This one is dedicated to you and all those crazy people out there who have misconceptions about expats and living abroad. Usually these misconceptions arise from other people's lack of knowledge and/or lack of empathy - the power to put oneself into other people's shoes and understand that not everyone is the same. We all carry in ourselves greatness and infinite options. We dear to dream and some even managed to live their dreams. Don't think for a second though that it's all rainbows and unicorns - take for example being an expat mother having to rely upon your half and yourself vs. having your mother/granny/sister/aunt to give a helping hand...
- When people become expats it is a choice that they make - a choice that should be understood and accepted by their families. The world is such a beautiful big and wondrous place! Each country and each city has something magical and intriguing in itself and... you might fall in love with different cities and leave there a part of your heart. Home is where the heart it and if your heart is in a million places than the entire world is your home. People who never experienced that may think you are eccentric or that your life is a continuous holiday... nothing can be more wrong. All the holidays that you will have you will probably spend back in your homeland with family and friends; hence no actual vacation or travelling.
- Expats know loads of languages - mmm... yes, maybe... it depends from where that expat comes from. Generally people in Europe know at least 2-3 languages if not more. Usually the Latin languages group is easy to handle - for example Romanian people might not have an issue speaking fluently Romanian and English & understanding perfectly and maybe even speaking Italian, Spanish and French. Or the Polish people would understand Czech or Slavic languages. On the other side, people from across the pond, from good old USA might know only English. That is no issue as mainly expats are hired for their mother tongue and/or English. All jobs inside corporations have English... so that's one misconceptions that's total bollocks!
- Expats have LOADS of cash, they are impossibly rich! That's why they left their motherland! Partially correct - mostly expats choose a better place where they feel more secure economically, where they feel they can develop their selves, where the paycheck is larger and in more accordance with what they do but... think of the extra expenses! Home you might have stayed with your parents or you would have owned your flat/house and you might have extra help from parents and grandparents when it comes to food or helping with kids. Now you are in a new land and you need to buy/rent a house/flat, think of all expenses on your own, consider holidays that you will actually not have but spend them all back home so you can see your family, taxes, medical coverage... and so on!
- Expats MUST learn the local language or else they are doomed!!! They might as well starve to death or... God knows what! This always cracks me up :) it is partially true as well. If you live in the big cities and if you shop at the supermarket or in the big malls or online (for example Tesco, in Poland, even brings the food to your door!) there is no need for learning. It is nice to do it and the locals will be even nicer and smile more wide but it's not obligatory ;) it might be harder if you live in a village or... some remote and weird location... but if everything else fails there is always sign language ;) been living in Poland for over 5 years now and the first 3 years I was too scared to talk and I still ended up being just fine. It's important not to panic and be positive :)
Oh, but of course these are not all the misconceptions I have encountered. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just ask any given expat about expatriate life, what other people think about it and what is the cold hard truth. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but forming an opinion about expats and judging them over how they live and what they do, without having the decency to check the facts and ask some expats themselves how the world truly is... well then that's just bollocks! Ask an expat!
Yours extremely sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Is An Expat For More Than 5 Years