What does it mean to be an expat? What does it bring to the people that we talked to? Let’s find out.
17% talk about transformation
It can be a partial transformation, similar to a cultural hybrid, as you are always learning the ways and costumes of your new world, while holding on to the ones you grew up with.
But also a total transformation, that completely changes the way you see the world, up to the point where some of our expat women feel they became part of it.
Living as an expat first opens the door to yourself, allowing you to become more free. Some of the girls mentioned: “I’m not afraid to go anywhere and be lost” or “Facing different challenges, you constantly learn new things about yourself.”
This change process can be amplified until one feels different from ‘normal’, in the most special way.
12% always felt they were different from the locals
That doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, it’s more related to accepting the differences between two cultures and knowing that you will always carry your nationality in your heart: “There is a difference between me and the ones who were born here and that’s never going to go away. I don’t want to delete my cultural background or turn into someone non-genuine.“
Nevertheless, 20% declare that in some cities, you automatically feel that you belong. And the winner is by far: New York! Followed by Amsterdam.
And this is why:
“All here are immigrants, expats, speak different languages, have accents, mix culture”.
“There are so many of us, that you somehow feel you belong here”.
The highest percentage – 25% – fund it difficult to be an expat.
It usually starts with feeling like in a strange, unusual situation, as nothing is familiar to you anymore: “It is definitely a little bit of a surreal experience. You have a bond with other expats and you have to work really hard to break into the local scene.”
It can get scary from times to times, especially when you don’t understand the language and local practices.
In in some cases in can be really hard, especially when your native country has a bad reputation: “It was like caring my own cross on the Via Dolorosa, especially because I came from Romania (n.r. to Germany)”
Still at least 16% consider it one of the most special life experiences
“It gives me an energy I don’t have when I’m at home – it must be all the stimulation from new experiences and meeting new people – I’d hate to miss out on anything”.
“Is a privilege, it’s an amazing opportunity to expand your horizons and become worldlier. Since I love change, I adjust myself pretty quickly and being different is a great thing”.
“There is so much to see and learn in the world. I feel very humble to see different lifestyles and learn different cultural value “
8% see it as a (much wanted) fresh start
“The best part as an expat is being far away. I just love it! Not the fact that I am a foreigner and know no one, I just love to land somewhere and start exploring”.
“A fresh start and that everything is possible.”
4% actually think it is the best and worst thing that can happen to you.
And we totally get the reasons why.
“The personal and often professional growth cannot be compared with anything. But at the same time, you become this weird blend called expat.”