Author Topic: Expat or Immigrant?  (Read 1131 times)

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Offline jonnie

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Expat or Immigrant?
« on: February 05, 2017, 01:22:25 PM »
Hi

Just a thought for the day that I would like more people to consider.

When should we say Expat and when should we say immigrant and are caucasians from the UK US AU CA countries more likely to call someone with a darker skin an immigrant and someone considered a transatlantic cousin ( if you like transpacific ) an ex pat?

I am not just raising the definition of these words into question but more generally subtle predujice is at play here.

I used to live in France - I met Brits living there who described themselves as expats ( despite the fact that when I talked to them in French they admitted they did not speak a word of French ) who then proceeded to moan about the number of immigrants in the part of the UK they had left - seemed a bit double valued to me, I was waiting for them to also moan about immigrants in the UK who did not speak English but I was denied the pleasure of pouncing on them and reminding them that they did not speak French, I did however suggest to them in a roundabout way that they were now immigrants as far as the native French people were concerned and I could see from their faces that they really did not like me saying this.

Do people use these words fairly?

Are Americans living in the UK actually immigrants and do they feel comfortable using this word to describe themselves?

Should we abandon the word "expat" - is it outdated and potentially rather bigotted, not so much in itself but more in the way it is so selectively used - is it a term used by English speakers around the world who feel that they have some common links by language and perhaps lineage or is it really a way of saying "white middle class etc" - in a bigots mind "the right type of immigrant"?

I am absolutely certain that the bigotted English couple I met in France considered themselves the "right kind" of immigrant although having perhaps a little more knowledge than them of the attitude of French people to non-French speakers living in France I am not sure that this would be universally agreed with.

Should we talk of recent new comers from Asian countries, perhaps with jobs and businesses to run as expats - I always seem to hear the word immigrant in these situations - should we be more consistent?

Please no arguments I am trying to get people to think about this one.

Perhaps those of a fair and unbigotted nature might start to describe themselves as immigrants to stand in solidarity - try it on for size - how comfortable does it feel to be called or designated an immigrant rather than an expat?



Offline sonofasailor

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 01:54:43 PM »
Perhaps those of a fair and unbigotted nature might start to describe themselves as immigrants to stand in solidarity

Yes!!

It is interesting reading about the British concept of expat. Often during colonial times there would be an area carved out for the British...with different rules and laws. Hong Kong, Shanghai.
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across - Sun Tzu

Offline lorenausuk

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 01:58:44 PM »
To be perfectly honest, the word "expat" is a relatively new word to me. The first time I heard it was in 2007. My husband and I went to a British pub when we lived in Atlanta and the bartender heard his accent and asked him if he was with the "British expats" that were congregated in the beer garden out back. At that point, I had gone 37 years without ever hearing the term.

My father was an immigrant to the US from Mexico and called himself that until he became a USC in 1992. When I moved to the UK in 1995-2004, I was an American "immigrant". My husband always reminds me when I scold him for something that I am "picking on an immigrant" I live in a city that has no majority (Houston) and I've yet to hear anyone call themselves an "expat" as they call themselves either simply "immigrant" or "foreign born".

To me, an "expat" is someone who is in the country for a relatively short time (we have a lot of them in Houston) and aren't trying to live permanently in the country. I know an Italian woman who calls herself an "expat" because she's only here for seven years. Her "expat" group of people from all over who are only here a definitive amount of time calls themselves "expats" because to them, "immigrants" are here for the long-haul/ indefinitely.


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Online KFdancer

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 02:13:36 PM »
They mean the same thing.  People use them however they are comfortable.  Not something to get our panties in a wad over.  Just like Coke and Pop.   ;D

Offline sonofasailor

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 02:20:14 PM »
They mean the same thing.  People use them however they are comfortable.  Not something to get our panties in a wad over.  Just like Coke and Pop.   ;D

Well it is interesting, in for instance, the current discussion on EU migration. The British in Spain are sometimes held in a different light than say Eastern European migrants to the UK.
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Online KFdancer

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 02:27:55 PM »
Completely agree.  People use expat like it's a good thing and immigrant like it's a bad thing.  But the definitions are the same.

I use immigrant.  Proud of it.   ;D

Offline jimbocz

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 11:15:03 AM »
You are preaching to the converted.  The feeling that I get from this forum is that everyone knows that we are no different than the immigrants currently being vilified in the press, just richer and whiter in most cases.

Thanks for the lecture though.

Offline martiabernathey

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2017, 06:58:54 PM »
If I'm speaking to a British person I'll always id as an immigrant. If I'm speaking to an American I'll say I'm an expat

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Offline margo

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2017, 12:25:54 AM »
You are preaching to the converted.  The feeling that I get from this forum is that everyone knows that we are no different than the immigrants currently being vilified in the press, just richer and whiter in most cases.

Yep. When I express concern over the anti-immigrant attitudes, I've repeatedly been told "But they aren't talking about you". I hate that. We are all the same, just trying to continue a life somewhere safe and with loved ones. Some have just come from a much more challenging place and therefore don't have the same education and may need more help to get ahead, but it won't be for lack of trying. And I think it's apparent from the jobs threads here that they are talking about us, when they won't treat qualifications and experience outside of the country as close to equivalent.

Offline Cmoh

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2017, 07:44:18 AM »
I am an American living in the UK.

Online physicskate

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 01:09:41 PM »
Bloody immigrants. Stealing our women and taking our jobs!!

I'm an immigrant... I've always 'made my own way' here. Never had a fancy relocation package or owt like that! Never thought I had better (nor deserved better) than a local... in fact often had it worse! Not a complaint, just an observation...

It's just a state of mind.
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Offline durhamlad

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2017, 03:29:40 PM »
I've never used the term ex-pat.  When we moved to the USA in 1987 we encountered the word "alien" and "legal alien" for the first time and those are the terms we used back then, reinforced no doubt by the 1987 release of Sting's  song "Alien in New York". We were on work visas and when we got our Green Cards a few years later they were marked with the words "Permanent Resident" and we then referred to ourselves as immigrants even after we became US Citizens.  We were definitely proud to identify ourselves as immigrants as it took a little courage and a lot of hard work to move a family of four to the USA and achieve citizenship.
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Offline omglolmax

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2017, 06:53:31 PM »
Completely agree.  People use expat like it's a good thing and immigrant like it's a bad thing.  But the definitions are the same.

I use immigrant.  Proud of it.   ;D

I agree. I also hate the term "migrant" I feel like it's even a step lower than immigrant.

I always refer to myself as a migrant and all other "migrants" as expats. It usually ends in confusion, but it's entertaining to me.

Offline theOAP

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2017, 12:30:58 PM »
In the US, I had a good job. Unfortunately it was in an industry that suffered from the feast-famine-feast-famine syndrome (national economic cycles). During a feast period I was one of the gainfully employed, but during one such famine period, I found myself one who was temporarily unemployed.

After turning in the company car and trying to figure out how to attach a Kroger’s shopping cart to a bicycle, I realised that I could now also be defined as being on the top rung of vagrancy. I didn’t care to become a vagrant, but vagrants are often migratory. I had migrated within the US, but I then received a sirens call from Europe to find out what migration really meant. For US purposes I became an émigré. For European purposes I became an immigrant.

(Cue M&S commercial’s Muzak background music)
“ I wasn’t just an immigrant, I was an economic immigrant.”

In time, I married a siren in the UK, settled in the UK. I attempted to culturally assimilate. I became a diverse member of British society (a USC), eventually becoming a UK citizen. I now have everything in position to become (by US definitions) an expatriate.

After my journey of gainful employment, temporarily unemployed, better off vagrant, migrant, émigré, immigrant, gainfully employed, assimilated, diverse member, retiree, citizen, and possibly expatriate, I now consider myself to be me.

But I’m not just an ordinary me, I’m a me with a rich blend of experience from the four corners of….(Kill the M&S commercial’s background music!).

As are all of us who now live abroad. No more labels, please.

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Online x0Kiss0fDeath

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Re: Expat or Immigrant?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 10:33:03 AM »
If I'm speaking to a British person I'll always id as an immigrant. If I'm speaking to an American I'll say I'm an expat

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I guess I'm accidentally the same! Thinking about it now (as I am not consciously doing it at the time). When I speak to other American's or transplants to the UK (not country specific really) I will usually say expat. If I'm speaking to other Brits or discussing my situation in political discussions (which I try to avoid at all costs), I refer to myself as an immigrant.