Saturday, 2 April 2011

Expat... Born or Bred?

On one of my especially long commutes home this week (3hrs!) I stumbled across a blog, Adventures in Expat Land by 'accompanying wife' Linda from The Netherlands.  As I sat on the top deck of the number 14 bus (having been ejected from King's Cross Station after a 'reported emergency' with the rest of London's peak-hour commuters and then walking 20mins to get on said bus), her post Seven Reasons Not To Become An Expat struck a chord...

It can be fun. And exciting, educational, eye-opening, energizing, amazing.
It can also be uprooting, disruptive, alienating, challenging, lonely and just plain hard work.

It made me ponder my 7+ years here in the UK and the highs and lows of my own expat life: exhilaration laced with fear, hope combined (in a shaken not stirred kind of way) with desperation and contentment hand in hand with loneliness and as I peered down from my perch high above the crowded streets, I wondered to myself 'would I have come at all if I'd listened to the sage advice and read the sensible tips about moving overseas?'

I knew no-one here and had no job (just some leftover redundancy package money) but buoyed by fierce determination and an unrelenting belief that it was where I was meant to be, I packed up my comfortable Melbourne life and started again.  Just like I did many times over as we moved up and down the east coast of Australia and around Melbourne, changing schools, jobs, friends, creating new habits and leaving the comfortable predictability of old ones.

But then so did my sister...who stays happily ensconsed in Australia with not so much as a twinkle of expat life in her eye.

Which then leads me to wonder whether an expat is 'born' a nomad rather than being a product of their upbringing.  You know, nature vs nurture and all that.  Bit like a personality flaw trait. 

So are expats actually born or bred?  And what's the difference between those that up sticks and settle somewhere else vs the constantly relocating expatriate lifer?

Does anyone know?

ps...and if you even have a inkling that you might like to try on 'expat life', you should read Linda's post for yourself by clicking here...or not...


Linda A. said...

This post raises a great question! Are we expats born or bred? I think I was born to it while my husband was a TCK (so bred). Thank you so much for citing & linking to my post. Nice site - I've subscribed!

Kym Hamer said...

Thanks Linda and welcome! It is always a pleasure to discover another like minded soul...I've added AIEL to my blog roll too.

Linda A. said...

Your question inspired me, so wrote about you/your article here today. I'm going to be debating it in my head all day! Again, thanks (have added your blog on mine), keep up the great writing.

Anonymous said...

It a great question. I wrote about a similar subject on my blog a couple of weeks ago.
No idea where my own desire to live as an expat comes from!