Monday, 9 September 2013

Second Generation Expats

The modern world is one where borders and distances seem to be but small obstacles and we are free to travel as far as our bravery, and pocket, allows us. The nomadic lifestyle of second generation expats is just one demonstration of this.  

In the wake of the Second World War, many people moved around the globe be that Brits taking advantage of cheap fares to Australia, or people from commonwealth nations travelling to the UK after serving in the army. While some of these émigrés stayed put, for many for it was the beginning of a new way of life. For the children of these expats moving between countries, continents and hemispheres, this was a normal occurrence. Now the children of these post-war baby boomers are second generation expats with children of their own.

Living the expat life opens up new horizons and it’s common for children of expats to inherit their parents’ desire to travel, discover and appreciate different ways of life. 

If you ask a second generation expat or their children where they come from they may well pause for a moment as, for them, this is no simple question. Do they answer their parents’ home nation, the countries they grew up in, or the country they are living in now? The ‘home’ their parents refer to may seem like a distant and hardly identifiable place, a place for summer holidays but not for life. They may have been born, raised, and educated in a range of countries. So what elements do they pick that defines their identity most strongly? This answer is further complicated as many are lucky enough to hold multiple passports. For example, second generation expats may have IDs or passports in the country they were born in or the country their parents were citizens of. For others, the cultural identity remains a lifelong question as they question whether they are still seen as a second generation “expat” or simply a citizen born and bred in that country.

However, as long as you’re happy not to get too hung up on this and instead embrace it then there is no denying that these second generation expats have a great range of life experiences being exposed to a home culture and the local culture. The expat attitude towards moving around the world is quite unique, and it seems that so long as you have a valid visa and an open mind the world is your oyster.

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