Saturday, July 31, 2010

Expat frustrations

This post from It Be Liz got my head spinning. No one wants people to think that we ('we' being expats) don't appreciate the opportunity to live in another country. We get that it's a big deal and that many people would LOVE to be in our shoes.

The frustration comes when you feel like you have to lie about your experience to non-expats. If you tell people the truth it seems that you've disappointed them and you come off sounding unappreciative. It's not really fair to expect someone to be sunshine and butterflies all the time, no matter where in the world they're living. The worst thing someone can say is, 'Well, I took a 2 week vacation there in 2002 and it was such a wonderful experience! The scenery! The pubs! The people! The proximity to Europe! I can't believe you're not enjoying it!'

There is a BIG difference between being on vacation and actually living your life.

Yes, the scenery is absolutely stunning, but I'm not Maria von Trapp and I can't just spend my days spinning around in the Wicklow Mountains. Oh wait, actually I COULD because the job market is so bad here that I haven't been able to find a job in a year and a half. I have lots and lots of free time! 

The pubs are really great here, no doubt. Unfortunately we don't go too often because if we did, we would be broke. On average you'll spend 5 euro on a pint and with two people drinking that adds up. Last weekend we were in a city centre pub and there was a British family at the next table giving out on the cost of the drink. And I used to think a pint in the UK was ridiculously priced!

The people. Okay, you can't fault the Irish. They are probably the friendliest people on the planet. *Spot the inside joke!

Yes, we live within an easy traveling distance to some truly fantastic destinations, but only having one income (which had to take a pay cut due to the failing economy) can put a crimp in your jet-setting lifestyle! We have been VERY fortunate to get to travel as much as we have and a lot of that is due to having friends in awesome places.

I guess the point of this post is to remind people that for most of us, life isn't one big vacation. Just because we live in a different country doesn't make us exempt from having the same stresses as everyone else. We DO appreciate the beauty, the pubs, the people, and the opportunity, but sometimes it's hard and things can get under your skin. Cut us some slack. Until the tourist boards put us on their payroll you're going to be stuck with the honest truth!


  1. Kim I could not have written this any better!!! xx

  2. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Especially on the living in awesome places that you don't actually get to see a lot of because you're broke.

    The flip side is that if you do go back (which I know you are planning on), you become more appreciative of home and likely make the effort to get out more. I mean, how many people do you know who live in or near DC but who never *do* anything there!

  3. I just went to my 20 year HS reunion back in the US, and people seemed so impressed when I said I lived in Ireland. Then, the next question was always, "What's it like?" That's when I had to either come up with a fudgey answer or come clean and tell them that I haven't been able to find work, I'm on social welfare, I can barely pay my bills, let alone travel Europe, and at times all I can think about is the wonderful day when I can move back to the US again. Of course, most days I enjoy it here and appreciate the experiences I'm having, but being unemployed and broke ALL. THE. TIME wears you down.

    Of course I know another US ex-pat who lives here in Dublin, and he and his wife both have jobs and are having a grand old time. They travel constantly and live in a nice place, and I think they are in the process of getting drivers licenses and a car. I'm sure their answers to questions about living here are much, much different than ours!

  4. balmerhon:

    ***Raises Hand**** I'm a DC-area native who barely ever does anything in the city, touristy or otherwise AND I'm a repatriated (???) expat (soon to be expat again)!


    You said it so beautifully. Life is life no matter where you live. And when where you live is not "home", it can often be even more challenging at times. More amazing too but it doesn't negate that sometimes it is just downright tough shit!

    I have learned in all my times back and forth between the US and wherver my wanderlust takes me that only others who have done this really truly get it. I don't romantisize (so not spelled right but it's late and I don't care!) things for those who don't but I don't burst their bubble either. If they are so curious, they can try it themselves!