What does it mean to be an Expat and more interestely feel like an Expat.
Trent always said he felt different, I never really understood. When he was commuting he came and went, I stayed. I thought we were the same, both from the Sunshine Coast, Queenslanders through and through. It wasn’t until 7 years down the track that I truly understood how he felt. We’re Aussies at heart and will always go for Queensland in the state of Origin but some how I now feel different too. During my recent trip to Australia I got lost in the streets of my own home town and couldn’t collect the Christmas Day ham because I went to the wrong butcher, I realised I was a visitor in my own home town.
Home is where we live. It is, because we want it to be, but it also has to be. Imagine living overseas always wishing you were somewhere else, always pining for activities or social event in your original hometown. Many expats do. There are events I wish I could attend and some that I’m glad I don’t have to. It’s super important to us to live in the location of our choice and to call it home.
We take our belongings whenever we move, while many others don’t; particularly those who are contracted for a shorter time. In my experience people who don’t take their belongings are more likely to feel homesick, not always just sometimes, I’ve seen a pattern. It really depends on what’s important to you, for me, it’s my family including my dog, my decor and my artwork and my electronic gadgets. If I’ve got my things around me then I could be just about anywhere.
Oh and food is big one for me too. Not necessarily food from Australia, just familiar things we’ve come to know and love.
I’m very much still Australian but I somehow feel changed by my experiences, I know I’m not Fijian, but Fiji is my home. It’s difficult to put into words. I do know that if you’re an Expat and you’re reading this, I’m sure you can relate.
You know you’re an Expat
1. Your holiday must buy list includes random food and others items not available in the country you live in.
2. The second question you ask family members after they say they’re going to visit is, ‘how much spare luggage space do you think you’ll have?’.
3. Online shopping is almost a sport.
4. You know which countries are the best for buying what items, and you can quote the biosecurity rules off the top of your head.
5. Eating soursop, dim sum, chicken rice, morning glory, ota, motha, coconut water directly from the coconut or whatever the equivalent in your country is, seems completely natural and missed when you return to your home country for holidays.
6. Internet connection is vital and you haven’t used a normal phone for communicating with friends and family for years.
7. You have more apps for talking to friends and relatives overseas than most people know exist.
8. You know which countries are the best for buying what items, and you can quote the biosecurity rules off the top of your head.
9. Any flight under 6 hours seems short.
10. Exploring every corner of your new home is a regular weekend activity.
11. Making new friends almost instantly and helping out anybody in need is completely normal and you wonder there isn’t more of it in your home country.
12. Never getting used to people leaving
13. You spend more time than you should contemplating the next move or wondering when company X will be moving you again.
14. You’ve gained a perspective no other experience can come close to giving, that only other Expats would ever understand.
After you’ve been an Expat for a while, for me at least, it’s almost like there’s no going back. I’m changed forever, whether we stay in Fiji long term or return to Australia, I’m forever thankful for the insights I’ve gained and respective it’s allowed me to see and feel. I have four quite different points of view from which to see things now. I understand culture and cultural differences I never appreciated or knew to understand before. It’s difficult to explain, being an Expat is sometimes not easy but mostly a truly amazing experience, I’d recommend to most.