I've never liked that word "ex-pat." It means a person who has left her country to reside in another country either temporarily or permanently. I don't like it because of the "ex" factor and it sounds too much like a person who doesn't love her country anymore. It's used widely in foreign countries. When a bunch of British and American and other westerners get together it's usually said that the "ex-pats" are getting together. When that is said then we know that there will be no locals at the gathering. Other times we say "Hey, I saw another foreigner here today." Foreigner isn't the greatest word either, but that's really what we are here. I don't like being called an ex-pat...that's the bottom line. What can I do about it? Nothing really except blog about it!
I was sitting in a restaurant today with a good friend of mine, Pam. She's from the Isle of Mann (one of the British Isles). She isn't an ELF but is working for Volunteer Services Organization. She's and I meet a lot for tea or dinner and a chat. Tonight we went a to restaurant that's part of a large hotel. There were about 30 people in the restaurant and 28 of them were men. I have NEVER seen a group of women out having dinner together just because they're friends and want to have dinner together. That doesn't happen here. I've also NEVER see a man with his wife and family together. You would NEVER EVER see KIDS in a restaurant either. A restaurant is for wealthy adults, not matter how cheap the restaurant is. I haven't even see a man taking his wife out for a nice dinner together. If a man goes to dinner it's with his posse of other men. And men don't eat alone. In fact, men here don't do anything alone. If you see one man you see his entire entourage of men. This leads me to my point. Pam and I met for dinner tonight and we always have such great conversations. We were just chatting away and ordering our food (I've got this Russian almost figured out!) and we were there for nearly 2 hours. Near the end we looked up and noticed we were the ONLY 2 women in the restaurant. Oh wait! I take that back! There WAS another woman there but she was wearing a mini skirt (major fo paux here) so it seems she was this man's mistress...and again there were SEVERAL men with her so she was DEFINITELY mistress, or something else.
Pam and I realized our situation and were so thankful to be western women who could sit comfortably in a restaurant in such a male dominated society. We ordered for ourselves, had good conversation and enjoyed each other's company, and paid for ourselves. I've always loved being an American and the privileges that come with being an American but the feeling of freedom and confidence I had at that restaurant was overwhelming.
I may be gone from the soil of the United States but that doesn't mean that I don't love it. I'd rather be called a foreigner (or international) than an ex-patriot.