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6 things not to say to an expat

As part of Internations’ Culture Shock questionnaire, people were asked to share what one thing they were tired of hearing from people, either in their old country or new one  and share they did. Here’s a list of recurring themes in words directly from the mouths of expats. If you have an expat friend or family member, you may want to refrain…

“You’re so lucky”

Yes, we understand that we’re in a sunnier country with friendlier people and better job opportunities, but reiterating how ‘lucky’ we are implies that courage, hard work and tenacity played no part. If you want to live where we live, you can but you choose not to. That’s not because you’re unlucky; it’s a choice you have made, just like my new country is a choice I’ve made.

“Are you fluent yet?”

Seriously, do you know how long it takes to master a language to fluency? So many of us spend hours every day on our new language and it’s frustrating enough when, after a year, we’re not even at Kindergarten level. Asking if we’re fluent yet makes us feel embarrassed and inferior so please don’t do it!

Please, it can’t be that bad”

If I’m complaining about how frustrating it is to open a new bank account when I don’t yet have a permanent address, please don’t say “It can’t be that bad! You live by the beach!” or “You have year-round sunshine! Try queuing up for Natwest in the pouring rain!”

Just because I’ve moved, it doesn’t mean all my problems have melted away. My new country might have better weather, but that doesn’t automatically negate all my problems.

“Not that it matters to you”

I’m in a new country which I call home, yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested or concerned about the state of affairs in my old home. In the run up to the UK General Election 2015, I’ve been told more than once that it doesn’t concern me because I’ve been in Australia for two years. I still care about the NHS, our education system and all the things that make Britain, Britain. It matters to me. Don’t tell me it doesn’t.

“You should try making friends with more locals”

Okay, I know that I have more English speaking friends than not, but they’re easier to connect with – for now. Until I learn the local language to an advanced level, there’s only so much conversation I can have with locals. English is the language I think in, cry in, get high in, and sometimes I just need people that are effortless to be with. Local friends will come with time, I promise.

“When are you moving back home?”

You think I packed up 20 tonnes of luggage and hauled it across the Atlantic for fun? No. My new country is my new home. Maybe I’ll ‘move back home’ one day but I don’t know that for sure. For now, I’m making a go of things in my new country. Please support me instead of acting like it’s a phase.

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