Sunday, April 6, 2014

Are Military Families Considered Expats? I think so.

Yesterday a blogger I know and like, Deanna over at From Casinos to Castles, posted that military families couldn't really call themselves true expats since they have access to benefits that keep them closely connected with their previous American life. I read it, I commented, but I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I read the post at breakfast, and by lunchtime I was saying bye to my brother (whose birthday I was in town celebrating) and hitting the road for a 4 hour solo road trip back to Fionn across miles of rural Georgia farmland. It's a boring drive, and my mind kept wandering back to this topic, thus inspiring its own blog post.

That is the question!

Did that mean I was a fake expat? Did my experiences mean less because of my SOFA status? Should there be a distinction between civilian expats and military expats?

Here's the thing-I wasn't offended by the original post because she has a point...sorta. I agree that living in Germany with the military is very different than living here as a civilian expat or an immigrant. In some ways it is easier, that is true. But I disagree that the word "expat" can't be used to describe us.

Some background on me: From 2009-2011 I lived in France and Germany, first as a student and then later when I got a job working in Berlin. I set up bank accounts, waded through visa and registration headaches, doctor's visits in a foreign language, finding an apartment, accidentally buying the wrong groceries due to translation mistakes...basically, normal expat life.

Fast forward-I fell in love with an American soldier stationed in Germany and we got married. I began my life in Germany as an Army wife. Cue totally new expat experience! I had access to our base Commissary and PX, COLA, VAT forms, gas rations, on post clinic, etc. Many Pop Tarts were eaten.

Having lived as a civilian expat and a military expat, I have to admit, the military does make a lot of things easier. We get help finding a house, getting our cars registered, getting a driver's license, and thanks to the commissary I can find some of my favorite American foods from home. These are all great benefits and privileges we are allowed as the families of service members, and yes, the perks do make living in a foreign country easier.

But ultimately, the definition of "expat" is one who lives outside their native country. I consider anyone living abroad long term an expat. For all of our privileges and tastes of home as military affiliates, that's all they are-mere tastes of the home we were ordered to leave behind. 

Even when I was in my "military bubble", I never forgot I was living abroad. Our duty station was tiny, so I bought most of our groceries at German grocery stores (since oftentimes the Commissary's shelves would be empty for weeks). If something wasn't available at our little PX (which was all the time), I ordered it online or took the train to the nearest town 30 minutes away. When the clinic was full or went through periods of not accepting anyone other than active duty service members, I went off post to German doctors for treatments. Every one of my new mom friends gave birth in German hospitals. I spoke German with my German landlord. I had a vibrant life outside the military base, something I actively cultivated and took pleasure in.

Besides the everyday stuff, just like civilian expats, we get lonely. We struggle through a foreign language. We try to make friends and integrate into the local culture. We feel like outsiders. We have good days and bad days and days where we'd give anything to just go home and go back to normal life.

Yes, the military gives us some perks. But it doesn't keep us from the struggles of living abroad that "normal" expats go through. If we can't call ourselves expats, then what are we? Does it make our struggles and experiences and successes and advice less meaningful? Does it diminish the lives we've created far from home? Does it take away our right to long for our American home or to feel genuine love for our temporary German home? In my personal experience, did I suddenly lose my "expat card" the day I quit my job in Berlin, notified my landlady and moved down to Bavaria to be with Fionn? How could I go from "real expat" to "fake expat" in the space of a few hundred miles? That just doesn't make sense.

The line between what makes an expat "authentic" or not is too blurry and too personal to quantify, in my opinion. Every individual's experience is different.

This is what I struggled with on the drive home. During my time abroad, I deeply connected with the identity of "expat", whether I was in Berlin working in an office on a work visa or in Bavaria buying a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter at the Commissary. I was far from home, dealing with it, and I felt good knowing there was a community of people who felt the way I did, both on post and off in the civilian world. To me, military expats and civilian expats have more things in common than differences.

Being an expat is part of my life story.



So what's your take on this? Should military families be called expats or should they go with another word? And what should that word be?

Also wanted to note that I have no ill feelings towards Deanna-I love her blog and I thought this was an interesting topic that brought up a lot of questions. I'm all for mixing things up and getting conversations started!




38 comments :

  1. I'm an expat in every sense of the word in that I don't have military support. Though I think my experience is Germany may be strikingly different from yours (I pay VAT, have a German Driver's License and I had to go through the headache of getting a residence permit, etc. etc.) but in no way does that mean you weren't expat. Perhaps while you enjoyed the pleasures of Kraft Mac & Cheese and Poptarts, who would the rest of be kidding if we didn't just admit our envy? To deny you of the expat title is ridiculous. Ultimately you were living in a foreign in the best way possible - great for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The other thing is, the military moves thousands of soldiers and families in and out of Germany each year. They have to have their own streamlined systems in place to save time and money and to maintain readiness. How can a soldier do his job if his wife is freaking out that she can't buy groceries she can read? For a regular expat, that's a learning curve. When you have hundreds of people ordered to Germany who would never have gone there otherwise, you need some extra hand holding. It always kinda bugged me, but I'm not the kind of person the system is designed for. So I think there are different levels of expat experience on an army base...I was always thankful for the perks after three years of non army expat life!

      If I was still in Germany I'd totally hook you up with Mac and cheese and pop tarts btw ;)

      Delete
  2. Hey Shannon! I love that yiu created your own post about it and that the discussion will continue on. I love several of the points you made in this,mesepcially about your identity and experience. But, I'm going to, very respectfully, disagree that the you go through many of the same things as a military expat. The experience I had through the military is nothing like the one I had coming over here on my own. But in the end, maybe that is the difference: the experience. Thanks again for continuing it on! And I don't have any ill feelings either. It's nice to have an open discussion about things whether we agree or disagree. It's always nice to try and understand the perspectives of others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting! The one thing I kept thinking about yesterday is that military expats do tend to be different people than regular expats. Every Army base is going to have that group of people who hate Germany and would never have left America if they hadn't been ordered to by the Army. I think those are the kind of people who never leave base, stay in the bubble, and complain for three years. I think the Army also caters to that group, creating a self contained world so they don't have to live in big bad, Germany. It's especially bad at bigger bases. I personally thought the Army did way too much hand holding...a lot of the start up stuff I could've handled myself! But the demographics are more varied that most civilian expats, who tend to be more knowledgable and open to the outside world, and might have chosen to move to Germany. To me, I feel like those people kind of give the rest of us a bad name haha.

      Btw I totally didn't know you were a milspouse. Which base were you stationed at in Germany?

      Delete
    2. I don't mention it too often as it's just something that's in the past but we were stationed in Spangdahlem, the same area I'm in now. I think that is part of what lead me to compare because it's so apples to apples, you know?

      Delete
    3. Welllll I would say it's apples to apples for you, but then there's the question of Army vs Air Force bases (USAF wins every time) and plus there are lots of different posts in Germany. I was in Hohenfels aka the Unloved Forgotten Stepchild of USAEUR, so I feel like my experience abroad was totally different from people at Graf or Ktown. I mean, even Germans had a hard time living in Hfelz ;)

      Delete
    4. I'm going to have to agree with Deanna. I don't think of foriegn exchange students as expats either. Being in a country on a student visa is a totally different thing. Of course if you live in a student as a military wife or a student you can consider yourself an expat but it's going to be a different experience than someone who in that country working and staying for an open ended amount of time. Students and military personal don't have the headache of finding a place to live, organizing moves, finding jobs etc. etc. You also have a community of other students and other military people so I don't think it's as lonely or isolating.

      Delete
    5. Hi Sara! Thanks for commenting. While we do have help moving, it is certainly not without headache. If you live off post (as we had to) you're given a list of available places and told "good luck". You must find and organize your living situation. We had some friends who waited for housing for 4 months. We are also responsible for organizing our move and getting ourselves settled. There are things in place to help, but no one walks into a ready made life.

      The thing is, there's no one size fits all military experience. We were stationed at a tiny outpost. It was rural, it was in the middle of nowhere, and most of my husbands coworkers were unmarried, which meant I spent my first year there with no friends and unable to find a job. It was extremely hard. Other people stationed in Germany easily find jobs and walk into a thriving community. I just think it's hard to generalize.

      Delete
    6. Deanna, if you were initially stationed in Spangdahlem and you still live in the area don't you think you had it easier with the military giving you your start with everything you know about that area? If you were there for three years (or however long you were there) with the military before you decided to live there I think it's different than someone moving completely to a new place on their own. Plus you say your husband is German? Doesn't that give you a big upper hand as well? More so than someone moving to a new country without any help at all or a partner that is from that country?

      Delete
    7. Of course! I'm not saying the military held your hand, I'm not saying that you aren't an adult who had to do things for yourself. I'm just saying that it's different.

      I think maybe because you are on the other side of the debate you don't know what's it like starting an apartment hunt from scratch with no help from anyone. Getting a job, a visa, taking the stupid integration course required to become a permanent resident, being the only person who speaks English for 50 km, having to pay for your move or your flight home. It's just different. It doesn't make your expat experience less than mine. It just means that maybe you can buy furniture whereas someone like me wouldn't because I would never pay the thousands of Euros to move it internationally. I can't take anything with me! No way I would pay all the money to move a car internationally! Do you know how hard it is to get a car loan in Germany?! Probably not, because you don't need to apply for one since the military moved your car. Maybe you don't have to drive 120 km to meet up with other expats and your health insurance isn't in German, your bank isn't in German, you aren't being paid a German salary or paying killer German taxes.

      I guess I would say I'm an expat and you are a military expat? I feel like there should be a qualifier there to explain to people the differences in experience that people have.

      Delete
    8. You have some good points, but I just wanted to clear up a few things. I met my husband in Berlin while I was working for a German company. I applied in German, interviewed in German, got my German visa, worked all day in German, organized a lease for an apartment in German, and all the other stuff you mentioned. I was, by your definition, a civilian expat. I met my husband in Berlin, we got married a few months later, and I quit my job and moved to be with him in Bavaria, which began my stint as a military expat. After we got married, I paid out of pocket to ship my belongings and my car from the States, as well as my plane ticket, since the Army doesn't pay to move spouses if you get married after the move. That's why I chose to counter Deanna's post in the first place-I knew exactly what it was like from both sides, and I know firsthand that civilian expats have a ton of hoops to jump through and much less help than military expats do.

      You are totally right though, it is a lot harder to get set up without the military. When Fionn and I began the process of getting me set up on the military side of things, I couldn't believe how easy it was in comparison to my experience before, and I loved all of the instant community opportunities with lots of English speakers I could befriend. I love that they paid to move us back to the states and for our ticket home. But, a lot of civilian companies also do that as well, especially when they are ordering you to move in the first place.

      Maybe the true distinction is between people who come over here "rogue" vs on assignment? I had several commentators who pointed out that they are civilians but had lots of help getting set up like with the military. I would also imagine that people who immigrate to Germany to be with their German partner or to become German citizens would have a much different experience than, say, someone working for Siemens for 3 years.

      Thanks for your comments by the way, you bring up some good points!

      Delete
  3. I read Deanna's post yesterday and also could not stop thinking about it and how I felt. I have never lived outside of the US in connection with the military but have lived as a student, on a work visa, and now as having permanent residency in Sweden in connection to being married as a Swede and I feel even though each of the experiences were different each gave me the opportunity to identify as expat if I chose to. I will say that in my current situation with living permanently in Sweden and no plans to return to America I think it is most accurate to call myself an immigrant. To me the term expat applies to people living long term but not permanently out of their home country such as you did. I do suppose it comes down to semantics but also personal experience. I mean my husband was in America for almost three years as a student and got grants for school from Sweden that went into a Swedish bank account but that does not mean he was not an expat and through his student visa he got access to healthcare that as an American I could not get which resulted in very cheap doctors and hospital visits but once again those perks did not lessen his experience as an expat!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a great point. Living abroad experiences are not created equal, and I think they're way too individual to quantify.

      I think immigrant is a much better word to use for people in your situation. My dad was born and raised in Europe, but moved to America, married an American and settled there. In my mind, he is NOT an expat, he's an immigrant. The mindset is so much different when you're making a new, permanent life in a country than saying "this is my life for the next 3,5,10,etc years). The temporary nature makes you an expat in my opinion.

      Delete
  4. I love that you posted this. I read both posts and although I could didn't commented on Deanna's I feel like your post was a more positive outlet for me to do so. I agree with your post to a T especially since we are coming from the same area. These two lines you wrote were especially brilliant. "Does it make our struggles and experiences and successes and advice less meaningful?" "To me, military expats and civilian expats have more things in common than differences." Basically discounting someone's experiences by saying how hard your own are doesn't really do anything. With that said, I totally know where she (Deanna) is coming from. Military families do not have as hard of an expat experience as others doing it completely on their own, and I would never claim that my experience is easier because it's not. By why is that even something that needs to be compared? I totally know the military spouses that live on post, rarely go outside of post, and try to keep their lives as American as possible. But I can honestly say that that isn't my experience here. I live off post, have German friends, and try to stay off post as much as possible. I can't help it that I have orders for Germany and quite honestly in ways I have more trouble with ties to the military such as not being able to get a job off post which makes jobs extremely competitive. In the end, I don't like being told that I can't call myself an expat even though the literal sense of the word rings true to my lifestyle. But regardless, I don't go around telling people I'm an expat and I don't tell them I'm a military family member either. I'm just an American living in Germany, regardless of the reason and unlike "regular expats" we can't leave (well unless I wanted to live without my husband). Regardless, I have no problem calling myself a military expat, if that would make people feel better, because there is a big distinction between the two but then if we are needing to make distinctions for whatever reason then maybe "regular expats" should call themselves immigrants. Interested to hear more thoughts from you or Deanna if she is reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Loved everything about this comment.

      Delete
    2. Thanks and I meant to say, "and I would never claim my experience is harder because it's not."

      Delete
    3. Loved your comment, Brittany. I totally agree-no one is debating that military families enjoy perks that make the transition abroad smoother, but using that as a way to quantify "expatness" kind of opens the can of worms that devolves into a contest of "who has it worse". It can easily be flipped on its head to "things civilian expats DONT have to deal with" like deployments, being a target when you're in public, dealing with locals' hostility towards the military...each lifestyle has its pros and cons. At the end of the day, we're all living abroad and should get to call ourselves what we want.

      Delete
    4. I was about to write this same thing. Great comment. And thanks for writing this post, Shannon!

      Delete
  5. I haven't commented on the other post yet, but I will. An expat, by definition, is someone residing in another country. The fact that we shipped our car, moved ALL of our belongings, and rented a house in another country for two years, qualifies me to say that I was an expat. I wasn't just traveling through; I lived there. Even though I used facilities on base, I also used them off as well. I had my baby in an American hospital, but I had check-ups in an Italian hospital; I got prescriptions at the local pharmacy, and my dog even went to an Italian vet. I think that was a very generalized statement she used, and not one that can so easily be determined. We lived a little more than 30 minutes from our base in Italy and I was surrounded by other Italians. I learned the language, had (italian) friends in the community, and shopped "on the economy" (which apparently is not a phrase any expat should use). Like you said in your last comment, "the temporary nature makes you an expat." I don't know, I could go on and on about this, but I don't think this particular subject could ever find a middle ground, because people will be passionate about it one way or another.

    By the way...you're in Georgia? That's where I am now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true. A lot of us (myself included) had lives abroad that were heavily immersed in local culture. Sure, the Army helped to get me started, but afterwards I lived my life much like I had before the Army and did little on post.

      Does having a base disqualify you from being an expat? What about expats in Saudi Arabia who live in compounds? Can they be called "real" expats? Or if a company gives you perks or help with transition, does it lessen your experience? I don't think so. You live abroad, you're an expat.

      And yep, we're in GA. Lovely Ft Benning! ;)

      Delete
    2. I don't think anyone is saying being the in military 'lessons' your experience in another country. It does make it a lot easier. If you want to understand why you aren't technically an expatriate then you have to understand the definition of the word and why it doesn't apply to students. It is someone who leaves their country to live somewhere else. It used to be a negative word. The reason the military is still in Germany is because of WWII, America is still occupying Germany as a country it invaded and conquered. So no, the military is technically, by the definition, not expatriates. That doesn't lesson your experiences or mean you don't have a lot in common with expats.

      : banish, exile
      2
      : to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one's native country
      intransitive verb
      : to leave one's native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one's native country

      Delete
  6. As an expat, neither military nor student, I don't have to look for a job or find a place to live in most of the countries I have moved to. My expat experience is vastly different from that of others and yet I am most definitely an expat. I have lived in 6 countries in 4 years. I deal with all the emotional side effects of leaving behind my home, getting to know different cultures, struggling with the language, getting to know the norms of that society. I think that military families are expats for all those reasons. So, they appear to get an awful lot of support. So do me and my partner. We have our visas arranged, our accommodation sorted (in most countries) a car and/or driver available for our use. We arrived in Angola and were handed health insurance documents and mobile phones with credit before we were taken to a fully furnished and equipped apartment. When I fell down the stairs and tore ligaments in my ankle, I was escorted to a hospital and accompanied the entire way by someone who spoke the local language because I don't speak Portuguese.

    I'm really glad you wrote a response to Deanna's post. I loved her post, and yours, and the way they have sparked debate. I've been intrigued by people's personal perspectives and my husband and I spent much time yesterday talking amongst ourselves about what it means to be an expat. Awesome blog work to both of you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Amy! I love your insight (and I had no idea you'd been so many places!) I agree, there are different kinds of expat experiences. Many of the civilian expats I met in Nurnberg had a tremendous amount of support from their companies-furnished housing arranged, visas taken care of, and stipends for drivers licenses, etc.

      I think in the case of most expats, our individual circumstances vary (your job, your support from your company, length of stay in country) but the big stuff is all the same-being far from home, loneliness, navigating a foreign culture, etc. That's the common bond that unites us. I always thought it was cool that I could talk about my expat struggles in Germany and people all over the world could relate, whether they were Army wives, English teachers, young professionals, students, or trailing spouses.

      Delete
  7. Another example, my husband is in the German military and he was deployed to Kosovo as a peace keeper for five months. We would not say he was an expat during that time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good point, but a deployment is not the same as a duty assignment. A deployed soldier is different than a soldier and his family being relocated to a new duty station. A deployed soldier knows he will go home at the end of his tour. A military family will go to whatever duty station they are assigned next-another German post, Korea, back to America...

      Delete
  8. By definition, everyone who lives outside of their native country is an expat. I think it's sad that someone would say that just because a person moves to Europe through the military that they are not an expat. We are not military but we moved here with a large company who offers things like tax assistance and helped us with finding an apartment, setting up bank accounts, getting cell phone contracts, etc. So does that mean we are not expats because we had help and some people do not?! At the end of the day we are all living 4,000+ miles away from our family and close friends. We all have to deal with Germans on a day to day basis and we are all considered foreigners here. I hate the idea of comparing who has it more difficult here and belittling others experiences based on the circumstances in which they became an expat. It should be about helping and empowering fellow expats to have the best possible experience abroad, regardless of how they came to live in Germany, not saying you are more of an expat because you did it the hard way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Allison. When you're far from home and dealing with all the struggles that come with that, you need all the support and community you can get, and dividing people into an "expat hierarchy" doesn't help that cause at all. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. I'm not in the military, and am not married to someone in the military. I am an American who is lucky to have duel citizenship with Ireland and I married a Frenchman. I guess judging by some of the definitions that some people have regarding 'real' expat status, I wouldn't have been one since I didn't require any sort of visa to live in Europe. But c'mon! I was totally an expat and so were you! I don't think struggle constitutes expat status. I think a lot of it has to do with mindset. Maybe there are some American military families who don't venture far off the base, would I consider them expats, maybe not. But for anyone who really embraces their new home and culture, then I think they're expats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You no-visa faker, you! ;) I totally agree with you though. Let's just all be happy expats together and complain about how Europeans can't nail Mexican food :)

      Delete
  10. I really appreciated how you commented on Deanna's post and what you've done here. It's a really lovely post that articulates your own thoughts and experiences so well (and done respectfully, too, so bonus points to you!). Everyone's going to have a different experience, it's partly on your situation and partly on the choices you make.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ace! I really tried to stay level headed and respectful about the whole thing. Deanna spoke about her own experiences and feelings and I wanted to offer a counter view based on my experiences and feelings since I have also been on both sides. I think the biggest problem was that military bloggers felt like taking away the title of "expat" also meant we should be excluded from the community or that we had no standing to write about expat topics. I don't think Deanna meant it that way, but that's what a lot of people jumped to, hence the emotional response. I think a lot of us also don't want to identify as "just military" because that often has a bad connotation we try to distance ourselves from.

      At the end of the day, everybody's different and yet also the same. We should all just go and eat cupcakes instead of arguing over semantics ;)

      Delete
  11. I don't 'qualify' because I am here on a German passport and Malcolm is a student. But just because we got INTO the country easily, doesn't mean everything is simple. If the definition of 'expat' is that one lives outside of ones home country, then I think that it leaves plenty of room to include plenty of people, regardless of experience. What about, hypothetically for example, somebody who studies a foreign language in their homecountry, then moves to the country where it's spoken, stays in touch with their family back home, gets lots of parcels sent to them and suffers no culture shock? Or somebody who moves to an area overseas where many others from their own culture also live? Are they then LESS of an expat? I say it's their good fortune and lets be happy for them. "Expat" seems to be becoming a snobby (for lack of a better word) term that unnecessarily excludes people for no good reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that you and Sara Louise brought this up, because a lot of people were quantifying expatness by how much struggle you had to go through and lots of people cited visas. I had not even thought about people in your situation.

      You are totally right though, I believe it's all in the mindset. If people embrace the term expat, with all the ups and downs that come with that life, then good for them! You could just as easily come to another country through "expat approved" methods, absolutely hate it and completely immerse yourself in the local expat bubble. It's all on the individual.

      Delete
    2. I'm totally with you on the mindset thing. Some people are 'forced' to live overseas due to work and may just want to have as little to do with the culture as possible, while some people really can't wait to get out there and explore no matter what brought them there.

      It's funny because I've been thinking about your and Deanna's post the past couple of days and I have to say, for me, it really all goes back to mindset, and it's not even just the military... take my cousin for example. She is English and so is her husband, but her husband plays pro-rugby in Toulon, France. She has made the decision to take French lessons and get out there and explore France, but there are loads of other wives of players from Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa, who have no interest in getting into the culture. They want to do their time, watch Sky TV, and get out. They're not in the military, what do we call them? Are they still expats even though they don't speak French and don't mix with the locals?

      And then there's a friend of mine who's husband works for an American tech company in Montpellier; the company has helped with all of the paperwork, has helped them get a house, and the kids could go to an international school if they wanted them to but they choose the local school... what are they?

      And there's me... when I first became an 'expat', it was when I moved to the US from Ireland. I had Irish citizenship and Irish family, but I had never lived there before. Was that an expat experience? I think it was because I still missed home, payed Irish taxes, and had to do without my American goodies. But did my lack of struggle discount my expatness?

      It's definitely an interesting topic, but either way, for me, it truly is all about mindset, either you want to be an expat, or you don't. Personally, I was most definitely an expat.

      Delete
    3. I love your examples! It's just not for other people to decide what your experience abroad should be called. Reading though a lot of the comments on the original post, people were throwing out these anecdotes of "this one time I saw an army family and they (insert non assimilating behavior here) and then everyone applauds and says, "you're RIGHT! They AREN'T expats after all!"

      This is baloney, and it's silly to assume that just because one person is that way we all are. That is called stereotyping. And you have great points-what about when we assign these "non expat qualifiers" on civilian expats?

      To me it's a non issue. I'm an expat whether the internet calls me one or not. If you live away from your home country, you go through struggles. We all do. We might have it easier in some areas, but there are things we have to deal with that others don't, so it evens out. We shouldn't go all "grass is greener" and say some one else's life is perfect when we have no idea what they're struggling with.

      Anywho loved your comment. You and Erica had some great examples I never would've thought up!

      Delete
  12. I loved this post Shannon! In fact I've just been reading your entire blog and really enjoyed it :) Anyways, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Why do we all feel the need to label ourselves and each other?! It's crazy! Everybody's overseas experiences are different whether through choice or not. I'm wondering what the heck I'd be described as. I'm from Scotland. I'd already lived overseas in a couple of places before I married my husband who was in the US Air Force. When we moved overseas with the AF, I not only had to get used to Germany but also America (albeit on base America) - double culture shock! I say live and let live and enjoy reading expat blogs! Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an interesting discussion! I am going to Paris for three weeks in Nov. and Dec. and I am calling myself an ex-pat for those three weeks. Plain and simple - I won't be living in my home country but will be living in a foreign country. No visa necessary, friends have already rented an apartment for us and I will be able to speak French which I adore. So forget basing ex-pat on how much you struggle. I look forward to being a 3 weeker ex-pat with lots of privileges and whatever struggles I have will be fun, new experiences to look back on and smile and hopefully even laugh!.
    Jennie

    ReplyDelete