Over a group dinner the other night, the conversation turned to immigration and the different terminology used for those living abroad. An interesting point was brought up.
Here in Costa Rica a huge number of people from elsewhere on the planet reside, some legally, some illegally. The term that most use to describe themselves is “ex-pat”. Which is funny really, because it’s just a fancy-schmancy way of saying immigrant.
You never hear news reporters call the immigrants living in the U.S. “ex-pats”. Ever. They are always immigrants. Illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants. Why do North Americans or Europeans, many living outside their country illegally, not refer to themselves as immigrants? It just doesn’t sound as sexy, carefree or exciting does it?
I thought about this. I’ve never labeled myself one way or the other, never really thought about to be honest. But I always get (well-meaning) people in the shop asking “Sooooooo, you’re an ex-pat?” But truth be told, after some consideration, I’m definitely much more of an immigrant. I came here with a dream to make a happy place for myself and very little else and all the pieces fell into place purely by luck and a whole bunch of guardian angels. I’ve decided next time someone asks me if I’m an ex-pat, I’ll kindly correct them, “No, actually I’m a legal immigrant” and then wait for the puzzled reaction. Ha.
P.S. If you consider yourself an ex-pat that’s totally o.k. We can still be friends 🙂