You don’t have to – but you should.
I agree with Ben. If everyone lived like an expat, we’d probably all have more friends.
I’ve lived in two expat communities; each for a year – one in Seoul, one in Saudi Arabia – and it leaves you wondering why everyone isn’t like this.
Expats tend to be sort of self-proclaimed loons who do things like obtain degrees from Harvard, only to promptly quit the white collar consulting job for which said degree qualifies them…so they can go teach SCUBA lessons in Thailand. Which of course makes the parents really proud.
Expats are “yes” people. This means that when we get invited to go dune hopping in the Empty Quarter, or guzzle unpasteurized camel’s milk with the not uncertain warning that the experience will make us vomit…gratuitously – we just do it. It’s the shoot first, ask questions later mentality. Yes before No. Always. Because if there’s one thing expats don’t want, it’s to hear someone else telling a near-death Homeric epic of badassery that could’ve been theirs.
Expats are friendly, almost to a fault. “Stranger” is not in the vernacular. Weirdos don’t exist. If we’re having a party at the compound, you’re invited. Don’t speak our language? Right on! Even more fun. Drink up. The pool’s open. Need a swimsuit? Gotcha covered. Eh, screw it – the Spaniard just jumped in with his shoes on. Go for it.
Expats care about where you’re from, deeply, because they’re never too tired for a story swap about the old homeland. But they’re more interested in where you’re going – because the next adventure could always use another mate.
Expats are bound by a deep, abiding, almost unspoken bond. We see the world through lenses shaded not by “What do I own?” but, “What did I do?” To most of normality, this is crazy. But expats will take the safari over the Ferrari, any day. Expats see each other as brothers and sisters and soul mates in the same struggle. We sit around campfires and complain about how bad the local beer is, and wax nostalgic about the homeland. And this makes it infinitely interesting. Expats are storytellers – the best ever. And everyone has a story, and every story’s interesting; because every story’s about a place you’ve never been – or maybe you have – in which case the common love only runs deeper.
Expats need no introduction. Their table is open, and you’re invited. State your name, your drink, your country, and tell us where you got that awesome tattoo. Now sit on down, we were just ripping on the locals. Idiots. Have a story?! Hey, tomorrow we’re road tripping down the coast. You in?
Title Photo Credit flickr