One of the things that every newbie blogging advice site tells you to do is find your niche. For me, that was built in. I am a newlywed that lives in Chile. Then, the advice sites all say to go out and find some other blogs to read that fit in your niche, which wasn’t hard either. I was reading a few blogs about gringas in Chile before I even decided to start a blog of my own.

Through my reading and research, a word came up that hadn’t really caught my eye before: Expat.

All of these people are describing themselves as expats, and I didn’t really understand. To be honest, I have never really heard the word used before in an everyday conversation. So, I looked up the official definition.

Expat: Short for Expatriate — a person who lives outside of their native country

Oh, well, I guess that describes me, doesn’t it? I felt like I was suddenly part of a club that I didn’t even know existed. The thing is, the word sounds negative to me, so I read a little bit more on it.

Expatriate: Archaic — a person exiled from their native country

That makes more sense, and it goes along with the negative connotation the word brings to my mind.

Like an ex-boyfriend, it sounds as if your old country betrayed you and you never want to talk to that scumbag ever again. Yeah, that’s right buddy, you can just call me EXpatriate now.

For a long time, I didn’t want to use the word very much. I felt like, if I got a negative impression of the word, other people might too. They might think that expatriate means that I’ve forsaken the United States and don’t care anymore. Considering that I read and watch more news from there daily than many people who actually live there, that is not the impression that I want to give to my readers. While I am living abroad, I am a US citizen, and what goes on there concerns me no matter where I am at.

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People in the expat community, however, seem to use the word as a badge of honor rather than seeing the negative impression of it. There are entire forums, blog networks, support groups, etc. They are made up of people all over the world sharing experiences of culture shock and help to maneuver through difficulties that you are faced with living abroad.

Someone….understands

The best therapy that I have had in the last couple months has been to read other peoples’ blogs and realize that I am not crazy! I am not the only person who thinks these things and has these problems. The comments on some of my posts has been reassuring as well. I don’t feel quite as alone in my situation anymore.

I guess, what I am trying to say is, even though my preconceptions of the word were negative, it is just the opposite. Being an expat gives me a community, support and an outlet to share my experiences that I didn’t have before.

So, I am giving in. My name is Caitlin, and I am an expat.

Just remember, I may be faraway, but I’m not gone. My heart lies in the States, just as it does in Chile.

Check out some of my favorite blogs about Chile in the links on the sidebar!

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