Three Types of Extreme Expats You Might Meet Abroad
The One Who Can’t Wait to Leave
When you’re chatting to this person, you might sometimes wonder why they’re still an expat, given how often they talk about wanting to go back to their home country. Making constant comparisons between your home and the country you’re an expat in won’t help you adjust and settle — though this expat doesn’t seem too interested in adapting to their surroundings. They make very little effort to hold small talk — or even say “hello” — in the local language, socialize exclusively with other expats (usually from their own country), and spend most of their time stuck in a work-home-work-home routine. In the spirit of giving the benefit of the doubt: any sense of adventure and thrill of being somewhere new may have just worn off for this grumpy, tired expat.
When you meet this expat, you might realize that you’re having a much better time than some other people living abroad, though it may not always feel like it. You can’t help but wonder why they decided to become an expat in the first place. It is almost always a choice, after all. Regardless of what brought them to where they are, it’s clear not only to their friends that they’re struggling with their life abroad.
If you’re this type of expat, the best thing may be to pack up and get on a plane home. And if leaving ASAP is not really an option, think about how you can change things for the better and work on accepting what you can’t — maybe you’ll discover expat life isn’t so awful after all.
The One Who Is Just Too Much
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the kind of expat who is simply too intense. For sure, you have met an expat hell bent on fully immersing themselves in the local culture of where they’re living.
This person will refuse to speak English (or any language other than that of the country) with you, most likely correcting your best efforts. It’s better than a token gesture at the odd “please” or “thank you”, granted. Somehow, though, you find yourself cringing at their over accentuation of certain words and the way they class themselves as “practically a local now”.
This expat is experienced, and they’ll make sure you know it. With them usually making private jokes about places you’ve never been to and people you’ve never met, you’ll likely struggle to get a word in edgeways when you run into this type of expat. They can’t stop talking about all the countries they’ve already lived in and the native languages they picked up along the way. Having completely left behind their old culture, our seasoned expat can’t wait to tell you how much better life is abroad than in their home country.
Trying to have a quick chat with this person is nigh on impossible — stick to a tactical-yet-friendly smile and nod unless you have a spare hour.
The One Who Moved to Find Themselves
Our final type of expat you may encounter is best described as a nomad, moving from country to country, continent to continent, seeking some form of higher truth. This expat searches for the meaning in everything — and I mean, everything — and they’re dying to tell you all about their ongoing spiritual journey. We’re all for self-reflection and self-improvement, don’t get me wrong. It’s that it sometimes comes across as a little boastful.
While endeavoring to find themselves, you might wonder whether this type of expat has actually lost themselves somewhere along the way. It’s something of an unspoken truth well known among these expats: how enlightened you are is, in fact, directly correlated to how many gap years you have taken.
If you encounter this expat, remember: it’s not a competition, and your expat life isn’t any less important. And with each time our transformed expat insists leaving their 9–5 job was the best decision they’ve ever made, it becomes slightly less convincing.
Plus: The One Who Becomes Your Best Friend
Don't let these "types" of expats discourage you. Socializing with other expats can help you settle into a place faster and lead to life-long connections that stay with you no matter where you live! After all, they've been in the same situation as you and understand the importance of friendship when you're far from home.