One of the things that I like least of all about being an expat is the assumption – from other expats – that we are all the same. That our motivations, dreams, goals and hatreds all stem from the same place, and that we’ve all landed up somewhere else for the same reason.
I’m telling you now guys, it ain’t so.
We moved to Hong Kong for any number of different reasons, and I’m not going to list them all now as I’m sure they have plenty in common with other peoples’ lists; perhaps just with different weighting attached.
I can tell you categorically, that none of those reasons was the current state of UK immigration.
This old chestnut gets wheeled out with alarming frequency by expats here in HK; the theory that Britain is apparently ‘overrun’ with immigrants, that you won’t hear English spoken on the streets of London any more, that Eastern Europeans are taking all our jobs and leaving indigenous Brits out on their ear. IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY! (Shouty caps emphasis to indicate the conversation you can expect from pint four or five onwards).
And all spoken by expats here without the faintest shred of irony.
Because when I say ‘expat’, I obviously mean overseas worker. Or immigrant. Yes, I’m talking about you and me, matey – we’re immigrants!
And you can splutter into your $80 Guinness all you like and tell me it’s not the same as some poor Bangladeshi dude coming to drive minicabs in Leyton to make a better life for himself and his family, and I’m a ridiculous Guardian-reading bleeding heart liberal who doesn’t understand the wider political implications.
But it is the same. That guy, you and me; we’re all immigrants in order to hopefully forge a decent career and a good living for ourselves and our families by working in a foreign country. The only difference is the figures hitting our bank accounts each month. That, and the terminology.
So how about we just call it like it is and forget all this ‘expat’ nonsense?
Fellow immigrants – regardless of your income bracket – lets shoot for a bit of empathy for those who have made the same choices as we have.
So perhaps I’m wrong. Seems our motivation is pretty similar after all.