Aug 17, 2006, 9:37 AM
Post #12 of 51
Hmm, my experiences as both a - multiple - expat and an even more multiple part timer (job assignments of several months to a year) may not be relevant, since I am neither an American expat not an expat in Mexico yet (though I'll start my tenure early next month - don't know yet how long but judging from my track record of getting bored with a place... heavens know), but may be there are some common denominators in that expat and brick wall (?) thing.
Re: [jennifer rose] The Brick Wall and Expats
Can't Post | Private Reply
My few first "expat" experiences were that of a temporarily relocated abroad worker: to Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and the then USRR. They were fun places to live short term because they were all exotic and the biggest hardship I ever encountered ( as I remember it now) was of being occassionally hungry in Germany when I missed their restaurant's lunchtime opening hours. Most " ground services " ( as we call it in Sweden) were arranged for me. No brick walls, no problems with language or culture or socializing with the natives.
I moved to Sweden as a de facto political refugee ( a defector, who did not claim refugee status, though that would have made things a lot easier, because I was afraid, that if I did, my communist homeland would retaliate and not let my little daughter join me in Sweden) with very limited funds ($200 in 1974), no knowledge of Swedish and only a vague ideas (from books, articles, censored and often biased) of what the country was and what living in there would be. I had to arrange everything from scratch on a shoestring budget and worrying about a child left behind and if I ever would be able to see her again. Getting in touch with an expat group would have been the most natural thing in the world but somehow it never occured to me. So I found my ways around a labirynth of obstacles, with an assistance of strangers ... though the most indebted for help I was to a Scotish family (expats, themselves) who took me on to their fabulous villa by the sea in a posh Stockholm suburb, housed me and fed me and paid me quite well under the pretext of me looking after their three boys ( ages 7,9 and 11) while they worked. Fortunately at that time I did not see it as a pretext, because I would have been too proud to accept "charity" and my life would have been much more difficult. With them I got introduced to the British Social Club - they were part owners of, so they frequented the premises very often and to the concept of how useful it is to rub shoulders with other expats. Later, I joined Polish expat groups and I really disliked them. I had to work politically in them (it was the Polish anticommunist movement's "Solidarity" time), but I found organizations as such boggled in endless turf wars and political infightings, though I am glad I met many very nice people there, whom I otherwise probably would not (different ages or professional or social circles).
When after 8 years in Sweden I emigrated from Sweden to the USA I was already feeling Swedish to some extent ( this 5 year barrier?) and together with my late Swedish hubby joined Swedish expat groups in addition to Polish expat groups. Sure we spent most of our time - both professionally and socially - with fellow Americans, that is the natives of the land (and here, probably lies the biggest difference between my expat experiences and that of predominantly retired Americans in Mexico), but we enjoyed cultural activities of those expat groups.
Swedes are master organizers and their groups are very well organized formally and run smoothly and many times as a part time business expat (be that in Italy, Germany, Singapore, Japan) I enjoyed an easy introduction to the other members of SWEA (with a world wide network, sadly Latin America being the only blank space... they have chapters in the Middle East, but none in the entire Latin America, hmmm), Swedish Women Educational Association, and still remember fondly panning for gold in Georgia, tasting wine in California, snowshoeing in Colorado, etc. etc as part of their activities.... and of course all those still friends in all those places.
Finally, as a newly minted early retiree I moved to Spain - to a portion of Spain where expats number around 25% of the population, so the expat life was an easy and a natural one. With all those social and interests clubs, some based on nationality/language, others purely on interests. Oh, my, it was so fun to be with other expats (Americans, Scandinavian, German) and they so dominated the social scene - even the streets in those small towns - it made meeting native locals difficult and I did not make an efford. I left Spain because at that time I yearned to go somewhere else, to see more and to do more, I missed work, and for a person my age it was the easiest to find an interesting pt job in the USA.
How will I like Mexico? Will I mix with the locals much? I don't know. I am used to socializing with highly educated people. I realize - after disussing with DoDi - that I really do not know how to relate to a fisherman or a villager, no matter if he/she is from my own country or anywhere else in the world, and in villages - other than those heavily expat "infested" ;-) people with university degrees are uncommon. So, it might be something new. And I'll let you know.
Vivere non est necesse, navigare necesse est!
(This post was edited by MariaLund on Aug 17, 2006, 10:41 AM)