Expatriate life

For book club we just read a book, The Expatriates by Janice Lee.  It was fairly good..a pretty easy read.   It did make me think a bit about our lives here as expats.  At our book club discussion we talked about whenever anyone without a high paying job moves into another country they are called immigrants, where those with good jobs are usually expats.  The book discussed some American expats living in Hong Kong, and I get the feeling that living in Hong Kong is WAY different than living in Suva.  The expats there seemed to live a much more privileged life than here....but there were some similarities.  We do live a life of privilege compared to the majority of the population here in Fiji.  It's nice at times, and other times it's a bit unnerving... It does make me very grounded in what we have.  (I felt like that too when I worked at a Title One school).   I am constantly reminding myself to be grateful and try not to take what we have for granted.  

The expats in the story also talked about sticking with your own kind...even when you try to become friends with locals.  I try not to do this...but I have to admit, I am definitely way closer to other expats than I am to any local Fijians.  I hope that is not always the case here.  I am learning the language - a struggle for me.  I work with a lot of Fijians...which has definitely helped me to develop new friends and understand the culture in a deeper way.  Yet, I connect mostly with expats...not just the American ones though. I am good friends with Americans, but also Australians, Kiwi's, and others from all over the world.  On Tuesday I took the girls to swim practice and found myself being the only mom there, among many nannies.  I know all of these nannies as they are taking care of my friends' children.  I spoke with them for about 10 minutes as we watched the kids swim....and then the conversation grew stagnant.  They started speaking to each other in Fijian and I wondered if I would be rude if I pulled out my book I had to finish for book club that night.  I waited about 5 minutes and then eventually started to read.  I definitely felt like an expat in that moment.

Expats also share the same stories of hello's and goodbyes.  We are constantly saying farewell to friends who have made their way into our hearts.  There is always a bit of sadness about saying goodbye and wondering how close to get to people...depending on when they will leave.  I almost always ask how long someone will be here when I meet them.  I try not to base my level of closeness with them on their departure date, but it's hard not to protect yourself a little bit.  There are always new expats and the same conversations ....where you can buy good meat, which resorts are the best, etc.  There are the expats that have lived here a very long time... maybe they married someone from here or have started their own business.  I think it must be really hard on them when people come and go all of the time.  They seem to get into their own groove and become much closer with Fijians.  Most expats seem to be here for 2-3 years.  Warren's contract is for 5 years, give or take.  I wonder how our life will  progress through these years.  I wonder how hard it will be to go back home and re-adjust to American culture.  For now...I am just thankful we are here.