on Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Expatriate - noun - A person who lives outside their native country.

Today is a sad day at Ann's School of English.  Today is one of my students' last day of English lessons before he moves to London in the beginning of October.  He's been a great student and a nice student.  I will surely miss him.  It has been a real pleasure and honor to be his English Teacher.  

He's not the first student of mine to fly the Italian nest for greener pastures abroad.  In fact he's the third, all have flown north to the United Kingdom.  One student is studying to be a chiropractor in Wales and another is living and studying graphics in London.  I occasionally hear from my ex-student living in London, she's enjoying her new life there and has no plans on returning to Italy to live.  

It takes guts to up and move to a foreign country.  Especially if it is MANY miles/kilometers away.  In my opinion, the longer a person lives in a foreign country, the more you learn, in addition to the obvious new culture and language.  You see things in a different light, you start to think also in a different way, even about your native country.  

If you are thinking of or have recently moved abroad, here are some suggestions:
- If you have visited a country and think "OH it would be SO awesome to live here", think again.  Remember that visiting and living somewhere are two totally different things.  
- Do NOT compare anything between your home country and your new country.  You'll drive yourself crazy and only leads to homesickness and the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome.  
- Be flexible.  Things in your new country are done differently in respect to your native land.  Get used to it.  In the end you'll learn how to do things in a different way.
- Learn the language, NOW.  You will become independent and also integrate.  
- Immediately meet LOCAL people, not only fellow expats.  Having locals as contacts can prove to be useful now and even down the road.  Connections are ALWAYS a good thing.
- If you're having a bad day and you're really missing things back "home", start a list of things that you like and are grateful for in your new country.  Try to do this on a daily basis.  You'll start to see that things maybe aren't so bad after all in your new country.
- Enjoy your new country.  Get out, see the sites, visit and participate in local festivals and events.  This will help you integrate, meet new people and enjoy your new chosen home.

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Dori said...

I think that you have given wise advice here. I find that tips like these have served me well as I have settled in here. Great post. :)

Anonymous said...

Very good advice, but I'm always surprised at the people who don't follow it. In particular, I've come across many who don't think learning the language is necessary.

There is a difference of course between people who have chosen to live abroad, and those who have had to move for work reasons when their hearts may not be in it. The spouse can sometimes have a hard time and would be very well advised to follow your points.

There is a large British ex-pat population in France who have moved to escape various things in the UK. They tend to go to the other extreme whereby everything in France is seen through rose-coloured spectacles (no crime!), and everything in the UK is abominable (criminal gangs rampaging the streets). I find their attitude exasperating. Balance is best in all things.

Emm said...

I really respect your decision to move to a non-English speaking country. Coming to the UK when English was my first language was hard enough! We might consider Dubai or Australia next. I wouldn't mind a bit of sunshine.

Mountain Woman said...

I found your blog card dropping and I've been enjoying it. I've often fantasized what it would be like to move abroad especially after watching Under the Tuscan Sun but perhaps it's better just imagining it than actually trying it.
It must be a very difficult adjustment in some respects.

Ann said...

I've heard about many British "fleeing" the United Kingdom for a better "quality" of life, whether due to crime, cost-of-living etc. I haven't met any American Expats in my area, but wouldn't be too surprised if there some similarities between the British and Americans.

When I first moved to Italy, to be with my husband, everyone seen Italy with the rose colored glasses. Till I told them sorry but I do NOT sit in a piazza (square) all morning sipping a cappuccino then go do various shopping in the afternoon, or spend time in the kitchen making homemade pasta.

Mountain Woman - I would say come visit Italy. The movie Under the Tuscan Sun romanticizes moving to charming Italy. The entire country is not like Tuscany. Like in the United States, each region is different, in scenery, customs, food, mentality etc.

Wally Banners said...

Hi Doll I used to read your blog in Rome and smile. your very right after 2 months I left Italy as I was really homesick. I think it helps if your in love and with somebody if you do move to a foreign country.I was lonely and out of love lol. Doll maybe you can explain to me why in Hell its so hard to get Ice for your drinks in Rome?

wblmom said...

This is some great advise. A lot of people make quick and rash decisions before actually knowing where they are moving to.

Lorenzo said...

IMHO what makes all the difference is money. If you have enough money you can overcome any difficulty, regardless the place. Because it is different to be George Clooney and live in your "villa" in Italy versus living like an average italian factory worker.

Ann said...

Lorenzo, I agree, money makes a huge difference. As we both know, not everyone here in Italy has a bank account like George Clooney.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for fixing the capcha thingy!

Anyway, I could have used your advice coming back to the states from Japan. I had the hardest time adjusting to the states again and it was THAT homesickness that was worse on me.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that they've all chosen the UK. Why not the US, Australia or New Zealand?

I can see some benefits as the UK is inside the EU, but I just wonder; why not go to the US?

Jacqueline said...

Great advice. I remember when my husband and I spent our two-week vacation in France. Upon my arrival, I wanted to pull my hair out because I couldn't understand much of anything, especially when it came to which train I needed to ride to get to my destination.

I must say, by the time we left, my high school French started coming back and I was beginning to fall in love with Nice!

I think I could adjust rather easily if I needed to live abroad. Once again, you gave some wonderful advice. Thank you. :-)

Mik said...

It does take guts to up and move to another country, luckily moving form the UK to the US I didn't have to worry about a foreign language to learn. Er, well,they do talk funny here I guess.

Here via Entrecard.

Bas - Istanbul Expat said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Loving the suggestions.

Many expats fall into the trap of only meeting and hanging out with other expats. I was in Sofia for work, but now I'm in Istanbul for studying and it's hard to not hang out too much with the international students. I'm in Bulgaria now, but when I come back to Istanbul, it's really time to start my own life, away from the international students.

Only problem is that I live with 3 other international students (one from Germany, one from Poland, and one from Italy :-)), so that makes stuff a little more complicated and means I'll have to integrate the two sides :-)

The things that are most annoying about hanging out with other international students are:
1) They (generally) have no experience in living abroad in a place where they don't speak the language at all, so;
2) They tend to walk around like a group of ducks following each other *quack* *quack* *quack* and never really have a truly Turkish experience that way;
3) They're always in huge groups, so it takes hours to move from the restaurant to a bar and then to a club or sth. Plus they tend to go to really mediocre places, or just go to the place they found in the first week throughout their whole stay.

Which leads me to another suggestion:
- Explore! If you find a nice restaurant near your house, don't fall into the trap of only going there. The known is comfortable, but gets boring. Explore the unknown! Keep exploring it, even when you have settled... because once you're settled, it's easy to get lazy.

Ann said...

Virgomonkey, no problem ma'am! Have heard reverse culture shock can be an issue. Speaking of reverse culture shock and Japan, a good friend of mine who's from Yokohama, after spending 7 years in the States when she returned to Japan had a difficult time readjusting to life in Japan. She couldn't deal with it, she had become pretty "Americanized". Now she is back in the States, found a job, eventually found a man, married and is living in the States. I honestly do not think she will return to Japan to live. To visit her family yes, but not to live.

Chris - The reason why my students have chosen the UK is because it is in the European Union so therefore no need for a visa. They can just up and move there no problems. Whereas going to say the United States, Canada, New Zealand would require getting a visa and is not so easy nowadays.

Jacqueline - Glad to hear at the end you where enjoying your time in Nice France. I have only visited southern France, along the Riviera. Thankfully my husband can speak a bit of French. About a month or so ago we went to Sion Switzerland, which is in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Went to order a beer, felt so helpless! Think I need to start studying a 3rd European language!

Great suggestion Bas!

Stan J said...

Excellent advice. I have lived in a few different countries and you have hit the nail on the head with all your tips, especially the comparing with home and not just hanging with expats.

The Fitness Diva said...

Sounds like some good tips to me. As one who dreams of living in Italy, Amsterdam, Dubai or China, I've already begun to learn the languages of those places. I know that I'm a spoiled American, but I will so be ready and willing to adjust when the time comes for me to call one of these new places my home! :)

Cindy King said...

I enjoyed your article and included it in my Blog Carnival (seen at http://cindyking.biz/international-marketer-review-blog-carnival-20/) .
Also, I stumbled this post

Cheap Keywords said...

I'm an ex-pat too. An American in France since 1990.

SHORT SHORT list of things I like here. Good medical coverage and ...

dropped an EC and stumbled. Will be back again later.

Ann said...

Fitness Diva - good for you that you're learning other languages. Knowing more than one languages opens many doors for a person. Example, if you want to have a "private" conversation with someone, is possible. Usually my husband and I will have our conversations in English at a restaurant here in Italy or if we're abroad if we want to make a comment about something/someone non-Italian, we'll say it in Italian.

Thanks Cindy!

Cheap Keywords, how is the medical system there in France? In Italy, yes everyone is covered unlike the States, quality of care I don't have that much experience with, in all honesty (knock on wood). My only complaint with the system here is the lack of organization.

KZBlog said...

Great points. Here in Kazakhstan the elite do everything they can to prepare their kids to study and then live abroad--forcing them into English classes at age 10, even buying apartments for them in London or New York so they will have somewhere to live. It's taken as an assumption that they will be more succesful in the West, but will they be happier?

research paper help said...

That's why I prefer using the metro or tram when I'm on the European side.

Dissertation writing help said...

There is a large British ex-pat population in France who have moved to escape various things in the UK. They tend to go to the other extreme whereby everything in France is seen through rose-coloured spectacles (no crime!), and everything in the UK is abominable (criminal gangs rampaging the streets).

Aniya said...

I am a British expat living just down the road from you in Monza, small world eh?! :-)