The Ex-pat Manifesto

In response to the previous post, and to a call on Gaping Void for manifestos:

The Ex-pat manifesto: to be signed by all those people who have decided to go and live somewhere else by their own volition.

1. I live here because I want to. Just because I could be paid better for the same job back home does not give me the right to complain about it. In fact, just because anything at all is different here, I do not have the right to be rude about those whose country it really is (“the locals”).

2. Having infinite patience means it goes on forever, or, no matter how long those #*&¿#@ Spaniards (insert other expletive/nationality as appropriate) take to process a form or fix the plumbing, I’m the only one that cares if I loose my patience.

3. Even if I am conned, robbed, humiliated, lonely or homesick, it is worth remembering afterwards that I decided to step out of my comfort zone in the first place.

4. It really doesn’t matter if I hang out with the locals or with other ex-pats, as long as I am happy…

5. But those who continually complain about their new surroundings are to be avoided. It’s contagious.

6. Wow, everything is… new… it’s not the same as where I came from! What a chance to stimulate my senses! I will take photographs, maybe write a blog or keep a diary, produce podcasts, videos – I’m enjoying the fact that my new point of view is necessarily different, I’m revelling in these new opportunities to feel creative!

UPDATE: 7. When living somewhere you don’t originally come from, don’t resign yourself to the differences, just smile and get accustomed to them.

Please feel free to sign, or add to the ex-pat manifesto in the comments:

13 thoughts on “The Ex-pat Manifesto

  1. Jon Hundt

    point six : “Wow, everything is… new… it’s not the same as where I came from!” that just about sums it up for me. Every day is about seeing the normal day-to-day world from a different perspective. If daily life gets too settled and predictable, it’s time to move somewhere else.

    I never think of myself as an ‘ex-pat’, to me that implies an outsider who will likely ‘re-pat’ after a while. I’ve seen some annoyingly precious and self-congratulatory ‘ex-pat’ web-sites and chat groups where every member seems to be in business, working for some multi-national and loaded with money.

    I prefer to hang out with working people like myself, so I avoid ex-pat clubs and functions. In fact, if I hear/see people from my own country of origin I usually lay low until they’re out of sight!!

    And point 5 (avoid complainers) is very good advice, and certainly not limited to the ex-pat situation!

  2. Ben Post author

    I agree that the word ex-pat has terrible connotations. But I also think point 4 is also important, that it doesn’t matter who you hang out with. I have met some people who come here and refuse to talk to other Brits/Americans, saying ‘I will ONLY make friends with the locals’. I find that short-sighted too. My best friends here are from the UK, the States, Italy and beyond. I have many good Spanish friends, mostly via Marina’s old friend network, but I would never give up my other friends who don’t come from here either. Sometimes you really need to speak to someone with your own frame of reference… (i.e. came from somewhere else, live here now)

  3. Jon Hundt

    you’re right Ben, there’s no sense in setting meaningless restrictions on our behavior. In fact what I like in Spain is the mix of foreigners; we usually spend much of the time talking w/ visitors from the UK. For me they’re just more ‘foreigners’!

  4. Ben Post author

    I think I should add one more point to the manifesto: that occasionally it is OK to ignore all the points above and complain a bit. But only very occasionaly… and just a little bit 😉

  5. Tali

    Ben, you are indeed a very wise man. I think its ok to complain, not all the time or anything, but lets face it, Telefonica manage to turn me from placid to raging in 0.5 seconds. But my complaint is with Telefonica and not with “effing Spaniards”.

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