Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why would you emigrate?

Would you emigrate (would you have emigrated) if you knew the reality of the country you were moving to? I think for those of us who moved from the UK to the US or vice versa, we had a fairly good sense of what we were letting ourselves in for. There are always little things that surprise you though. Despite the similarities in the language, the differences can be disconcerting. Despite knowing about the US from TV shows and books, dealing with it on a day to day basis still resulted in some culture shock. I'm not sure if the shock is worse for those who come from a very different cultural and language background - surely you must expect the US to seem strange if you have moved here from Afghanistan or Somalia, whereas I was truly surprised to find the US seemed 'foreign'.

" I like the idea developed in the Netherlands that if a foreigner wishes to immigrate there, then they have, apart from learning the language, to watch a film showing the life of the country, warts and all, drunks and nudes, hookers, hookahs, pornography, taxes, frost and floods and all. It gives a message to those who would enthusiastically tumble into Europe that it ain't necessarily quite the wonderful place you might think it to be. We have unemployment, we allow people to drink and become drunk, we allow people to express opinions, though we may not necessarily agree, we allow gays to express themselves. The clear message is "Don't like it? Don't come." "If you can't stand it, having come, go.""


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I think it will take more than a film to stop many of the people who emigrate only to wish they'd not made that decision to stay put.
I think some of the trouble is that you never really know how you're going to cope with the change and fit in until you're there, working through it. So many different things come your way when you emmigrate that you could never foresee all of them.

Almost American said...

Agreed Vic - that and there are some people who are refugees rather than emigrants, and their experience is very different - they often have little to no choice as to which country they end up in.

Mmm said...

Hard question. I don't know--I'd like tho thinktha tnow I would say I would have stayed in London, but fact is it was far too expensive and as an art student i would have been very poor with opportunities in the 80's. My life might have been quite different, plus I wouldn't have had my wonderful kids. So, in that sense I'm glad I moved here. There'e jsut so many more opportunities and this land is so much more optimistic than my very 'negative, moody family back 'home!

What about you?

Unknown said...

I think most people find some things different than they expected. But the things they expected to have trouble with are not always the things they really did have trouble with.

I moved to the Middle East and expected to have trouble adjusting to the culture. Instead, I found women are treated extremely well in my country, and the winters with no indoor heat were my biggest unexpected problem!

Expat 21
"Expat Abroad" in the Middle East

Anonymous said...

It's a valid question--and I question my future almost all the time (should I stay or should I go back "home")... my life is richer for having had the experience but it is definitely harder than I thought it would be. I vastly underestimated the cultural differences between the US and the UK. On the one hand, I moved for a job and it was an opportunity that would not have been available to me in the US, so it was definitely a good decision and the right thing to do. I assumed at the time that the move WOULD be permanent and it was only after I got here that I started wondering if I should go back.

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