Sunday, 30 January 2011

Musing on being an expat

It happens to me sometimes, I think about my statue as an expat. I think about it more these days as I have a few new readers (and one new follower) who are also Quebeckers living in another country.

Being an expat is now part of my identity: I am not merely a Quebecker, I am a Quebecker living abroad, I have this particular experience, perspective on life that is different than the ones of most of my compatriots. I lived here before, but that was supposed to be temporary. It is only since 2006 that I really became aware that I might live the rest of my adult life in a foreign country. Of course, you never know what the future may hold and I might one day go back home, or even live somewhere else, but for now I am here. It is an important part of what I became, it is also one of the reasons why I started this blog: because I thought my particular experience as a foreigner (I am still desperately foreign here) and an expat was of some interest. I still think it is. 

Being an expat means that I miss a lot of things, trivial and not so trivial, that my compatriots take for granted: certain seasonal changes, food (well of course), places, etc. More importantly, I miss sharing these things: as I am the only Quebecker I know in the area (I have met some but don't know where they are), I have nobody but myself to understand all these cultural references. On the other hand, being an expat made me more foreign towards my own countrymen: I do not have the same experience than they now do and see the collective events they live from a distance. A TV series or a movie is released, I do not see it. If a natural catastrophe happens, I do not witness it (not that I wish to be in one again). Political scandals and news from Quebec touch me deeply, in spite of the distance and maybe because of it, but I am still away from the action. I also live on a regular basis in a different cultural that influence me, however foreign I still am. Wwhether I like it or not, I would a member of the Quebec diaspora, if there was such a thing here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your words remind me of Sting's song, ' Englishman in New York'. The opening lyrics read :" I don' take coffee, I take tea my dear" and the chorus refers to him being a 'legal alien'. It doesnt matter where we go in the world, our roots connect us to our homeland no matter where we are, or how long we are away. Our identities are forever tied to the lands that give birth to us. There is something comforting in belonging, but at the same time it can be bittersweet, and this blog reminds me of that.