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Conversation Starter: Expat or Immigrant?

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Posts: 395
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Topic starter
(@astridff)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Conversation starter for the week...

In your opinion and to your knowledge, what is the difference between being an expat vs being an immigrant in Portugal (or any other country)? .

 

14 Replies
1 Reply
VIP Member
(@stevej)
Joined: 14 years ago

Noble Member
Posts: 1267

I guess it all depends on context and viewpoint.

 

I'm a Brit now living in Portugal, so in that respect I am an immigrant to this country. What this means, in reality, depends on context and viewpoint.

 

- From the official PT State point of view, I'm an immigrant and do not have the same rights as PT citizens.

 

- But, as in the UK when discussing immigration, different people have different agendas. An immigrant can be a “foreigner nicking all our jobs and scrounging off the state” or “a valued and hard-working member of society”. I've only been in PT for about 2 years, but I don't get the feeling that there is any real discussion of immigration or deep feeling about immigrants here – long may that continue.

 

- When considering demographics and population change/movement, I will always be an immigrant (even if I were to take PT citizenship, I'd still be an immigrant in this context.)

 

- In the social context, depending on how much I mix/share within the community, I might be considered an “outsider”, but this could be the same even if someone were to move around within their own country – a “townie” moving from London to the countryside, or a southerner moving “up north”. I remember many years ago I moved to rural Anglesey and my next-door neighbour was another English person. On our first meeting, she indicated she was glad I had moved there as we now had a little “enclave”. Needless to say, there wasn't much ongoing chatting over the fence.

 

Expat – now there's a term filled with different meanings. In popular culture in the UK, expats are historically portrayed as “White men and their wives running the plantations in India or Africa, dining in exclusive clubs”. More recently, the emphasis has switched to groups of retirees living the life in bars and on the beaches of southern Spain (or a touch more middle-class, living in Gîtes in central France).

 

This can lead to the term expat being seen in a negative context – people in the UK questioning, with more than a touch of jealousy, why expats pensioners should receive their winter fuel allowance, or even receive the state pension at all.

 

Whether groups of people from one country living in another should refer to themselves as expats again depends on context. Using the term in a general, neutral sense to refer to a group that share a common characteristic (eg say, the angling community; Doctor Who fans) or who want to discuss shared problems (eg people with a particular illness) is, in my book, OK and acts as an easy short-hand. But, if the term is used by a group to set themselves apart from others, then I'd say that is not a good look.

So, context is all.

 

Sorry – I've banged on at length, obviously a lazy expat sunning himself in Portugal with too much time on his hands...

 

 

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Posts: 95
Premium Member
(@longhornlady)
Trusted Member
Joined: 1 year ago

@christopherdouglas and @astridff

I consider myself an immigrant because I plan to stay in Portugal and make it my home and learn the language and have Portuguese friends.

Some of my friends are also immigrants or expats who are also from the US and speak English and it is nice to get together with them and share the immigrant experience.

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