Expat definition maze

Expat Since Birth – A Life spent "abroad"

I was reading several blogs about expats, Third Culture Kids, Adult Third Culture Kids, Global Nomads and was wondering about the definitions of all these terms. An expat is “a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing”. The “country and culture… of the person’s upbringing” isn’t necessarily the country or culture the parents come from. But in a strict sense, an expatriate is someone who “lives out of the fatherland” (ex-patria). It can be any person living in a different country from where he or she is a citizen from. I’m a german citizen who was born in Switzerland and grew up in Italy. – According to this definition, I am either an expat since birth or since the age of 18, when I left Italy to go to study in Switzerland. Assuming the latter case, what was I before?

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Author: 3rdCultureChildren

Welcome! Here I am, 'releasing' my thoughts on traveling, parenting, raising TCKs, teaching, writing, working... and who knows what else! I’m a WIFE, 'geeky-stuff' SCIENTIST, TEACHER, AMATEUR photographer, MOM of 3, TRAVELER by choice and by marriage, and of course, a HOUSEHOLD QUEEN!!

3 thoughts on “Expat definition maze”

  1. As I commented there:
    You have given me a headache. I need to think of other things like birdies tweeting … but a cuckoo is always a cuckoo even though he hasn’t even GOT a home culture … there I go doing it again!
    What about African settlers who keep various European or Asian lifestyles and customs over generations? What culture would they be?


    1. [From the original Post/Comment:}
      “Hi Colonialist, I didn’t want to cause any headache by posting this! I’m glad you read it anyway.
      I’m happy for the cuckoo that he hasn’t the faculty to think about this. He would probably be very confused. Like I am. I know these are just labels. But as I don’t like labels and was asked several times to label myself, I had to go through this label-maze to find an answer. Did I find it? Not really. Does it matter? Not really…
      About the settlers who keep the lifestyles and customs of their ancestors homecountries over generations are trying to maintain a bond with their origins. What culture they would be? Even if they don’t realise it (or even try to avoid it?), I guess they’re all the cultures they live(d) in.
      – I wrote this post because I was overwhelmed with all these different labels people just kept “throwing” at me, asking me to choose which one was more appropriate for me. I never had the feeling that I have to define myself in one or the other way. I’m pretty happy to be just me. However, I think these labels express the general fear of not fitting in, of not belonging. I’m not worried about not beloning… but this will be another post…”


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