Saturday, November 18, 2017

Why I do not consider myself an expat - confessions of a Wandering Writer

Welcome once again to this Saturday morning blog. Recently, during a dinner with other friends who, like me moved away from their native land, we started to talk about life abroad and particularly sharing our experiences as an expat.
Now lets start with the definition:

An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship.

In common usage, the term often refers to professionals or skilled workers sent abroad by their employers, who can be companies, governments, or non-governmental organizations. However, the term 'expatriate' is also used for retirees and others who have chosen to live outside their native country. Historically, it has also referred to exiles.

We also examined the difference between expatriate, migrant, and immigrant.
A migrant is a person who constantly moves from Country to Country to find something better. Meanwhile, an immigrant is a person who establishes permanently to another country acquiring the residence permit.
However, besides the definitions, there is one thing that hasnt been taken into account, and that is the way a person feels with the fact of moving away from their own land. Many people (and in this case, I do not talk about refugees) consider this as a necessary step to be done, but they would rather remain close to their family and roots (eventually they come back every time they can and plan to come back after retirement), others, just like me do not consider it either a move.
I have never identified myself with a single nationality, particularly after having lived for 28 years in Italy, moving from city to city, 3 years in Germany and for 13 years in Finland. In fact four years after my stay in Finland I obtained the citizenship, so legally I am both Italian and Finnish. To be honest, I consider myself belonging to both the places.
I also realized having quite much in common with the different cultures.
I am as positive as an Italian, always ready to see the bright side even in the tragedies.
I am reserved and lover of the quiet, solitude and nature like a Finn.
Ive found myself at ease with all the people I have met in my lifetime journey, enough to make me say that I am not bonded to a place, in particular, but I absorb what I think fit for myself and carry with me for the rest of my journey.

We talked about roots, thinking about how some people feel like trees. Once they are transplanted to another land with another soil, they will try and survive, but they will long for their home.
As for me, I considered myself like garlic, which has very short roots and it is easily adaptable to every soil condition. I carry with me my curiosity, and with that, I discover the world.

Now think about yourself, if you have to imagine yourself as a plant, what kind of roots you have? As large and deep as a walnut tree or are you small (or nonexistent) rooted like garlic or spring onion, or perhaps, you are something in between?
After some thoughts about the definition of expat, migrant, and immigrant, I couldnt find myself fitting into any of those definitions. I just feel I do belong to this planet and perhaps one day I will move towards another destination.
In the meanwhile, I love to travel and discover new places, people and who knows, perhaps also a new place where to settle.
I am not sure whether I have found the place where I would like to live for the rest of my life. One thing for sure is that I am in love with Finland, even with its long and dark winters, with the moodiness that accompanies the change of the seasons, the rainy weather of certain summers or the lack of nights during those months. I love the silence and quiet in the forest, where you might find yourself eye-to-eye with a deer or a moose, or you might get the first good morning from a hare or a squirrel crossing your path. I love Italy with its amazing diversity in micro climates, sceneries, and lifestyle. With the fertility of its land and the scent of its earth. Although, I loved all the places I have visited and all for so many different reasons.

Indeed, the Wandering Writer doesnt feel like she has a real citizenship, she keeps in her heart every little place in the world like it would be her own home.
Cheers, and have a great time, wherever you are!

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