Your 'Ed' Is an Expatriate

photo: cafe le camelia

Night descends, the cafés on the quays light up.

Not 'Ex-Pat' - Warum und Wieso

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 29. November 1999:- An email during the week caused me to think of the definition of 'expatriate.' A lot of people use this term loosely; usually to mean anybody who resides outside their country of origin. These are commonly called 'ex-pats.'

However, the vast majority of people who do reside in countries other than where they have their main address, are migrant workers and their families - and have no intention of settling permanently in countries where they are temporarily posted.

Although the dictionary allows migrant workers to call themselves 'ex-pats,' it has two other majorphoto: metro exit, arc de triomphe definitions. True 'expatriates' do it to themselves and usually for personal reasons. Migrant workers go where they agree to be sent for professional reasons and usually for a fixed length of time.

The first view of the Arc de Triomphe for many visitors.

'Migrant workers' is not a derogatory term but the common use of 'ex-pat' as a synonym does have a derogatory air to it. It sometimes refers to people who don't bother to try to 'fit in' to the life of their temporary residence, usually because they are on a transitory but fixed-length term.

True expatriates are totally different fish. The first thing you should know about them is that there are not as many in France as you would think.

The greatest number of expatriates in France are probably Algerians and other North Africans, mainly from Tunisia and Morocco.

The big number of Americans who used to reside in Paris left it in the fall of 1929. The large number of US troops in France after the war were not expatriates, but a form of 'migrant workers.' They didn't come to stay and went home as soon as they could.

The US State Department claims that 75,000 American citizens reside in the Paris area. The vast majority of these are migrant workers and their families - with, andphoto: hot dog, champs elysees gardens this is my 'wild' guess - no more than five percent of them being expatriates. This could be about 3700.

Parisian version of fast-food take-out kiosk.

How have I arrived at my 'guess?' If I do not go to embassy functions, do not work for a US-based firm, do not belong any US educational or scientific or social organization or work for any other international organization - if I do not shop for groceries imported from the US, do not eat at places claiming to be American, do not hang out in bookstores with a lot of imported titles - if I do none of these; I am not going to run into many Americans who are 'migrant workers' - who may number 71,300 in all.

However, since moving into Paris from the suburbs in July, I have met some expatriates; not all of whom are Americans.

The grand total, all nationalities combined, is about ten. Five of these, I knew before I moved into Paris.

One reason for this is that expatriates, by their very nature, do not belong to the same clubs - unless you can call Paris a club.

Now I know that 'migrant workers' may not want to be known as 'migrant workers' even if it is the closest definition to what they are.

On the other hand I do not want to known as an 'ex-pat' because I am not a 'migrant worker.' I am a bona-fide expatriate.

I do not know how this came about or why. Thephoto: bull's head, r hospitalieres st gervais last time I came to Europe, just over 30 years ago, I came one-way because it was cheaper than a round-trip ticket.

Although I definitely intended to stay for an undefned length of time, I didn't think very much one way or the other about 'how long' I would be staying. Not having a round-trip ticket means nothing because it is the easiest thing in the world to get a one-way ticket back.


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