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About those Expats

I stood in amazement as this white, middle class, Englishman ranted on to me, with various obscene expletives, about how stupid everyone was who came to Florence and wanted to see the David statue. Only he was correct, not anyone else, because he thought art was defined purely by himself. The locals called him, "the crazy Englishman". They couldn't stand the idiot and I totally agreed with them. He is an Expat.

So what is this Expat thing anyways?

Definitions and explanations abound in various formats all over the place. After spending many hours looking, it all seems to boil down to this:
  1. Someone who has taken up residence in a country other than their own.
  2. Or, a person who has been exiled from their nation of birth for whatever reason and ended up somewhere else.

Different languages seem to say the same thing, but then some countries split the definition into 2 groups. Those who have voluntarily moved there and all the others who are migrants (refugees included). That breaks down further into people who have a lot of money and those who don't. So Expats are well off and the rest are just: well, you know—"migrants".

Bottom Line Reality
A person has moved for whatever reason from one country to another. It doesn't matter what you do, who you are or how much money you have.

My own experience

Everyone is different, seeing things from another perspective and so I can't really speak for them. As I travel, I run across the Expats. In most cases (not all), they have one thing in common. They live in the same area, turn that region into a kind of exaggerated copy of their own country (IE, they're more German than Germany etc-etc) and don't seem to relate all that much to the locals. Why bother going there in the first place?

The flip side are those who integrate into the culture they have moved to and there's not a lot of difference between themselves and the locals (who generally like them). They bring an aspect of their home culture and it too becomes integrated into that society, without taking it over or separating the Expats.

Sure things will be different in that new country. You can't expect it to be the same and have to adapt. First of all accept the people for who they are and don't presume they or their culture to be the just like the one you came from—because that will never be the case! The native population probably don't want McDonalds, Fish and Chips or the Amber Nectar. They just want to be treated like human beings. The old adage, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", stands here. Only—you do it first!

Many years ago I landed in a French village, named Tresques. There was an old man, a Prussian, whose son had just been killed in a very nasty crash on a German Autobahn. I sat up all night with him as he grieved, there were tears in my eyes too. The next day, that village was mine. The residents actually came out of their homes and embraced me, wanting me to stay. This old man must have been their hero and kept the Nazi's at bay during WW2. He was technically German, but they loved him. To me, I expected nothing out it, he had a need and I was there—it was that simple.

Another travel blogger had a comment one day on a post, "Gawd! you are just the kind of head-up-his-ass foreigner that Thailand doesn't need any more of. Stay home and take care of your country before it is too late." This was from an American Expat. Like she expected everyone (except herself of course) to be at "home". I wonder—why she was really there in the first place? Not unlike the Englishman in Florence, both living out their own arrogant, selfish lives.

Am I being judgemental? Not really, it's just that sometimes we have to assess a situation and make a judgement, there's no other way. Nobody likes selfishness (not even the selfish ones) and no one wants arrogance.

Not all Expats suck

My friend Catalán, in Pamplona (who has now moved to north of Barcelona), came from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He integrated into the community in the Basque Country and became part of them. Technically we would call Catalán an Expat, he moved from his native land to another. Everyone I know there likes the guy.

So this can be done, it just has to be the right way....multi-culturalism sucks!

I know of someone who decided to move to Eastern Europe. He liked the place, but it all went pear-shaped as greedy locals tried to scam him and officials kept messing him around and he left. He tried to integrate, but they wouldn't really let him. So that side of things happens too.
. . . . . . . .

There's a saying here in the UK, "It's all swings and roundabouts". You just have to know when to swing and when to go around. That applies everywhere.

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