Expat or Immigrant ?
I am an immigrant, I could also be classed as an expat.
Google definition :
Expat – a person who is voluntarily absent from home or country.
Immigrant – a person who leaves one country to settle permanently in another
My husband and I decided seven and a half years ago to leave the UK and move to Spain.
The reason is simply, we wanted a different and in our opinion better way of life for our children.
Is it easy to make a move to another country ? NO !
To become an immigrant and make that decision to permanently live in a foreign country is not easy.
It involves leaving family and friends.
Customs and surrounding you know and in our case learning another language.
When we first arrived we knew one expat couple from the UK. We quickly found ourselves in friendships with other expats, whom we would not have been friends with in the UK.
It wasn’t until we started to speak Spanish (badly at first) and integrate with the local people that we were able to break from those false friendships.
Financially it is difficult too, if you are not of retirement age, you have to create an income in a country were jobs are thin on the ground for locals, let alone foreigners that don’t speak the language. We rented a Spanish bar, when the promise of work that had taken us to a tiny village fell through.
We have been incredibly lucky, we have had very little racism and have made some amazing friends (English and Spanish) who continue to help and support us.
Did you know according to the BBC news I am just one of 5.5 million British citizens that live permanently abroad ?
Yet, I often hear others complaining about the amount of immigrants in the UK.
Do they not see that just because you wear the label of being an expat, it does not stop YOU being an immigrant.
For the 5.5 million of us, what right do we have to complain about people who, like us have chosen to move to another country in search of something better. The majority are just like us, looking for something we consider to be better than we had.
Yes, the UK has a problem, mainly because it is not a large country and housing the 8 million foreign nationals (the guardian) is an issue.
Look at anywhere in the World where there are immigrants and you will find the same nationalities meeting up and forming communities. It is ok for us Brits to do it, but not other nationalities. WHY ?
Did you also know that only 7.7% of immigrants in UK claim benefits (full fact.org -feb 2014) where as at least 30,000 British nationals claim unemployment benefits outside the UK.
I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is for some immigrants to move to the UK, with the frightening World we find ourself living. Some express their fear as racism, for people they do not understand. However immigrants have made that decision and have a choice.
Refugees however have no choice.
Refugee – a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.
These people are treated with suspicion and fear, because of a minority that have abused the system and a small minority that have posed as refugees in order to carry out the most horrific of crimes.
My heart goes out to them and the difficulties they faced when they were forced to leave their homes and the difficulties they face when they apparently should be looking at a time and place of safety.
I have written this blog in the hope that people will start thinking about there attitudes towards other. We all have struggles from time to time and compassion for our fellow human beings, seems like a good idea to me.