There is a lot of debate around the term expat. Some people feel it sets you apart from the local culture to điện thoại tư vấn yourself an expat. But I think it’s a useful term. As someone living in a foreign country, I feel that I am, by definition, an expatriate
—an expat. How much an expat immerses themself in the local culture is up khổng lồ them.
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The experience of living in Costa Rica & now Mexico has changed the lives of me & my family. We’ve had all sorts of adventures, met interesting people, seen natural wonders… all things we would have never have experienced if we had stayed in the U.S. The expat life is not for everybody, as there can be frustrations. And some people can’t make the adjustment lớn a new way of life.
But for many, becoming an expat can be the path to fulfillment.
Nancy Kiernan – IL Colombia Correspondent
I moved lớn Medellín Colombia in May 2012 looking khổng lồ make a major change in my life. The decision was partially fueled by wanting to live in a place where the cost of living was significantly lower than back trang chủ and partially by finding a climate that was so much better than the northeast U.S.
There is so much more lớn being an expat than simply living outside of your native country. I am now experiencing another culture firsthand, not just reading about it or seeing it on TV. If someone had told me that at 53 years old I was going lớn learn lớn speak Spanish, I would have told them they were crazy. Và yet, here I am speaking Spanish, not fluently, but I can carry on a conversation with anyone about practically any subject.
Becoming an expat was one of the best decisions I ever made. Living outside of the U.S. Has broadened my horizons. I no longer think about my home country and the way it functions as the center of all things. I now see the entire world, not just Colombia, through a different lens. I am more open to trying new things and having new experiences.
Also, I meet some of the most interesting people from countries all over the world. I have expat friends from the UK, Spain, France, Germany, & Australia. These people have also chosen lớn expand và enhance their lives by living in another country. It is great khổng lồ learn about not only the differences in the cultures, but also the similarities that we all have.
I traveled quite a bit before I decided lớn become an expat. But those trips were just vacations và I was just a tourist. I would spend a week or two in another country at most. While this was a fun experience, I never really got lớn know those countries in depth. After more than five years in Colombia, I have a deep appreciation & love for the people & their culture. I am totally immersed in this country.
Taking the plunge to lớn leave what you have known your whole life & live as an expat can be a little scary at first. I promise you that the benefits to your life will outweigh your concerns.
Jessica Ramesch – IL Panama Editor
On occasion you’ll hear someone take issue with the term expat, assuming that it implies a lack of patriotism. (“Expat” does, of course, come from the word “expatriate.”) These days, however, the connotations are anything but negative. It’s just a useful term to lớn describe an increasing number of people who choose—for work or for other reasons—to experience life abroad. It’s considered part of a well-rounded life experience…something many people dream of doing at least once. So what is an expat? It’s someone who’s taken the plunge…be that for a year, ten years, or more.
I consider myself a lifelong expat. I’m one of those multi-cultural Gen-Xers who had lived in several countries by the age of 15. Who felt at home nowhere and everywhere. Call me an expat or a citizen of the world…it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that I’m currently living in Panama. Life in the States was good…great, a lot of the time…but I thought maybe I could find something extraordinary if I thought outside the box (or outside U.S. Borders).
I considered other countries in Latin America. Costa Rica caught my fancy when I was younger. Và my sister immigrated to Canada, so I considered that, too. But when I made a các mục of my own personal priorities, Panama simply checked more boxes than any other place.
Tricia Pimental – IL Portugal Correspondent
I consider myself an expat because I’m someone who has made the decision lớn permanently (as much as anything can be permanent in life) live in a country not the land of my birth.
I was asked yesterday by a Portuguese couple và Iranian woman if I would ever move back to lớn the U.S. Và I said the answer was no. (I was born in thủ đô new york and lived all around the country, big cities và in the country.) The only exception lớn that would be if there were a family situation where my presence would be required, important, helpful, whatever.
Barring that, Portugal is the most affordable, prettiest, laidback country with first-world infrastructure and great architecture, historic sites, wine, cheese, beaches, & people. Nothing better for an overall place to lớn live.
Wendy Justice – IL Southeast Asia Correspondent
An expat is someone who has chosen to lớn live abroad for an extended length of time. A tourist might rush through a country & see all the highlights on their list và get a tantalizing taste of a new place, but with the intention of returning back khổng lồ the “real world.” An expat may go to lớn that same country and savor the region for as long as they choose, immersing themselves in the culture và lifestyle without any intention of returning to their trang chủ country in the near future. Being an expat is a lifestyle choice & goes way beyond what a tourist would experience. It’s a huge difference, which is why tourists và expats often have totally different mindsets.
I feel as if I’ve been on a vacation for the past 14 years, but I’m definitely not a tourist. I sold my house and my car & most of my possessions in my trang chủ country và have no intention of ever returning there lớn live. I’ve lingered for weeks in areas that I’ve enjoyed & I’ve stayed for months & even years in a few places that I especially liked. I’m constantly having new and intriguing experiences và my friends these days come from all corners of the globe. My life as an expat is exciting, stimulating, unpredictable và fun—and it’s been a true opportunity for personal growth, too. I’ve obtained a unique of life as an expat that I find immensely rewarding & I just couldn’t imagine living in the country of my birth again.
Steve Lepoidevin – IL Peru Correspondent
From the moment I first moved abroad to lớn teach in China, I considered myself an expat. A decade and three countries later, the label continues lớn define my wife & me. At this point, we have no intention of ever returning lớn our trang chủ countries of Canada or the U.S.. But never say never.
Here in Peru, we are living a laid-back existence in the small coastal surfing/fishing town of Huanchaco. The food is great, the people are friendly, and the cost of living is very low. The big đô thị of Trujillo with all its modern amenities is only twenty minutes away. It’s the best of both worlds.
If we decide khổng lồ stay here forever, I would say we had become immigrants. But the more we travel & the more countries we live in, the more I feel like a “citizen of the world”. Và I think that is a good thing.
Don Murray – IL Riviera Maya Correspondent
What is an expat (expatriate)? Easy enough khổng lồ find the technical definition which states it’s someone who lives outside their country, but that really doesn’t state the meat of the meaning.
An expat is an explorer, an adventurer at heart. They are not fearless but have learned lớn move through their fears to achieve their dreams.
They are braver than they thought they would be and freer than they imagined possible. Many see their wealth as the accumulation of experiences rather than money and they have learned to lớn forgive their own stumbles as they integrate into new cultures.
Expats attend the birthday parties of a neighbor’s child, even when they aren’t fluent in the language và eagerly taste new foods. They embrace a new normal every day and struggle lớn explain their lives to those back home, who may be constrained by fear.
We are a tribe whose members can be found on every continent, & yet, we speak the same language.
An expat understands that rich lives are found beyond the boundaries where many fear khổng lồ live.
Nanette Witmer – IL Chiriqui Correspondent
The term being an expat is not one that most of my friends in the states know the meaning of. When I use the term & explain that it means I have chosen to lớn live in another country other than the country I was born in, they immediately all think I have given up my citizenship in the U.S. Again I have to lớn explain that, no I am just choosing to lớn reside outside of the country. The word is as foreign to them as the lifestyle.
Becoming an expat for me has been a great experience. It has given me the opportunity to lớn become immersed in all areas of living in another country that just visiting on vacation will not give you. It means that I have planted roots somewhere else other than where I was born. I love the fact that I have chosen khổng lồ be engaged in another culture. Living outside of my home country has enabled me to mở cửa my mind to new experiences và different ways of thinking.
I love the fact that everyday I learn something new và take nothing for granted. Being an expat has made me appreciate things more, know myself better, find different ways of looking at something and carve out my own trail going forward.
Tuula Rampont – IL France Correspondent
But as the years passed và it started khổng lồ become clear that France, in fact, might become my permanent home, I started khổng lồ really identify with the term expat, or expatriate. I’d learned French, made a life for myself, picked up many French habits & traditions, but still felt immeasurably tied to the U.S. Although a lot of my attitudes about the world had changed, my pride in being an American only increased and become stronger.
Now, after having spent nearly 13 years outside of the U.S., the term expat has come to lớn signify having a foot in two cultures, two different viewpoints & ways of living. You may be far away from your home country, but it remains fundamentally rooted in who you are và how you make your way in the world.
Kathleen Evans – IL Costa Rica Correspondent
I understand that the term “expat” has traditionally been used for financially thiết bị di động people who choose to live in a country (or multiple countries) either for work assignments or simply by choice for a short or extended time. However, the term “immigrant” is used more often khổng lồ define someone of lesser means who might be forced to lớn leave their trang chủ country due to lớn persecution or lack of employment, or ultimately seeking a better life.
Since I have been granted my permanent residency status in Costa Rica, in reality, one could điện thoại tư vấn me an immigrant rather than an expat. I use the terms interchangeably for myself and other non-natives I meet here. Usually I use the term expat, regardless of social status or màu sắc or country of origin. In its simplest form, we are all living outside our native country. & seeking a better life.
David Hammond – IL Uruguay Correspondent
Common examples of expats include professionals, technicians, researchers, aid workers, & correspondents living abroad khổng lồ serve the objectives of a government body, company, university, religious organization, or NGO that employs them.
You also find expats that mix out on their own. These include English teachers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, investors, and retirees out for adventure and a lower cost of living.
When I was young, I read about the American expatriates living in Paris in the 1920s, which included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, & John Dos Pasos. It was a time when Paris was inexpensive, imposed few rules, và included a buzzing cafe culture.
It was a romantic idea of expat life that stuck in a corner my mind for decades. Now, as a second act, I’m living as an expat in South America. And it’s even better than I imagined. I get to see new places. I experience different cultures. & best of all, I meet the most interesting people.
In recent years, I’ve lunched with a retired model from thành phố new york who now promotes local artists in Uruguay. I’ve spent an afternoon chatting with a retired financial planner from Illinois who now teaches scuba diving in the Dominican Republic. Và I interviewed a retired commercial office cleaner from Kentucky who now teaches local children the art of origami in Bolivia. Và the danh mục goes on and on.
For me, adding an expat chapter to lớn my life is proving to lớn be a rich experience.
Laura Diffendal – IL Belize Correspondent
There are plenty of individuals who come lớn Belize khổng lồ try it out—and that is absolutely fine, healthy, or even preferred. The difference is, they leave their life in their homeland as one that would be easy khổng lồ step back into. If you commit and become an expat—that indicates that you took the plunge of making new ties and commitments to lớn the new country.
Marsha Scarbrough – IL Spain Correspondent
My life centers around a cozy nest of my own making, but each day when I go out in the world, I discover fascinating new customs, foreign culture & the possibility of making new friends. Buying groceries, getting my hair cut or going to the thể hình can be an exciting journey involving language và cultural differences. Literal travel lớn other European countries is easy and inexpensive.
As an American living in Madrid, I’m exotic. In my own country, I’m just another senior citizen, but in Spain, I’m an intriguing character with stories khổng lồ tell about my former life in a country that looms large in Spanish imagination. Young Spaniards see me as an embodiment of music, movies, and lifestyle that they love. Their interest has given me new appreciation for my own personal history.
Sometimes the learning curve is steep. After nearly three years, I still haven’t mastered the Spanish language. Luckily, I can easily get by in English, but I’m taking Spanish classes. Not only is my aging brain getting a challenging workout, I’m also meeting friendly, interesting people from all over the world.
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Although I’m proud to lớn be an American & will always be one, the expat experience has made me more xuất hiện and alive in the world. I was seeking a late-life adventure, and I found it. Honestly, I’ve never been happier.