5 things NOT to say to an expat

I think every expat probably has a list of things they’re tired of hearing. Some of my top 5 are probably universal to all expats, while others are specific to my expat experience and life. But these are statements/questions that I hear ALL the time….not once or twice. So for my sake, for your other expat friends’ sake, take note. These words cross your lips, regardless of how nice the response is, your friend is probably pretty freaking annoyed.

When are you moving home?/When do you get to move home?

I don’t even know where “home” is! I have no idea where we’ll be living when we repatriate. Do you just mean America? And if you do in fact just mean America, there is a good chance when I move back to America, I’ll be living nearly an equal amount of hours away from you when I repatriate as I do now as an expat…. so what does it really matter? And what’s with the “get” to move home? I’m not being held against my will in another country, suffering and miserable. We made the choice to move abroad, and even though there are downsides, we couldn’t be happier with the choice. And honestly, I have no idea when we’re going to repatriate. Maybe in a year, maybe in 5… And more often than not, the people that want to know this are people that are very distant acquaintances that my country of residence doesn’t effect them or how often I see them whatsoever.

Definitely not held here against my will

Definitely not held here against my will

Must be a nice/Oh tough life (dripping with sarcasm and/or bitchiness in response)

Being an expat is a nice (or great) experience…no doubt. But that doesn’t mean life is all peaches are cream over here. First, relocating to another country (on a package or not) is scary, and hard, and unsettling, and stressful, and lonely. I’m not doing some big noble or admirable thing, but I’m also not living in a magical world where I don’t have issues. Do we get to travel more? Yes…but we were also a couple who traveled abroad once a year when we lived in the states anyway. We’re taking advantage of the cheaper flights, easier travel, and more time off.  But all the every-day issues I’d have in the states…I still have them here, except a lot of times they are more stressful and complicated. Errands, doctors, money… still have to deal with em all here but we’re trying to navigate doing all these everyday things in a new way, in a new country, with new rules and expectations. Oh and I get homesick and miss all my friends, family, celebrations, and struggles which can suck pretty hard.

I’m not complaining about expat life, I am pretty grateful for it…but it’s not all so different than yours. And you can certainly make some strides to move abroad if you’re up for it….

What a great time to have kids!

Oh, is it?

Often times I hear this, or indirectly hear it. I know it’s because I’m not working in the UK, thus in people’s minds it automatically makes it the most ideal time to pop out some pups.

You know when I think would be a great time to have kids? When I actually WANT to have kids! Call me crazy.

Being across the world without any family support or steady friends (as in friends not on expat assignments where they might be moving at any given time)? Totally ideal situation to be a first time mom! Being in a country with different and possibly not preferred medical systems in place? That sounds like a great time to have babies! Having to buy baby stuff at double the cost? Wonderful!

Not.

All these things can definitely be overcome and you can have healthy, happy babies and start a great family at as an expat….if you want that. That’s the key.

I also personally feel it’s a little insulting to think I can’t amuse myself without a job so I must give birth to give my life meaning/fill the hours. My hours are currently filled in ways much more preferable than with sh*tty diapers and spit up.

current things > changing diapers

current things > changing diapers

Why can’t you come home for X? You’re always flying….

If I had an infinite budget, I’d come home 4x a year…and definitely for every special occasion that arises. But I don’t have that money. And my husband doesn’t have unlimited vacation time. We have a great opportunity to see the world (or at the very least Scotland) and we need to/have to take advantage of it.   Flying back to the states costs a lot of money and a lot of time (especially to get to the Midwest)…and even though we wish we could be at every special occasion and we miss our friends and family dearly….the reality is we come home for Christmas and have a small, hypothetical list of other occasions that will bring us back stateside. Please try to understand, don’t take offense, and start planning a trip to come visit wee bonnie Scotland! BUT, that doesn’t mean we don’t want the invite! We’ll be glad to send you a gift and we are sad we can’t attend (most times)…it’s just not realistic.  But totally shunning us from invites makes us sad too.

Isn’t the weather miserable in Scotland?

Google, people! Unless you’re living in Southern California…who’s weather you calling miserable?! Aberdeen gets less average rainfall than Chicago (fact). Aberdeen is (much) warmer than Chicago in the winter (fact)…actually, we had some days this past winter warmer than San Antonio (fact). Aberdeen gets less snow than Chicago in the winter (fact). And since I personally hate anything warmer than 75 degrees F….No. The weather is just lovely in Scotland.

Totally awful weather

Totally miserable weather

Like awful.

Like awful.

Can barely leave the house.

Can barely leave the house.

7 Comments

  1. Deserae

    I love the Scottish weather too. I am right there with you on not wanting anything higher than 75 degrees. Great photos.

    Reply
  2. Zora

    I found your blog through House Hunters and was excited to read some about ex-pat life in Scotland. I was shocked by what I discovered. When I come across content that doesn’t resonate, I move on. Before I move on, I want to offer something: Lauren, the tone and tenor of your writing is SO nasty and bitter–hateful, really. I hope you can find some peace and heal whatever it is that is troubling you. Now, I know, I know. If you don’t like what you see, don’t read! Exactly why I’m moving on, but I hope you’ll consider WHY your friends don’t want to cross the pond to see you. Give it some thought.

    Reply
  3. Claire

    Lauren, I know you know that I have found your blog posts to be exceptionally HELPFUL and FUNNY and I want to thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m already getting many of these comments and I haven’t even moved yet!

    I am so ready to not have to experience the Midwest summers (YUCK).

    Just wanted to say thanks and can’t wait to read your next post.
    🙂

    Reply
    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Thanks Claire! Hope everything’s going smoothly (or as smoothly as possible!) in getting ready for your move. One thing to consider pre-more: applying for Global Entry- not sure how often you will come stateside but we realized I’ll be going to NYC twice next year and home for Christmas so now I’m working on global entry to make that less hassle. If you think you’ll benefit for it, I’d set it up pre-move since you have to be interviewed in the states.

      Reply
      1. Claire

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll add it to the (seemingly constantly growing) list. I’m not sure how often I will be coming back yet, but I might as well be prepared.

        Reply
  4. Diane

    Yah, can totally relate! I wrote a similar post over the summer and feel the same way. I feel like I got most of these comments within the first year of moving. Now people seem to accept that I’m gone and suckily enough, many “friends” just don’t even bother to keep in touch. Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Lauren (Post author)

      The questions definitely die down a bit…unfortunately now with all the travel alerts and overall fear I feel there is a whole new list of annoying questions to be answered again and again…

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *