Monday, June 15, 2009

The excitement of expat life (really? where?)

A little while ago an American expat living in Moscow made news with a novel called ‘EXPAT’.

This got attention because

· It was raunchy
· Her publicity site for it included photos of herself in scanty underclothes
· Her name is Deidre Dare
· Perhaps most of all, she is (or was at the time) a senior lawyer for a major British law firm.

The novel and her poetry appeared to suggest that the life of an expat in Moscow consists largely of drink, parties and sexual excesses.

I’ve never lived in Moscow so I can’t speak from personal experience – maybe it is like that there. The key point about her exploits (of the literary and publicity kind) is that it fuels the stereotypical view of the average expat. I’ve commented on this before – that widely held view that all expats everywhere spend all their time by the pool, drinking themselves senseless and engaging in various forms of what I’ll politely term ‘frolics’.

The reality of course is not like that for the vast majority. If you’re considering the expat life, maybe you’re now thinking “oh that’s a pity”! Perhaps so, but in my own humble way I’ve decided to set the record strait and put a few words of my life experience diary down.

Day 1.

Got up. Raining. Went to work. Got hung up due to delays on the trams. Received a phone call at night from someone trying to sell me cheap car insurance.

Day 2.

Lights fused. Repaired quickly. Can’t find my favourite pencil.

Day 3.

Wrote my blog for Expat Focus. Got a phone call in the evening – wrong number. Watched some TV.

OK, a fairly hefty exaggeration for laughs but I hope making the point that while every day as an expat can bring something new and rewarding relating to living overseas, a life of non-stop excitement it isn’t.

Now having made that great and no doubt noble point, I’m starting to wonder if it IS such a life for everyone else and it’s only me that isn’t part of it? Do comment and let me have your opinion. !


Miss Footloose said...

This is my humble opinion as a long-time expat in several foreign countries:

Your life is what you make it. This goes for (non)adventurous expats as well as for those who stay rooted at home. You make the decision to drink and party, not your (expat) location. Of course certain environments make particular life styles easier than others, but you decide to participate or not.

Expat life can be as boring as living anywhere in your own home country, or you can make it an adventure and learn about a foreign country and see the humor of your experiences, or, if you are so inclined, make an orgy out of it.

Enough said.

Miss Footloose

Leigh said...

Ok, so you definitely got a laugh out of me on this one. Quite a few, actually, as I sit here in my pajamas reading blogs and tending to a sick child.

Truth is, I find every day is an adventure as an expat, particularly a new one like me. I'm still learning the language, how to get to the doctor where to buy needles, thread, party supplies. Lila wants a princess castle on her cake for the party we're having for her this coming Thursday.

Ok, so it's not lion taming (or drunken sex parties in Moscow), but sometimes it feels like it. That's one of the major reasons we decided to settle outside the US in the first place.

Miss Footloose said...

Leigh, I understand what you said about the reasons you settled outside the US. Living in a foreign country and engaging in your new environment can be very stimulating, broadens your mind and increases your capacity for thinking out of the box. You have to learn new things, figure out what works and what doesn't work, and deal with issues and situations you never would encounter at home. Sure, there are frustrations and problems, but as they say, they build character.

I read about a study recently that concluded that expatriate people are generally more creative than their stay-at-home peers. They had to do a STUDY on that? Please!

Have fun,

Miss Footloose

Miss Footloose said...

One more thing ... after mentioning in my comments that expat life is what you make it, and that it is not necessarily a drunken orgy, that as expats we need to have a sense of humor etc., etc., I might have said something about losing your grip at times. About just having had enough of dealing with the frustrations and wishing you were back shopping at Walmart. We all have these days too. And since this seems like an appropriate place to mention it, even if it sounds like shameless self-promotion, I have a story on my blog this week that deals exactly with this issue. It's called EXPAT LOSES SENSE OF HUMOR and you can find it here:

I hope it tickles your sense of humor!