(source 4wardnotback.blogspot.fr )
My nationality is a pretty defining feature of what it means to be me, as it is for most expats I should imagine.
At work I'm "l'anglaise", out with friends I'm "l'anglaise", nipping into a shop to get change for the car park it's for "the lady with the accent". You get used to it, as well as being held personally responsible for bad weather, bad food (I'm never asked to bring a dish to any event), and driving on the wrong side of the road.
It could be worse, if I was American I'd probably be blamed for global warming, the situation in the Middle East and the fact their teen wears a baseball cap and likes chips, sorry, fries.
People are amazed that I tan, as opposed to getting pinker and pinker before spontaneously exploding. Their jaws drop when they see me sing along to a French song, they become downright suspicious when I admit knowing the name of the French prime minister, and fall off their chair when I ask for my meat to be pink, not char-burnt.
I have to admit however, despite choosing Expat as my description of the day, I don't actually feel like one (I'm sure I'll be getting much more desperate further down the alphabet and choosing any old word that fits, H is for...Human? T is for... tired of playing with the thesaurus?).
I digress. Although the definition of an expatriate is anyone who lives in another country from the own in which they have citizenship, the word "expat" has taken on another sense, that of someone who works for a company of their own country, but abroad, usually for a couple of years before moving on. I realize there are as many definitions as expats so don't call me out for generalising just yet.
This is not me, I came out here as an au pair and stayed on, after falling head over heels in love, with a region and a way of life, and yes, before you asked a boy did help persuade me to stay. Well, I think he did, obviously I didn't understand half of what he was saying at the time, he was probably on his knees begging me to get back on the plane, I just got the wrong end of the stick.
Anyway, here I am in a French village inhabited by plenty of other English expats, it's nice to have Branston and HP in the local shop, and some of my very good friends are expats. It seems to some that it's a pity that some live here for years without ever learning the language, but it's not easy to pick up a language as an adult, and if you know you're moving on soon, is it worth the effort?
Some of my friends would say these expat wives make little effort to integrate into village life, but I imagine it must be tough to move your family to a place you don't speak the language, and with your husband at work all day it must be reassuring to hang out with people from your own way of life. Family being far away means these families quickly form effective networks for when they need help picking up the kids, etc. and that can only be a good thing.
My question today is this, what, if any, is the diffference between "expat" and "immigrant"? Why is one cool and the other often looked down upon?
Why can one part of society be made up of a foreign population that keeps their own holidays and traditions, as well as eating styles, education, bedtimes, etc. while simultaneously expecting others to understand their own language? Yet, if another group does this, all hell breaks loose?
I apologise in advance if this is a rant, and would love to hear your opinions.