Writing under the assumed title of ‘expat’, one has the responsibility to define this term, or at least make an attempt at doing so. Thus, begins a somewhat dubious effort.
When one leaves or moves from ones original culture/country, a dynamic occurs which pretty much affects anyone undertaking this action. A wide array of variables is involved but for the sake of simplicity, I will focus on only a few.
First, is this move precipitated by necessity or choice? If it is the former, there will probably be a more pronounced resistance to the new and bewildering culture than if said move was of free will. Under any circumstance, however, one thing that can just about be guaranteed is that, after a while, one will begin to realize that many ‘givens’ one has always taken for granted in the home culture will come to be challenged. And this is where the individual reaction to such a challenge will shape and color the subsequent experiences in the newly adopted land.
Generally, there is frustration, resistance, excitement, vibrancy of thoughts, and wonder to mention just a few. Chaotic as opposed to balanced would probably be a safe choice to describe ones state of mind during the early days and months of being in a new environment.
Some of the new ideas or perspectives are repugnant, others appear enlightening, and a mixture of everything in between can and will be experienced. What is absolutely certain though is that everybody re-examines their original way of thinking, some in small ways and others in more significant and far-reaching musings.
One can come away with a more appreciative and reinforced opinion of the original culture or just as likely to begin questioning and rejecting heretofore sacred values. More likely, it will be a mixture of all sorts of reactions. But, the one thing that all expats have in common is that they are never to see life in the same way as they did prior to moving. The experience is too profound to no have some type of life altering perceptions. Consequently, many expats will state that they feel as if they have one leg in one culture and another leg in the other culture—This may be both reinforcing and unsettling. For certain, one is at least a little more broadminded and most likely a tad more flexible when entertaining new realms and ideas.
So, expats generally have something in common: they all have had some significant experiences in new cultures that have challenged their status quo thinking and come away from this transformed to some degree. That is also why it is accepted that traveling is thought to be an educational process. Changing cultures is just that much more intense and deep.
This blog is primarily aimed at other expats but can also be used as a possible bridge from one culture to another.