Announcing plans to expatriate can elicit a variety of responses. Perhaps the most popular are “You’re moving where?” and “What?” Also popular are “For how long?” and “That’s fantastic.” Occasionally, however, plans to expatriate might inspire these two remarks:
- You’re so lucky.
- I hate you/I’m jealous.
I’m not particularly fond of these two responses and I’ll tell you why.
You’re so lucky – Luck is when you hurtle down a 4-story flight of stairs and escape without a scratch. It’s when you dig through a public toilet tank and come up with a fistful of 100 dollar bills and chocolate chip cookies. Saving up for, say, school tuition over a period of 2 years, putting together a portfolio, coordinating graduate school applications between 3 countries, and being accepted to a master’s program based on the strength of said portfolio is not luck; that’s hard work. A move abroad doesn’t usually fall into someone’s lap. An expatriate makes a decision, sticks to it, and puts their plan into action.
I hate you/I’m jealous – I understand that in our culture it’s considered exciting to be envied by your peers so “I hate you/I’m jealous” is probably meant to be a compliment. But why hate? And jealous of what, exactly? That someone has made the hard decision to leave home for an extended period of time? That someone says “yes,” instead of “no” when it comes to taking chances? “I hate you/I’m jealous” probably means jealous that someone is going to live in a beautiful country. Well, it’s not exactly a closed community. It takes hard work to prepare and a little bravery to make the decision but living abroad is hardly impossible, and certainly not worth “hating” someone over.
I’ll tell you what’s worth hating, though – those of you who’ll be eating Stove Top stuffing on the fourth Thursday of November while I’m being mocked by my classmates for wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m already jealous. And turkey? I hate you.