What is an expat?

Today I am linking up with Tales from Windmill Fields.  She asks the question of "what is an expat for you"? 

According to dictionary.com, here is the definition of the term expatriate:
  1. to banish (a person)from his or her native country.
  2. to withdraw (oneself) from residence in his or her's native country. 
  3. to withdraw (oneself)from allegiance to one's country.
J#3 checking our our plane to Amsterdam

Well, I can tell you for sure that the only one of those definitions that applies for me is #2. I definitely wasn't banished from the U.S. (unless someone has something to tell me?), and I absolutely have not withdrawn my allegiance for the U.S. either.  

So that leaves me as someone who "withdrew myself from residence in my native country".  

But that doesn't answer the original question.  

What does being an expat mean to me?  

It means so many things.  And after the morning I have had (from kids taunting my son in Dutch--at least I think they were--to almost literally getting STUCK in the grocery store) I am going to try and not go the negative route.  Because as in any situation, there are always positives and negatives. 

Being an expat means:
  • taking a chance  (+)
  • leaving family and friends (-)
  • experiencing some adventure(+)
  • being a bit lost--figuratively and literally (and I think some of this might depend on where you live and if you know the first language of the country you live in, or like me, don't.) (-) 
  • making new friends (+)
  • having to translate food packaging--minimal, but hey, it is something I still have to do on some occasions to this day (-)
  • growing closer as a nuclear family (+)
  • not having access to things (food, stores, etc.) that you know and have always had nearby (-)and (+)
  • getting to experience a new culture (+)
  • spending just about every day learning something new (-) & (+), depending on the day and what it is you are having to learn
  • having the opportunity to travel more easily throughout Europe (+)
  • did I mention being away from family and friends?  (-) (-)
getting to show your family and friends the sights
is definitely a highlight
(Cologne, April '10 with my brother)

Would I do this all over again?  For sure.  I don't want to look back and have many regrets in life.  And I think turning down this opportunity would have definitely been a possible regret.  

Do I look forward to being repatriated?  Absolutely.  There is nothing like seeing your littles develop those lifelong relationships with family and friends.  I can only imagine how much more they will develop once we are back in the U.S. for good. 
cousin & step-grandpa getting
J#3 ready for football  (July '11)

linking up with:


Windmill Tales said...

Hi there! Thanks for linking up! You are right that being an expat has many positives and negatives. I really think expat is an individual thing. Look forward to reading more posts soon!

Farmgirl Paints said...

well i can't even begin to imagine how strange moving to a new country would be. that is some MAJOR adjusting. hopefully you have better weather than MN. i know i'm in for it too when i visit again. all the familiarity will quickly unravel all my best efforts at acclimating here. i should put off that visit for as long as possible;) great to hear from you.

Jen said...

@Windmill TalesThanks for reading--I enjoy your blog, and thought this was a great opportunity to link up. Look forward to future topics.

Jen said...

@Farmgirl PaintsBut you might not want to wait TOO long, I think that might have been part of my problem. :-) Have to say the weather here is better than in MN, so not going to complain about that at all! Thanks for reading, I enjoy your blog and look forward to it each time you post!

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