Friday, 26 February 2010

Negativity in the Expat World

"The problem is, and this sounds really obvious, that when you move to a foreign country you're a long way from home. What I mean is, you're a long way from your mates and family. You're forced to fit in with everyone else. You don't have the comfort of knowing that later on, down the pub, you can tell everyone "and then she poured coffee on my cornflakes" and get some sympathy."

-In the Merde for Love, by Stephen Clarke

Although no one here has tried to pour coffee on my cornflakes, this paragraph in the above book struck a resonance with me. When things happen here that seem completely, cultural strange to me, there often isn't anyone around that I can look to who will confirm the ridiculousness. That being said, one thing I avoid like the plague down here is other expats who only want to complain. Most often, it seems that other Americans are the most likely to make the assumption that I'm going to readily agree with their thinking that Australia is backwards, the people are less intelligent, and the way back home is always the right way. I can understand the frustration with things being different, but the best way to keep yourself from settling into your new life is to surround yourself with negativity. It's ok to complain a bit, and it's often necessary to a certain extent, but finding the positives in your new environment, even if hard work, is important.


Expat mum said...

I've just written a piece about this for Expat Focus. Entitled "Some Things to Consider Before Making the Big Move", it warns about some of the things people might miss as an expat (family, friends etc.) It's not meant to be a long whine, rather to help people decide whether the expat life is for them.

Suzer said...

Good article, thanks Toni. I agree that there are a lot of things to ponder beforehand. Once you have made the move, however, it is best to get stuck into the good things.

steveg said...

Hi Susan

I think your posting has hit just the right note, especially the bit about some groups of expats who only seem to spend their time moaning about their adopted country - as you know I have been around enough forums for this to have been a constant pain in the bum. An occasional WTF? is not only accepted but is pretty much expected, but for some it has become a way of life.

I know I am biased, but my Paula has never had some of the problems regularly posted about as she has got on and integrated and is all the happier for it - even though she still does not agree with non rinsing of washing up and the lack of mixer taps :-)

Good to know that you have the right attitude down there (as you had here too) Good on yer!


A Free Man said...

OK, that was a bit harsh. But I've run into a couple of particularly whingy expats lately.

A Free Man said...

One of the reasons that I avoid Americans is the whinging about things they don't have in Australia. I don't give a damn if you can't get hamburger helper here. You shouldn't eat hamburger helper here. Go get some sushi. Or better yet, go back to the States.

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

Here's the thing: SO MANY things are done better here than in Italy, or in the US, which actually feels more home to me - at least the places where I have lived - but it's the grumpiness that gets to me. The reserved, quiet, a little closed-off thing. Thank goodness there are plenty of expats here or I would become famous in Zurich as "the one who talks really loud" or "that weirdo who smiles at strangers".