What NOT to Say to an Expat

I’ve been gone for a while, and I know you don’t fully understand the ways that I’ve changed. So, to every expat-friend-and-family-member-ever:

Here’s what not to say to an expat.

Before moving abroad

Will-Work-For-Travel1. You’re going to Korea? No way! My cousin’s friend’s uncle’s niece is also teaching there. What a small world.

Yes, everyone knows someone who is in Korea, or who has been here,or who will move here. It’s just the way it is.

2. I’ll come visit you

Right. And unicorns exist. Say it when you mean it. We’ll be really disappointed if you don’t.

3. You’ll become so rich.

I’m flying to another country, and I’m working 5 days a week. Just as you are. I still have to eat and sleep and pay the bills.

 4. You’re so lucky!

What’s stopping you from joining me?!

During your stay

1. When are you coming home?

One day. Maybe. For now, I consider this home. When are you moving here?

2. When will you get a real job?

I go to work every morning, I work an 8-9 hour day, I leave when it’s done, and I get paid for it. What would you consider as a real job?


Mmmm… Comfort Foods.

3. You must really miss (insert food)?

And you just had to remind me.

4. Do you know (insert name) from (insert country) ? He is also there.

Yes, we are a group of 10 foreigners in the whole country, and there are big flashing arrows over our apartments so we can conveniently find each other.

5. Your life must be one big adventure.

I have a job. I have bills to pay. I miss out on Christmas at home. I would have liked proper Mexican food. Yes, I chose this, but it is what I make of it.

After moving back home


… silence….

1. You’ve changed… (awkward stare)

Is that a bad thing? It happened over time. My world got bigger, and I’ve been challenged in ways I never would have at home.

2. How was the trip?

Such a hard question. It wasn’t really a “trip”… you won’t really get it…

3. So, did you eat insects and stuff?

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Which explains my trimmed physique. Naturally.

4. How would you say (insert foreign word) in (insert language)

Yes. I’m fluent. So glad you brought that up.


So please, friends and family. Be patient with us. Support us. Give us time to rediscover how to do life in the West. And above all, remember to start preparing for when you return home from living abroad.

Any extras you can think of? Let us know below!

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7 replies
  1. Alice
    Alice says:

    “I’ll come visit you!” that is my worst one especially when I have a few friends in the same country as me! Definitely nailed this article! :)

  2. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    My favourite: OMG, I just saw on the news (insert crime/disaster) in a city in the country where you live! Are you scared?
    Answer: No, not at all. Stuff like that happens in every city in every country in the world. Why would I be scared?

    Another question: “How is the food (or whatever) in Taiwan?”
    Answer: “I wouldn’t know. I’m in Thailand. I know, first syllable sounds the same, easy to get them confused.” (especially if you don’t have a passport)


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