Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Don’t You Just Go Home?

Toni HargisNo one likes a whiny expat. There are books upon books written for expats relocating to yet another new country, and one of the most common themes is “Don’t criticize”. Australians even coined the term “Whinging Poms”* for the legions of Brits who’d go out there and then complain about everything from the heat to the spiders. Reminds me of an old joke - A Brit had almost saved his fare back to the UK but needed another quid to buy a ticket. He asked an Aussie "Can you give me a quid to get back to the UK?" The Aussie said, "Sure, here's a fiver- take four other whinging Poms back with you."

*Whinging is a word of British origin meaning whining or complaining. The “g” is soft, like a “j”. A Pom is a semi-derogatory name for Brits; the etymology is somewhat vague but this is a great explanation.

It’s not surprising that natives get a bit irritated when they hear non locals putting down their customs, food, language, education system, and so on. How would you like it if someone moved in next door to you and then basically denigrated everything you did, said or ate? I’m wondering though, at what point the criticism becomes acceptable? When it is appropriate for an expat to voice a criticism of his of her host country? How long do you have to have lived there, and under what circumstances?

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