It was brought to my attention recently that the term “expat” can be considered by some to have a bad connotation, and implies certain things about a person’s national origin and status. I was really surprised to hear this, as this is the legal term (well, expatriate is) used to describe a person living in a foreign country, and according to the dictionary definition is the correct term for a person living in another country. The word immigrant doesn’t apply to me, as I’m here for a relatively fixed period of time and won’t be able to settle in the UK permanently. I intend to return home to the US. So for now, I stick to expatriate, or the lengthier explanation of, well I’m an American, but I’m living in the UK for a few years, not sure quite how long yet. We’re here because my partner’s position got transferred here.
Do you identify as an expat? Do you find the term offensive? If so, how do you describe your situation to others?
Another controversial term is the “trailing spouse.” Some people find it offensive because it implies that they are simply following their significant other around the world, having no say in the outcome. Others have no problem and take pride in it. I tend to dislike the term a bit, because I considered our move here to be a joint effort and decision, and to call myself a “trailing partner” implies the opposite. I realize that in some senses I am definitely not the “leading partner” because I’m here on a dependent visa, but still…I’d like to think we’re both in this together.
What are your feelings on the term “trailing spouse?” Would you use it to describe yourself?
Please debate, I am really curious as to how others feel about these terms!