Expats: Exciting adventure or lonely isolation?

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ceci '79

Senior Member
Italian, Italy
Hi! I would like to hear your opinions and thoughts about these impressions of mine.

I have run into various so-called "expats" from many different countries both during my travels and here in Italy. Except for a few exceptions, I felt a little sorry for these people: They seemed a bit isolated, as if they had lost their identity, somehow. Also, little things seem of paramount importance to them (such as the fact that European washers are "front loaders", that Italians have small shopping carts, that German shops close on Sundays, etc.), as if these insignificant details really were life-altering.

The ones I felt most sorry for were however their wives (I didn't happen to meet any husbands of working expats). It must be very hard for them to live in such a suspended, surreal 50's world of spouses' coffees, daytime guided tours, English book clubs, discussions about where to find Cadbury's chocolate or Doritos, and international parents' meetings.

As I said, there were exceptions who seemed really at home in their new country, but many other expats and expat spouses seemed to be lonely and stuck between two worlds, hanging out mostly with other expats, often at expat Irish pubs.

Some of them opened their hearts to me and expressed how ill-at-ease they felt, so I asked them if they had ever considered the option of going back to their native countries. They replied that it wasn't an option because they received very substantial bonuses for working abroad, and their company contributed totally or partially to their rent. So abroad they had access to a lifestyle they couldn't possibly afford at home.

I wonder if a bigger house in the city centre/downtown and a couple of thousand Euros a month are really worth living such a lonely and disconnected life. Is such a discomfort a "wonderful lifestyle"? I have my doubts... Besides, at home their spouses could work, which would make up for the loss of the bonuses. Or am I missing something, here?
 
  • natasha2000

    Senior Member
    I am not sure who you are talking about. Expats? Expatriates? Who are they really? The life you described can be also the life of some immigrant, but better (paid place to live and a job)....
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    I am not sure who you are talking about. Expats? Expatriates? Who are they really? The life you described can be also the life of some immigrant, but better (paid place to live and a job)....
    My definition is the following: "Expats" are professionals or mid/high-level government officials who take a foreign assignment or a job abroad.

    Another category that could (or could not) be included in my definition are for example the various NATO military service members serving abroad with their families (not deployed to war zones, I mean).

    These people don't perceive themselves as “immigrants” because originally they left their home country on a temporary assignment (that could or could not be prolonged), and also because they did not leave their country for political or poverty-related reasons. They already had a good job there, but asked to be transferred abroad in order to improve their income or their career prospects (e.g. an American engineer in Italy, an Italian manager in India, etc.).
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    ceci '79 said:
    My definition is the following: "Expats" are professionals or mid/high-level governmental/diplomatic officials who take a foreign assignment or a job abroad.

    Another category that could (or could not) be included in my definition are for example the various NATO military service members serving abroad with their families (not deployed to war zones, I mean).

    These people don't perceive themselves as “immigrants” because originally they left their home country on a temporary assignment (that could or could not be prolonged) and also because they did not leave their country for political or economical reasons. They already had a good job there, but asked to be transferred abroad in order to improve their income or their career prospects (e.g. an American engineer in Italy, an Italian manager in India etc.).
    Ok. Thanks for explanation.... Like ambassadors or diplomats, too?

    Well... I cannot say I met anyone like this in my life. But I suppose they shoud assume their responsabilities and duties since it is their job (among other assignments) to live abroad.
    If they don't like it, they always can quit, don't they?

    I don't see why you should have pity for them. The only pity I maybe would have is for their children, since usually they are not in the same place for long time, and those children are forced to change schools and countries and languages very often during their schooling....
     

    KateNicole

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    If the people in question know the language of the country in which they are living, I don't think there is a reason for them to be isolated. It is kind of sad to me when Americans take a job in Spain and the first thing they do is look for a house in an "English-language" neighborhood and then make little attempt to the learn language. It's such a waste of an opportunity, and I have met many people (friends and business associates of my father, actually) that let it slip through their fingers. I do think it would be sad and lonely to live in a foreign country if you did not speak the language. I don't apply this to Hispanics living in the US, because even though English is obviously very important to them, they have several Spanish-language social outlets.


    Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of people that are willing to put time and energy into learning a new language and exploring a new culture are not the ones that land lucrative jobs in foreign places . . . but that's a whole other thread ;)
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    And besides, these people are usually wealhy, and they do not have to worry about existential problems some immigrant has to face on every-day basis. So even ifn they do not know the language, they can pay and attend classes, they can mingle with natives and if they feel isolated it is only and exclusively their fault.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    KateNicole said:
    Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of people that are willing to put time and energy into learning a new language and exploring a new culture are not the ones that land lucrative jobs in foreign places . . . but that's a whole other thread ;)
    I can't but agree:). Could you please give the link to this thread, btw? It sounds so interesting.
    Speaking of myself, I'd been considering the possibility of leaving my home country and go and live abroad, but I understood later that I'd never be able to leave St. Petersburg forever. Nevetheless, I'd like to go abroad for a short time - two or three years, for instance - in order to get some new knowledge and improve my skills in languages...
    I think KateNicole is right - if you know the language, why should you feel lonely and isolated?..
     

    KateNicole

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    I don't always blame the spouses though. Sometimes they just get strung along. If I were in my fifties and my husband's job moved us to Japan, I don't know how I would feel about trying to master the language. It's not because I wouldn't want to, but it could prove to be an extremely frustrating task at that age.

    I think that it is generally a bad idea for someone who is already financially stable to move to a foreign language country solely for monetary reasons, unless he/she is willing to give the new language a try.
     

    Tatzingo

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I wonder if a bigger house in the city centre/downtown and a couple of thousand Euros a month are really worth living such a lonely and disconnected life. Is such a discomfort a "wonderful lifestyle"? I have my doubts... Besides, at home their spouses could work, which would make up for the loss of the bonuses. Or am I missing something, here?
    Hi,

    This thread actually reminds me of an English teacher that i met in Itally Italy. His story was that began about 30 years ago, he went to Italy to study italian Italian and teach English as an assistant. He also met a girl there and the relationship kept him there for another 10 years or so. After that they broke up, he stayed and as far as i know has been Teaching English Lit at the university ever since. I use to see him down at the "foreigner's pub" each weekend and had many a conversation with him. From his point of view, his life was in Italy, most of his friends were now from the university, he knew the city better than any UK city that he'd lived in and most importantly, he'd spent the last 30 years of his life there when initially, the idea was to stay and teach for 9 months! I think that people choose to stay for a variety of reasons, some because they are better paid, some because they feel that they have made that transition and are better in the foreign country than back at home, for social reasons etc.

    Really makes you think about how long you can stay in a foreign country though.... (talking about willingness/reasons to stay as opposed to VISA requirements...)

    Tatz.

    Edit. Mistakes pointed out by Natasha2000 - Many thanks. :D
     

    KateNicole

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    Etcetera said:
    I can't but agree:). Could you please give the link to this thread, btw? It sounds so interesting.
    Speaking of myself, I'd been considering the possibility of leaving my home country and go and live abroad, but I understood later that I'd never be able to leave St. Petersburg forever. Nevetheless, I'd like to go abroad for a short time - two or three years, for instance - in order to get some new knowledge and improve my skills in languages...
    I think KateNicole is right - if you know the language, why should you feel lonely and isolated?..
    Hi, etcetera. That thread doesn't actually exist. When I said "that's a whole other thread," it was my way of expressing that I was beginning to comment on something that was off topic. Another way of saying that outside the context of Word Reference is ". . . but that's a whole other story." I'm sorry for the confusion, but you could always start a new thread on that! :)
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I was agreeing with Natasha, but then I went back to the original post to check exactly what it said. It sounds like there is a very strong ex-pat culture and it might be very hard to break out of it. Say, one of the wives did start language classes and tried to mix with the natives - what if she was mocked and ostracised by the others in the ex-pat community? She would have to be quite a strong and independent person to do that. I do still agree with Natasha, but I think it might be harder for some less assertive people to perhaps break out of such traditions.

    I must admit, to complain about shopping carts and other things that are not exactly the same as in one's native country sounds like the worst sort of "foreigner abroad" behaviour, so maybe I would not be so pleasant if I were confronted with such people.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    KateNicole said:
    Hi, etcetera. That thread doesn't actually exist. When I said "that's a whole other thread," it was my way of expressing that I was beginning to comment on something that was off topic. Another way of saying that outside the context of Word Reference is ". . . but that's a whole other story." I'm sorry for the confusion, but you could always start a new thread on that! :)
    Thank you for the explanation:). I knew only the expression 'that's another story', and now I'll know there's other ways to express the same idea:).
     

    KateNicole

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    emma42 said:
    I was agreeing with Natasha, but then I went back to the original post to check exactly what it said. It sounds like there is a very strong ex-pat culture and it might be very hard to break out of it. Say, one of the wives did start language classes and tried to mix with the natives - what if she was mocked and ostracised by the others in the ex-pat community? She would have to be quite a strong and independent person to do that. I do still agree with Natasha, but I think it might be harder for some less assertive people to perhaps break out of such traditions.

    I must admit, to complain about shopping carts and other things that are not exactly the same as in one's native country sounds like the worst sort of "foreigner abroad" behaviour, so maybe I would not be so pleasant if I were confronted with such people.
    Ostracizing someone who mingles with natives might very well happen, but I think it's the height of snobbery. I say, if you don't want to be bothered with "natives," stay home . . . or at least don't stay for long! At any rate though, I think that most monolingual expats would probably love to be able to speak the language fluently but perhaps just don't have the patience to achieve such a thing. I think we all know here how hard it can be to a learn a new language--it's a feet that's constantly in progress.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    emma42 said:
    I was agreeing with Natasha, but then I went back to the original post to check exactly what it said. It sounds like there is a very strong ex-pat culture and it might be very hard to break out of it. Say, one of the wives did start language classes and tried to mix with the natives - what if she was mocked and ostracised by the others in the ex-pat community? She would have to be quite a strong and independent person to do that. I do still agree with Natasha, but I think it might be harder for some less assertive people to perhaps break out of such traditions.

    I must admit, to complain about shopping carts and other things that are not exactly the same as in one's native country sounds like the worst sort of "foreigner abroad" behaviour, so maybe I would not be so pleasant if I were confronted with such people.
    you're right, Emma. I was talking in general, but then as KateNikole said, if I were 54 and had to go to Japan, I don't know how I would feel...
    It also depends a lot on type of person, and if this person is a spouse or the expat him/herself...
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    Ok. Thanks for explanation.... Like ambassadors or diplomats, too?
    I don't think high-level diplomats (such as ambassadors, consuls, etc.) could be called "expats." Their assignments are often very brief and they are somewhat "forced" to interact (or fond of interacting) with the local community and a whole lot of other people: This kind of interaction and mediation is often the very nature of a diplomatic job.

    Administrative embassy/consulate personnel (who are government employees) and their spouses, however, may very well be described as "expats", since their jobs and roles are often permanent and not strictly diplomatic in nature.

    I would say that an expat is somewhere between a diplomat and an immigrant.

    natasha2000 said:
    If they don't like it, they always can quit, ¿don't they?
    Yes, that was my original thought as well. But things don't seem to that simple, apparently. I feel sorry for those expats who seem to have become "dependent" on certain bonuses and benefits and are willing to remain abroad even at the cost of feeling lonely and depressed or causing their family (spouse and children, as you pointed out) to feel that way. It puzzles me... Is being depressed with a large house and a bonus a lifestyle worth being hooked on?

    PS: Not all these expats are depressed. I am by no means stating that. :)
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Children must also be taken into consideration.
    May I adduce an example - it can be slightly off-topic here? Some 10 years ago my Father moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow to work there - for about a year or two. He also brought his wife, who was pregnant then, and daughter - that is, me. I went to a new school, a very good one. Then, my sister was born. It was in 1996, a rather hard time for Russia - all those economical and political reforms, you know. So... we were just forced to stay in Moscow. And we still live here. It's very sad for me, and my dream's of returning to St. Petersburg when I graduate from the University.
    I mean to say, if a person has children, it's hard to go somewhere, but it's even harder to return.
    It depends, of course.
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    emma42 said:
    I was agreeing with Natasha, but then I went back to the original post to check exactly what it said. It sounds like there is a very strong ex-pat culture and it might be very hard to break out of it. Say, one of the wives did start language classes and tried to mix with the natives - what if she was mocked and ostracised by the others in the ex-pat community? She would have to be quite a strong and independent person to do that. I do still agree with Natasha, but I think it might be harder for some less assertive people to perhaps break out of such traditions.

    I must admit, to complain about shopping carts and other things that are not exactly the same as in one's native country sounds like the worst sort of "foreigner abroad" behaviour, so maybe I would not be so pleasant if I were confronted with such people.
    Yes, Emma: What you wrote is very intelligent and insightful. I think there actually is a strong expat culture. Upon meeting the new arrivals, for example, some of the more "consummated" expats start freaking them out and discouraging them from being independent and exploring on their own, while at the same time offering them the safe heaven of the "expat community" as a cosy, warm and fuzzy refuge: A "they vs. us" approach that often scares the (perhaps a bit anxious) newcomer.

    I don't think they do it on purpose, of course. It seems to be rather an example of group dynamics, since expats are a group with its own culture.

    That could indeed be extremely hard to break from even for the most curious and adaptable foreigner. This is why I feel sorry for the expats in question: They seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place.
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    emma42 said:
    Thank you Ceci! From what you say, I definitely feel sorry for those sorts of ex-pats. It sounds like an awful existence.
    In a way, the expat culture reminds me of a modern-day version of the colonial world described in A Passage to India, although less extreme, of course.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can't believe you just said that, Ceci! That was exactly what I was going to say - the friendship between Dr Aziz and the Englishwoman (can't remember her name), and the appalling reaction of many of the other English towards such fraternising.
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Etcetera said:
    Children must also be taken into consideration.
    May I adduce an example - it can be slightly off-topic here? Some 10 years ago my Father moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow to work there - for about a year or two. He also brought his wife, who was pregnant then, and daughter - that is, me. I went to a new school, a very good one. Then, my sister was born. It was in 1996, a rather hard time for Russia - all those economical and political reforms, you know. So... we were just forced to stay in Moscow. And we still live here. It's very sad for me, and my dream's of returning to St. Petersburg when I graduate from the University.
    I mean to say, if a person has children, it's hard to go somewhere, but it's even harder to return.
    It depends, of course.
    I agree with you 100% and I will reply with another anecdote.

    Once I met a U.S. Army service woman in her late 20's and I asked her "So, where are you from in the States?"

    Her (sad) answer was: "From nowhere: I'm a military brat." I really felt sorry for her.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    ceci '79 said:
    I agree with you 100% and I will reply with another anecdote.

    Once I met a U.S. Army service woman in her late 20's and I asked her "So, where are you from in the States?"

    Her (sad) answer was: "From nowhere: I'm a military brat." I really felt sorry for her.
    That's really sad. I think that's one of the worst things about army: professional military men (and women) become 'people from nowhere'...
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Etcetera said:
    That's really sad. I think that's one of the worst things about army: professional military men (and women) become 'people from nowhere'...
    And their children too... a "military brat" is the child of a military family, and apparently she had grown up in so many different places that she could call nowhere home.
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    emma42 said:
    I can't believe you just said that, Ceci! That was exactly what I was going to say - the friendship between Dr Aziz and the Englishwoman (can't remember her name), and the appalling reaction of many of the other English towards such fraternising.
    I think her name is Miss Quested (pretty emblematic, in fact)...

    A Passage to India is the quintessential book about this phenomenon, and Forster was himself an "expat" for many years, although an independent and open-minded one, probably a bit like the professor described by Tatzingo in his previous post.

    I find it interesting that he seems to conclude, quite pessimistically, that even the most "enlightened" expats will always remain outsiders. The character of the English teacher (I forget his name) is maybe an alter-ego of the author and really seems to shows us that conclusion.

    At the cruciual moment, he chooses to keep out of the turmoil and to steer clear of all controversies (he also declines Aziz' offer to sit by his side on his triumphal carriage). Then he returns home and marries an English girl (Mrs Moore's daughter).
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    To say the truth, I've never been able to understand those who claim themselves to have no home...
    It must be terrible, to be an alien to all parts of the world.
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    emma42 said:
    Having said that, my neighbour was a "military brat" and she loved it!
    Yes. That's why in the topic I included the phrase "exciting adventure." As long as being an expat is perceived as an adventure (as a positive experience) I don't think there is any problem with it.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, Ceci, Adela Quested. There is one big difference, though, because India, here, was a colony of England. BIG difference in attitudes. To fully acknowledge the equality of the Indians would be to denounce the British Empire (hurray!)
     

    ceci '79

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    emma42 said:
    Yes, Ceci, Adela Quested. There is one big difference, though, because India, here, was a colony of England. BIG difference in attitudes. To fully acknowledge the equality of the Indians would be to denounce the British Empire (hurray!)
    That is true as well....
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I reckon the legacy of Empire still has a lot to do with, certainly, English people's attitudes towards foreigners and foreign countries. My Great Aunt was a nanny for an English family in India in the 1910s and still referred to Indian people as "the natives" in the 1970s. (of course, Indian people are "natives" of India, but she was using it rather disparagingly - a product of her time and culture). I fear I am going off-topic...
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    emma42 said:
    I reckon the legacy of Empire still has a lot to do with, certainly, English people's attitudes towards foreigners and foreign countries. My Great Aunt was a nanny for an English family in India in the 1910s and still referred to Indian people as "the natives" in the 1970s. (of course, Indian people are "natives" of India, but she was using it rather disparagingly - a product of her time and culture). I fear I am going off-topic...
    When we're talking about the English in our classes, we remember an old story very often. I don't know whether this story is true or not, but here it is: An English girl and a lad from some European country (Germany, it seems) were in love with each other, but some day the boy told her that his parents didn't like the idea of their getting married, because the girl was a foreigner (for the boy's relatives, of course). The girl looked indignantly and said, "You're the foreigner! And I'm English!"
    As an Italian proverb says, se non é vero, é ben trovato:).

    But I think such an attitude is better than worshipping of everything that comes from abroad. That's what I've seen everywhere in Russia ever since I was a child. :(
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Etcetera! I have heard similar anecdotes. I am hoping that things will change in a few generations. In the school where I used to work, there were loads of different nationalities and the majority of the kids were from Pakistan (about 70%). As people become more used to living in a multicultural society, I hope that attitudes towards "foreigners", especially in the "foreigners'" OWN COUNTRY will change. No more egg and chip cafés in Spain! That will MAKE them learn to eat "foreign muck"!
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Emma, I didn't mean to offend you and I am sorry if I did.
    We're familiar with the problem of people of different nationalities living together. And I hope for positive changes, too.
    It's so sad and unpleasant to see how a person can be mistreated only because of his look or his accent!
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    emma42 said:
    Etcetera! I have heard similar anecdotes. I am hoping that things will change in a few generations. In the school where I used to work, there were loads of different nationalities and the majority of the kids were from Pakistan (about 70%). As people become more used to living in a multicultural society, I hope that attitudes towards "foreigners", especially in the "foreigners'" OWN COUNTRY will change. No more egg and chip cafés in Spain! That will MAKE them learn to eat "foreign muck"!
    After we've closed down the egg and chip cafes in Spain, can we move on to close down the curry houses in Britain, and teach those immigrants to eat "proper food"?

    Or are some ex-pats more equal than others?
     

    Papalote

    Senior Member
    Spanish, English, French
    Etcetera said:
    To say the truth, I've never been able to understand those who claim themselves to have no home...
    It must be terrible, to be an alien to all parts of the world.
    Hi,

    If I am off-topic, please let me know and I'll try to start a new thread (if I manage to reduce the wordiness in my sentences below :D ).

    I beg to differ. I have lived in 4 different countries and I wouldn't change the motherload of experiences and cultures I have been privileged to acquire. I believe I am more accepting of differences, have a first-hand experience of different world-views, ways of life, sense of humour; I have learnt to respect and like people very different from what I would have only experienced if I had stayed in one country.

    Usually, there are what I call "cultural prejudices" that are almost inborn in the people in every country, especially towards their neighbouring countries. Because I have lived in these neighbouring countries I can say I have almost managed to get rid of these ignorance-based hatreds. I think I have become a better person because of this.

    Respectfully,

    Papalote
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    Papalote said:
    Hi,

    If I am off-topic, please let me know and I'll try to start a new thread (if I manage to reduce the wordiness in my sentences below :D ).

    I beg to differ. I have lived in 4 different countries and I wouldn't change the motherload of experiences and cultures I have been privileged to acquire. I believe I am more accepting of differences, have a first-hand experience of different world-views, ways of life, sense of humour; I have learnt to respect and like people very different from what I would have only experienced if I had stayed in one country.

    Usually, there are what I call "cultural prejudices" that are almost inborn in the people in every country, especially towards their neighbouring countries. Because I have lived in these neighbouring countries I can say I have almost managed to get rid of these ignorance-based hatreds. I think I have become a better person because of this.

    Respectfully,

    Papalote
    This is exactly what I think how these people should feel... Therefore, I find it hard to understand those who feel lonely, isolated, etc...

    I wish I had the opportunity to go somewhere with a paid place to live and secure and well paid job... And to change countries every now and then...:D

    The only disadvantage of this kind of life (for me) would be constant change for your children, if yo u havew any, and until the age of let's say, 18, when usually secondary school is finished.... But after that.... I see only advantages in this kind of life.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hi Papalote,
    I didn't actually mean any 'cultural prejudices'. I think they're rather foolish, but still I'm sure that it's very good that each country has its own uniqueness, something that makes it so different to all the other countries. And it's very good, too, when a person has a country which they may call their native country. No matter where they live actually.
     

    Papalote

    Senior Member
    Spanish, English, French
    Me again,

    After rereading myself, I realize I had been verbally challenged at the time. I don´t seem to be able to explain myself.

    I have been on the move since I was born, methinks, to the point where during my history class when I was seven my teacher couldn´t understand why I had such a hard time understanding the concept of sedentary vs nomad peoples :D . To think that I´m the one who felt sorry for my fellow students who had never seen a volcano, or had walked on a sand beach, or who had never played in the Champs de Mars!

    Perhaps what I am trying to say is that my whole world-view, my whole perspective on what history, religion, art, humour, etc. "should be" changed, when at age 13 I had to study the 100-year war from the English perspective and at 14 from the French perspective, and in a nun´s school too! Somehow Joan-of-Arc´s courage became a lot more accessible than that of Jeanne d´Arc's.

    I have also worked with a lot of expats, both diplomats and businessmen/engineers, both in Mexico and Canada. I believe the diplomatic world is a world on its own and that diplomats are far likelier to enjoy the countries where they are sent because they chose this life. They are also invited more often to participate in social events of their host country and other diplomats. Also, diplomats are not resented. After all, embassies are part of their national territory. They are working "at home".

    Engineers on the other hand, started out as engineers and only became expats when the lure of money sent them to far away places. Most expats I know who did not adapt well to their new environment and did not renew their contract found it very hard to be accepted by their peers. It has been my experience that most employees resent qualified people from outside who come "to teach them how to work. Well, we know how to work and we don't need them to do it for twice my salary." And those are just a few of the comments I heard as a Human Resources Administrator (in one of my many other lives ;) :D ).

    Okay, that's all folks! See ya,

    Papalote
     

    djchak

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Papalote said:
    Engineers on the other hand, started out as engineers and only became expats when the lure of money sent them to far away places. Most expats I know who did not adapt well to their new environment and did not renew their contract found it very hard to be accepted by their peers. It has been my experience that most employees resent qualified people from outside who come "to teach them how to work. Well, we know how to work and we don't need them to do it for twice my salary." And those are just a few of the comments I heard as a Human Resources Administrator (in one of my many other lives ;) :D ).

    Okay, that's all folks! See ya,

    Papalote
    I think that post just hit the nail on the head.

    I also think that it's intresting that people feel "sorry" for other people that come "from nowhere"

    A big factor is culture. Some expats don't realize the amount of culture shock they will experience...they just think of it as a better paying job. Things can get more miserable if thier partner/spouse goes their with them and receives the same culture shock, and loss of thier "support system" of friends, and having to learn all these things at once...they just shut down.

    It's also ironic that people that are highly educated and skilled in thier jobs (engineering, IT) can sometimes find out that they are NOT so skilled in learning a new language and culture.

    Ceci, if you had a partner and put yourself in the same place...let's say you lived in Serbia , and then moved to Boulder, Colorado, don't you think it would be a huge change? What if you spoke very little English?

    Never underestimate the power of culture...and culture SHOCK.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    You must be right here, djchak. Well, it seems to me that people generally aren't aware enough of how different life is in different countries.
    And I think it may also depend on the person's interest in all that surrounds them. Some people are immensely interested in new discoveries and new emotions. The other would think only about the job they're to do.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    I agree with djchak (!) that it's interesting that you feel pity towards people who did not grow up in one particular place. Many people who have grown up in various places have the attitude "Home is where you hang your hat" and "Wherever you go, there you are". It can be a very strengthening, liberating thing to be able to experience different places to live.

    I disagree with your limiting of the use of the term "expat" to those people who are sent abroad for a temporary work assignment. It is a general term that refers to anyone who is not living in their homeland, regardless of how permanently their stay in their adoptive country.

    Additionally, I know many people who were have lived their whole lives in the country where they were born and who feel more isolated than the expatriates you're describing.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    djchak said:
    Ceci, if you had a partner and put yourself in the same place...let's say you lived in Serbia , and then moved to Boulder, Colorado, don't you think it would be a huge change? What if you spoke very little English?

    Never underestimate the power of culture...and culture SHOCK.
    The example is not quite best choice... :D
    Serbians usually adapt very well when they go abroad, and especially to the USA.... Better choose some other nation that are not so used to leave their own country....;)

    Sorry for this digression....:)
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    fenixpollo said:
    Additionally, I know many people who were have lived their whole lives in the country where they were born and who feel more isolated than the expatriates you're describing.
    This is also very true...
    I guess at the end, all depends on person in question...
     

    djchak

    Senior Member
    USA English
    natasha2000 said:
    The example is not quite best choice... :D
    Serbians usually adapt very well when they go abroad, and especially to the USA.... Better choose some other nation that are not so used to leave their own country....;)

    Sorry for this digression....:)
    It's funny you know...I worked with Serbians, Albanians, Bosnians through college.
    Basically at the time "Ex Yugos" to us simpleton Yanquis :).......

    The guy who just sold me my new sports coupe is Serbian.....great guy...anyway

    And for the most part you are right, but there was always some who were just there to get by, and would rather be back in the "Homeland" , wishing things could be the "way they were". I think this is natural in ANY population.

    But that's why "expats" are somewhat of a special exception. It's not like there is any real reason for them to be there besides:

    1: more money for the skill they have
    2: having to do it to keep their Job and provide for their family
    3: Wanting to experience the "other side"

    I think number 3 is the best reason myself....

    The problem is some expats do it for the MONEY...and the cultural change is an afterthought. :(

    And the same could be said for many immigrants, Serbian or otherwise.

    It's like this: Do you want to LEARN the culture you will be staying in? Sounds crude, but there is a truth to it....

    Hey, i'm an american who would love to be an travelling techie.....
    And ,luckily for me, english is spoken all over the world.

    Feenix: Agreed. Hell just froze over. ;)
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    Djchak, I agree on everything you said... Perhaps we should make a diffrence between expats and immigrants, since although it seems they have the same motif to "expatriate" themselves (money), I think it is not quite the same...
    And as far as the Serbs are concerned, we are (unfortunately?) more immigrants than expats....:(

    Homesick is something that nobody is immune of. Children going on summer camps get homesick too, so qhy shouldn't some immigrant Serbs?:) I was talking in general, since a lot of us feel homesick sometimes, but in general, we do not feel isolated, and we do try to merge with the "natives" and new society... Of course, there will be always exceptions, but they are not so numbered...

    I think you are very so right here:

    Do you want to LEARN the culture you will be staying in? Sounds crude, but there is a truth to it....
    So, if someone leaves his country ONLY because of money, without any interest in culture and new experiences that his new home can bring to him, he is not very wise. and if he takes his family with him, too, he should give a good thought about the whole thing, because if he takes children with him, the attitude of the children towards new home will be depending on HIS attitude, and we all know that children usually look upon (is this the rght word???) their parents, so if hias attitutude towards the new home is negative, it is likely that the children will see it with the same eyes, too... At the end, he has more election than one immigrant, because if he chooses to stay, he will stll have his job and status in the society, which cannot be said always for an immigrant.
     

    djchak

    Senior Member
    USA English
    natasha2000 said:
    Djchak, I agree on everything you said... Perhaps we should make a diffrence between expats and immigrants, since although it seems they have the same motif to "expatriate" themselves (money), I think it is not quite the same...
    And as far as the Serbs are concerned, we are (unfortunately?) more immigrants than expats....:(

    Homesick is something that nobody is immune of. Children going on summer camps get homesick too, so qhy shouldn't some immigrant Serbs?:) I was talking in general, since a lot of us feel homesick sometimes, but in general, we do not feel isolated, and we do try to merge with the "natives" and new society... Of course, there will be always exceptions, but they are not so numbered...

    I think you are very so right here:



    So, if someone leaves his country ONLY because of money, without any interest in culture and new experiences that his new home can bring to him, he is not very wise. and if he takes his family with him, too, he should give a good thought about the whole thing, because if he takes children with him, the attitude of the children towards new home will be depending on HIS attitude, and we all know that children usually look upon (is this the rght word???) their parents, so if hias attitutude towards the new home is negative, it is likely that the children will see it with the same eyes, too... At the end, he has more election than one immigrant, because if he chooses to stay, he will stll have his job and status in the society, which cannot be said always for an immigrant.
    I think I agree with you (and others) on most of these issues.

    While I see the sadness of the Serbian community having to immigrate...it's a PLUS for Americans, so we see it more as a positive thing. Perhaps it isn't obvious to most Serbs.... I don't know, only a Serbian could answer that. Ditto for all other nationalities.

    Homesickness ..... does it boil down to that? I think that is what Cece observed. It's easy for a lot of us to judge "expats"...but some of the new expats that are having trouble have often never experienced this...and it hits them like a BRICK TO THE HEAD.

    And of course, in some isolated cases, the events that are going on in the world can negatively affect the Expat and his family. Check out this intresting situation:

    " Would she like to be another nationality right now? "Yes!" she replied instantly."

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2003/05/24/rwar_ed3_.php#
     

    Auryn

    Senior Member
    France, French
    fenixpollo said:
    Many people who have grown up in various places have the attitude "Home is where you hang your hat" and "Wherever you go, there you are". It can be a very strengthening, liberating thing to be able to experience different places to live.
    As a "military brat" myself, I totally agree with this view. I can't even understand how anyone would want to spend their whole childhood, let alone life, in the same place. I'd be bored...

    There are two kinds of expats though: the ones who chose the country they live in, and the ones who didn't. The latter are more likely to feel isolated abroad if they haven't got a spirit of adventure and a genuine interest in discovering other cultures. My mother was an Army wife but hated the lifestyle as it took her out of her comfort zone :(
     
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