Welcome to the swamp! Here, lurking in the muck, where creativity spawns, you'll find Mrs Crocodile, aka Colleen Dunkel, a costumer and teacher based in Basel, Switzerland.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Expat or cowpat?

As with all labels, "expat" gets old.  You know what I'm talking about.  You've lived as long or longer abroad than you lived in the place you were born.  At least it feels like a life-time.  You made friends with people who spoke your language in the expat community, until you realized that they kept mysteriously disappearing as if there was some kind of guerilla war going on.  And you thought this was a neutral country.  You've learned to guiltily, yet discreetly slip the question to new people you meet at parties: "Is this a permanent move?"  Because you don't want to invest the time and energy in someone who is just going to run off at the drop of a hat to the next better paying job and cheaper country than this one.  You actually speak the language of your host country.  Your own country feels like a host country.  You are tired (really tired) of people asking you: "Why are you here?"  The answer to this question gets longer and longer the amount of time you've lived in your host country so congratulating the person on asking such a great open-ended question is the only right answer.  Because you know that person does not want the three-hour-answer.  We all know that the why-are-you-here question always follows the pre-requisite where-are-you-from question, so you could at this point run.  I have another tactic: if someone asks either of those questions I respond, "I can't remember actually.  Let me think..."  and then I change the subject.  If you're tired of talking about the weather, I suggest the topic of shoes.  Both male and female human beings seem to have a lot to say on this subject.
"Oh!  So you really want to know why I'm here?" at this point, try to smile and not look tired: "I'm a cowpat, I'm not an expat.  I'm working on the soil here and fertilizing it.  Actually, I just got some great new shit-kicking boots on sale.  And you?"

Break a leg, dear readers, I am, as usual, yours, but this time with with water-proof footwear,
Mrs Crocodile


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2 comments:

  1. "Got a job here in 1995 and stayed." That's the three-second answer!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That means you are now past the cow-pat stage. Welcome home.

    ReplyDelete