Does Working Abroad Make You Feel “More _____ (British/American/Kiwi/etc.)”?
There’s a new “brand” of migrant workers, according to the International Herald Tribune: university professors. These professors say the merits of a foray abroad include an increased standard of living, a higher relative status where they can play a role in shaping the university, and of course international experience. One thing that jumped out at me though was something I’ve heard before. Regarding a professor who regretted her decision to come abroad:
… despite her hopes of contributing to an East-West dialogue, Richardson was unsettled to find herself feeling pulled toward her American identity.
“Culture is just a lot more powerful than I had ever anticipated,” she said. “I found that I really belong to this one culture — American — that I’ve been very critical of.”
Granted, she was a single mother (and a blond) teaching in the Middle East, where common discourse – correctly or not – holds that cultural differences would not be small.
But I’ve heard others say this as well, and it’s certainly not only about the Middle East. Does being abroad make you feel more a member of your “own” country?
If any of my readers really can’t tell, my general answer would be: no. I’m fairly vocal about various topics connected to my country, and as I mentioned here, I don’t like the idea that a person should be expected to “represent” their country when traveling or working abroad. Sometimes it strikes me that I am treated “better” (as in, I suppose, more of an equal) by people in certain other countries than I am in my own. But basically, being in another country just doesn’t make me feel more connected to citizens of my own.
But I’ll admit this:
There have been times when I’ve realized that something in my upbringing or socializing or something does seem to make it so I just will not be okay with a particular “thing” ever. For example, the idea of holding a large meeting without any real agenda, drifting from one topic to another and returning again, without anyone really in charge and without really ever reaching any conclusion. This is something I will probably always feel frustrated with. I think it has something to do with my personality and also, yes, with growing up in the United States. And I’m sure there are people from other countries who would say the same. I still wouldn’t say it makes me feel “more American” when I realize that…but it’s something I guess.