What is an expatriate?
- Really useful expat info and resources -
You are looking for a "What is an expatriate or expat?" - definition, here you will find my answer.
Definiton of the "global nomad" or what is an expatriate?
An expatriate or expat is somebody who moves temporarily to another country. The word expatriate comes from the latin "ex" meaning "out of" or "outside" and "patria" meaning "home country".
In common definitions expatriates are described as persons who reside in the new country for a couple of years often on expat work assignments and do not plan to live in that country permanently. Immigrants however move overseas to stay in the new country permanently and leave their home country due to unrest, lack of perspectives and seeking a better life somewhere else.
Therefore the term "expat" mainly is used in reference to Westerners living in non-Western countries or like in our case residents of mainly first-world countries in Europe, America, Asia who move abroad to live in South Africa for a certain period of time, mainly as support to their companies and to the South African economy.
However in the recent news about xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the African nationals which were actually legal or illegal immigrants were described as expats. Very loosely the term is also used for people residing in another country than in the one where they hold citizenship.
Do you want to know more about a specific nationality group please refer to my guide on the different expat communities in Cape Town in my pages on
expat clubs and communities.
International Companies often send their experienced and specialized staff to a new area of business in a new country. The partners, wifes or husbands of the expatriate employees are often involved in the decision making process. Often the companies offer assistance and benefits for the spouse and children of the expat but very rarely offer compensation for the loss of income of the expatriate partners.
Expatriates often move more than once to a new country as some companies prefer the send well trusted and experienced employees as support to different countries assignments as they often get quite experienced in the life of a modern nomad.
This has a special impact also on expat kids. The children of expatriates often can not readily determine where home is for them, as they sometimes travel with their parents from one country to the next, just wherever the next assignment will take their parents. These children encounter different problems as their peers who never had to go through an acculturation process. But there are also big advantages in any move abroad for the children. They grow up to be more flexible and confident living with different cultures and getting independent earlier in life.
To help ease the acculturation process expatriates often form their own communities and clubs in the new country to keep a link to the home country and to overcome the usual culture shock experiences.
I hope you found my explanation to the question: "What is an expatriate?" useful.
Please contact me if you need more information on expat life and living as an expatriate in Cape Town. I will gladly try to help and answer honestly... :-)
Are you interested in reading about my culture shock experiences? Then please read on here.
Do you want to have more information on: What is culture shock? Read more here...
Please come back to this section as I am still collecting more useful information on Expat resources for South Africa
Good resources from well known experts about expat experiences and culture shock as well as cultural cues and customs are to be found
in detailed descriptions here.