Expats leave the country for different reasons: from not being able to stand four more years of Bush to trying to ditch that coke habit, from starting up your own third world sweatshop to just needing some fresh air and a change of perspective, we expats troop around the globe. We bring our culture and, more often, our money to exchange for some local flavor.
But for many of us there is an expiration date printed in a place where we just can’t see it. Sooner or later it comes up: that innocent question that hangs like a noose around the neck of every expat. It’s like asking a college graduate: so what’s the next step? It’s a mean question because most college graduates are facing a time of their life where there are fewer clearly defined steps. A better question would be “Do you have another step planned out?”
Either way, like dogs that sniff each others butts, expats ask eachother this question and then judge eachother by it. Keep in mind that part of the expatness of expats is that they’re not naturalized into the country. If you’re immigrating you’re a local that just doesn’t know the language yet. An expat is still keeping their origin as their defining characteristic. A big part of the definition is that expats are NOT Argentine.* Expats are always foreigners so there’s a weird status to who’s staying longer and each one of us tries to figure out the trajectory of the other almost immediately.
*Actually this is just one definition… the one I’m using right now….