read on for tips on how to visit a museum without getting burned out.
  • Studying EFL Abroad: What If You Don't like Your Teacher?
    This is the oddest complaint I heard from a friend who is studying Spanish abroad: He's not learning the language very well because the teacher is too beautiful and he's too distracted to listen to her speak.
  • Does Age Matter when You Learn a Language Abroad?
    It shouldn't be, perhaps, but age can have a lot to do with the dynamics of a language group. There are advantages to being in a class with people of your own age - and there are other advantages to being with people older and/or younger than you are.
  • Eight Things Not to Do when You Visit Iceland
    It may look beautiful and serene, but each year Iceland proves to be a death trap for many unprepared tourists. It's easy to get lost in a landscape that looks deceptively similar in Iceland's glacial wilderness.
  • How to Travel with a German Partner
    OK, this article may not suit the politically correct. But having had a German partner for 10 years, I think I'm somewhat of an expert on traveling with a German.
  • How to Avoid the Host Family from Hell
    As an EFL teacher in Malta, I hear many horror stories about students and host families. One student discovered that her room was so tiny that she had to enter the room by crawling on the bed (the bed took up the entire room).
  • Want to Teach at a Good EFL School Abroad?
    If you have your EFL qualifications, it sounds like a great and romantic adventure to teach English is another country over the summer. And it is. But every EFL teacher knows that a language school is only as good at its DOS (Director of Studies).
  • How to Really Learn a Language Abroad
    So you've signed up for 30 group lessons and five one-on-one language lessons per week. By the end of that, you should be quite good at speaking English, French, German, Spanish or whatever language you want to learn abroad. Maybe. Maybe not.
  • Is it Dangerous in Malta's Paceville?
    It's a neighborhood where you'll find the cinema and clubs, bars and bowling, lots of shopping and lots of drinking. At any given point, you'll find lots of people, many who are definitely under the drinking age.
  • Less is More in Language Schools Abroad
    It's certainly good to be an ambitious student. It's another thing when the language school comes off as being ambitious. This usually indicates that the school is motivated for one thing'"money.
  • How to Get the Most Out of Studying a Language Abroad
    If you sign up for a language school abroad and are told you must buy the textbook or you find that a certain textbook is included in your fee, try to get your money back; don't go to this school. Here's why:
  • Swimming with the Dolphins in Malta
    Taking a dip with a bottle-nose dolphin looks like a fun and easy thing to do. That is, until you research what's involved. There are lots of rules about who can--and cannot--swim with the dolphins.
  • How to Enjoy the Summer in Malta
    They say you either love Malta--or hate it. There's no in between. You can say the same about the weather in the summer--either you can tolerate the heat--or you can't.
  • Do You Need a Car in Malta?
    I know I will never drive a car in Malta. Although it's often hard, especially in the evening, to go and come from certain places on the island, I will never get behind the wheel in this country. It's too dangerous.
  • Why You Should Leave Your Guidebook at Home When You Travel
    Many tourists who go just by the book end up frustrated and exhausted. We know the reasons for taking along a guidebook on a trip. Here are some of the reasons you should consider for not bringing one along.
  • Can You Make Maltese Friends If You're an Expat?
    One of the biggest complaints of expats living in Malta is how difficult it is to make friends with the "locals." To understand why, ask yourself - if you're an expat - how many foreign friends you had when you were living in your homeland?
  • How to Renew Your American Passport in Malta
    If you live in Malta, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that you go to the American Embassy in Malta to renew your passport. The bad news: you go to the American Embassy in Malta to renew your passport.
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