Expat types are a real thing, after all, we are all very diverse people so it is only natural to expat expats to fall into different groups. “The way you think influences the way you feel, and the way you feel influences how you act.” I heard this quote earlier this year and it resonated with me as a mantra for life.
It isn’t particularly deep or thought-provoking, but things don’t always have to be for them to matter the same. The simple, but poignant, message in this quote is that we are the creator of our own experiences.
If woe is you, then woe is what you’ll endure. If you approach your days with a positive zeal, then you may allow yourself to embrace challenges better. This all is relevant when speaking of the different types of expats living and teaching abroad.
It doesn’t matter which country you go to, if there’s an ex-pat community (especially of teachers), you’ll notice the “types.”
Just here for fun and travel
Listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Honestly, every single one of us who moves abroad does so because of the allure of living in a foreign place while traveling within and outside of it.
In turn, traveling is fun, so we’re all here for fun and travel. But, there are the ones who are only here to tick it off their list, have a ton of fun in the process, and don’t care much for teaching.
This is where the issues come in as this kind of expat begins using the school, and essentially the education of his students as a means to have fun and travel. The real people that suffer here are the students.
Teaching abroad is a full-time job, and it should be treated as such. Nobody is telling you not to have fun in your free time, but treat your job seriously because the education of a group of young people is at stake.
Become one of them
These are the ex-pats who totally immerse themselves in the culture. That means language, food, learning history, befriending locals, co-worker dinners, and more, all in an effort to come as close to the native lifestyle as possible.
It’s easy to think that these types may have richer, more authentic experiences; but, it’s all perspective and what you’re looking to obtain. The greatest gift of these ex-pats is usually the effort they’ve put into learning the language which allows them to connect with many aspects of the culture.
Teaching may or may not be their strong suit, but they work to get better because it’s now their job. They will likely renew their contracts multiple times and truly treat the country as their home.
Lastly, you have the tweeners who are obviously a hybrid of both. Tweeners care to get a real feel for the culture, but just enough where it isn’t imperative to be fluent in the language or know all the history.
These types will go to all the country’s events, festivals, try every dish, meet locals without even trying, and have a fun time bouncing between ex-pat and native circles.
The actual teaching experience may feel like a short-term (couple years) gig, but one that will benefit career wise. The tweeners may stay for one year, then hop to another country; or, re-up for a second year, because the first was pretty good until they decide what’s next.
Who Am I?
I can unequivocally admit that I fall into the last category. Being on my 2nd round of living abroad (1 year in the Czech Republic, 1 in Korea), I’ve enjoyed both places and feel satisfied with the extent of my experiences.
However, I never felt like either was/is home, and my goal is always to accomplish everything in that year, so I can move on to the next mission. None of these 3 categories are better or worse than the next. It’s all about what you think you want. Then once you think it, you’ll create it.
What have your experiences been like with meeting other expats? Would you say that you agree with these categories? Maybe you have other categories you would like to add? Let us know in the comments section below.
Kenneth is a Travel and Teaching Blogger. Kenneth began his ESL teaching adventure in Prague, Czech Republic before his far east journey to the ROK (Republic of Korea), better known as, South Korea. You can call him an avid traveler or a dedicated teacher, but the title he’s most proud of is “Bonafide Foodie.” Always seeking the signature tastes of other cultures is a true passion, and he’s got pictures to prove it. Ultimately, however, Kenneth’s main goal is to share those real personal teaching and travel experiences that YOU can relate to.Please share!