Expatriates living abroad often attract a lot of attention. The clothes they wear, the way they speak and even the food they choose to eat often gives them away. Many have no problem divulging private information to all and sundry. But if you would prefer to keep your private life private as an expatriate, what should you do?
Do Not Become a Performing Monkey
When you live abroad, you will attract attention. Do not make the mistake of turning into a performing monkey. In other words, do not draw needless attention to yourself, your nationality, or culture and pander to the stereotypes that locals may have of you. Learn to blend in so that you will be treated more like the locals.
If you are not happy about divulging private information to everyone you come across (and believe me, you will be a source of curiosity!) then you need to be discreet in the way you behave and with what you are willing to share.
Who Needs to Know?
Do not be surprised if you are quickly bombarded by the new culture when you first move abroad. Culture shock can hit you hard and fast. It takes time and effort to settle in and turn your new environment into “home”. While you do so, remember that not everyone who demands to know all about you needs to know your intimate secrets.
Before you bare your soul, consider who is doing the asking and if it would be wise to confide in them. Is it a student at your new school where you will be teaching, the little old lady across the street from you, who is simply trying to strike up a friendship, or a pushy member of the opposite sex who thinks that you will welcome their advances? Pick your friends and your confidants carefully.
Kate and her friend Joel are an expat information team who have lived and worked all over the world. Their advice in the article entitled “Expat Challenges: Meeting New People” suggests getting friendly with the locals so that you can settle in more easily. Then you will feel more comfortable revealing information with people who are no longer strangers, but who have become your friends.
As an expatriate living abroad, you are a guest in another country. It is important to do your best to project the best possible image of yourself by being a polite, gracious guest. However, that does not mean to say your whole life needs to be laid out bare for everyone to see. You are entitled to keep your private life private as an expatriate. Whether or not you prove successful in your attempts will depend entirely on you.
“Expat Challenges: Meeting New People: British Expat Community, BritishExpats.com
More from this contributor:
A British Expatriate’s Guide to Preserving Their Culture
How to Avoid Becoming a Complaining Expatriate
Smooth Move Tips for British Expatriates Moving to America