…the prodigal returns

Back where we came from, reluctant returnees.

Joining in

6 Comments


I’ve noticed something odd about the British – if you move to live in another country, you are referred to as an “expat”, which is short for “expatriate”, defined as

a person temporarily or permanently residing in another country and culture other than their own

However, if a non-British person immigrates to the UK, they are not expats, they are immigrants, which is Not A Good Thing To Be, in many cases – try to keep up.

I guess I’ve always been an expat, as I moved to England as a young woman, and have lived either there, or in Spain, for many years. Americans living abroad tend not to refer to themselves as such, however, or at least not in my experience.

British expats can be a very odd bunch. From what I’ve seen, they fall into two groups – those who “stick to their own”, and socialise (and often live) with other British, and those who join in. The latter group are often said to have “gone native” – for some reason, this also is Not A Good Thing.

Manuel and Kenton

“Joining in” at its best!

Now me, I could never figure out why you would want to move to a country, but not join in. How else can you learn the language, the customs and the culture? How else can you make new friends?

I’ve always considered myself an American, no matter where I live – but one lucky enough to intimately get to know cultures other than my own. I wish everyone could do this. It totally takes the fear out of life, when you see that others (whatever their politics, colour, religion and so on) are pretty much just like you. They want the same things from life – food, water, and freedom for their family, and if they are lucky enough, perhaps some control over their life, too. I find that it becomes much more difficult to be xenophobic or nationalistic – the lines blur when you experience the hospitality of other countries, and you stop seeing bad guys under the bed.

So if you can, travel. Meet people, talk to them. If more could do this, I’m sure the world would be a much safer place, and governments would have a harder time scaring us with the bogeyman.

Author: Ann Larson

One-time IT executive who lives on a 22 acre olive farm in Spain with husband Kenton and 2 boxer dogs. We make Yunquera Gold olive oil, and soap and skincare products from same. We aim to make natural, fresh, and handmade products at affordable prices!

6 thoughts on “Joining in

  1. I don’t actually think of myself as an ex-pat Ann — I’m probably a person of both worlds. When asked whether I like England or Ireland then I can’t give a definite answer. Despite the best efforts of the government, some parts of English life, and its values, are still nice, and I still miss them. However, there are some things about Ireland, too — especially the countryside — that are fabulous, and which I hope don’t get ravaged by industrial development. I’ll keep on going to-and-fro to get the best of both 🙂

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    • Hi Tony, thanks for reading and posting! I don’t (and never did) consider myself as an ex-pat, either. It’s funny though – I’ve lived in several countries in my life, and now think I belong everywhere and nowhere specific, both at the same time! Taking the best that each country has to offer is the right approach, I think.

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  2. You are right and I had not thought of it before, that non-Brits in the UK are not referred to as Expats! Very telling…

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  3. I’ve never thought of myself as an ex-pat (don’t even like the word) as I didn’t come here temporarily and there is no other place that I call home. This culture may not be the one I was born into, but it’s mine now. Not sure how much I “join in” (nothing to do with Spain, wasn’t much of a joiner in Canada either) but this is the only place I’ve ever felt like I belonged. My home.

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    • I think you very much ‘join in’ in Spain, Shawn! You have so many Spanish friends, and you do a lot to promote Sevilla in particular. I don’t think of myself as an expat, either – like I said, it’s usually just the British that categorise themselves as such!

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