Ten years as an expat

Bird_05(1)-1This week completed ten years since my wife and I moved to Europe. In this decade, we lived in four countries, visited fifteen others, had the luck of knowing amazing people from all over the world. But was it worthwhile?

Just to be clear, to live in Europe is great. It’s peaceful, it’s comfortable, it’s exciting. Our careers probably would not have advanced to the same extent if we hadn’t moved here.

Our situation isn’t bad at all: as scientists, we’re not subject to the harsh conditions that low-qualified migrants may face; moreover, due to our names and looks, we’re easily mistaken for Italians.

Summing everything up, the good things I lived here, I attribute to this wonderful civilizatory experience called the European Union. The things that didn’t go so well were only my fault.

But to live as an expat has its price. You are far away from your family, friends, culture, language. You feel yourself a second-, sometimes third-class citizen. You are like an animated character lost in the wrong cartoon. Even worse, you can find yourself as the funny-accent buffoon of the play.

There’s still an aspect that I dislike the most. As an expat, you feel without home. The host land in all its kindness doesn’t feel home. And strangely, when you visit your original place, you don’t feel at home either. This is the curse of the expats.

My advice to the young people thinking of going abroad: do it, it’s great. Chances are that you’re going to grow as a person. But don’t overstay your welcome, so that you fall into this homeless limbo. Then, instead of becoming a citizen of the world, you become a foreign everywhere.


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Categories: Culture

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8 replies

  1. I could not agree more…

  2. Agreed. Although in my case the homeless feeling is probably much milder, because my girlfriend is from here and it has helped a lot to integrate, I am oh-so-clearly a foreigner, and I will always be…

  3. Couldn’t agree more.

  4. Okay, I see your point.. Five months abroad made me feel not home here in Brazil again… Even though, if you had the chance to go back and change the past, would you follow your advice and do not ‘overstay your welcome’?…

  5. Hello Cesar:
    My congratulations about this excelent article, talking about your life with Carla in Europe there are ten years. I as your father, I am very proud because you are a great example for many people, working hard and with responsability at the Max Planck Institute now…


  1. The Price of Being a Scientist | Much Bigger Outside

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