Expatriate? I Hate You.


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.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Lara says:

    I tried to make my own stuffing the year that I was in Hiroshima; it was soggy and tasted of egg 😦

  2. ieatmypigeon says:

    My friend gave me a fantastic stuffing recipe last year; it was super simple to make, delicious, and totally saved Japanese thanksgiving for me! I’ll pass it on to you this November; you will be amazed!

  3. Lara says:

    That’d be excellent!

  4. amira says:

    yes, yes…the lucky/hate/jealousy bit. and i wonder about everyone who says, “i want to do that” again and again and never does. i want to read some of said portfolio. stories? novel excerpts? essays? intrigued…

  5. The Envoy says:

    I feel like giving you a hug….But then again, I am jealous.

  6. Cordelia says:

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog because I was looking for something Japan-related (don’t even remember what it was…) and I couldn’t stop reading! Your writing is beautiful, I am amazed at how you are able to describe things and situations in such a captivating way! Really, reading your blog makes me want to go abroad again.

    I am from Germany and have spent a year in Japan and I *so* know what you mean. People always say “oh, you’re so lucky” even if the decision to go abroad has nothing to do with luck. Some say “oh, well, but I could never do something like that because… (I have a good job here/ my boyfriend would not let me go/ etc)”. So I am lucky because I *don’t* have a good job? Come on…

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