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Stuck in the Middle: an Expat, a Migrant or a No-where (wo)man.

When "Expat" is a Fancy Label and Home Feels Like a Vacation

For as long as I can remember, I've been a professional suitcase unpacker, living the dream (or maybe the nightmare?) of the perpetual "expat". Different countries, different languages – you name it, I've fumbled through it. But here's the thing: my "expat" life looks way less "Grey Goose brunches" and way more "budgeting for groceries" than the stereotype suggests.

This creates a strange in-between space. To the locals, I'm often categorized as an "expat," probably because physically I might fit into their "expat" stareotypes. They see (or imagine) my foreign passport and assume a life of privilege – brunches at fancy restaurants, weekend trips abroad... you name it. The truth is, I navigate the daily grind alongside them, relying on public transport and budgeting for groceries. My salary allows me to live comfortably, but it's a far cry from the image the "expat" label conjures.

Expat women. That's not me, btw.

This creates a disconnect. I have attended a few events organized by and for expats – fancy brunches at prime hours, conversations peppered with talk of international schools and weekend getaways. These events highlight the gulf between the "traditional" expat experience and my own.

The whole thing is disorienting. Then, to top it off, the other day some colleagues were like, "Hey, your accent is fading!" Thanks, guys. Here I am, feeling increasingly disconnected from where I came from, and now even the way I talk is betraying me?

This feeling of being stuck in the middle, of neither belonging here nor there, is something a lot of migrants can relate to. The "expat" label doesn't quite fit, and the truth is, there's a whole spectrum of migrant experiences out there, beyond the trust-fund stereotype. We need spaces that celebrate self-reliance and the daily grind of building a new life on a local salary, not just caviar dreams.

So, what's the answer? Maybe it's about embracing the in-between. It's about growth, it's about forging your own path, and it's about realizing that this experience, while confusing at times, is ultimately about transformation. It's about building a new identity, a beautiful mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar, the local and the echo of the place you once called home.

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