Ex-Pat? Stop Calling Yourself That!

Americans are incredibly duplicitous sometimes. Here we are, living in Mexico, and calling ourselves “ex-pats.” No, we’re immigrants. Just like the Mexicans that go to the US for a better life, we come to Mexico for a better life, or perhaps I should say, a better quality of life. We are NO DIFFERENT. So why to we get to be ex-pats and they are immigrants? Because we think we’re special.

Guess Again

Lyn and I have only been here for three weeks and we have run into a number of challenges. For example, simply opening a bank account requires you to have proof you live here (i.e., a utility bill, etc.) and a local phone number. Fortunately, although my Spanish is pretty good, I was able to find a banker that speaks English (thank you, Tiffany!). In the case of complicated financial or legal matters, it is a bit easier to do in your native language. I can just imaging what it would have been like for Lyn to try to do it on his own in Spanish. He is learning some right now, but very basic stuff at the moment.

Not only did it take several hours in the bank and a mound of papers to sign, but we also had to go and get local phone numbers, which took another two hours and cost several hundred dollars. Best part? The chips won’t work in our phones!!! So, we have paid for two phone plans for a year that we can’t even use. However, we now have two local phone numbers. Ha!

Imagine what it is like to be Mexican in the US, where not only can you not speak the language well, if at all, but you are looked down upon simply because you are from that country south of the US border. You become virtually invisible.

Let’s reverse our scenario and see what that might look like:

  1. You decide you want to live in the US because it is the “land of opportunity.”
  2. You get on a plane with your five suitcases and four animals, rent an airbnb and just go.
  3. You find out that it isn’t that simple. You first have to get residency (oops, I didn’t know that) before you can get a car. And you need a car because the city where you are living has no real public transportation. You don’t know anyone in the US, so you have no one to tell you these things you didn’t know.
  4. You can’t rent an apartment because you can’t understand the language.
  5. You can’t exchange your pesos for dollars because you can’t find a place that will do it or explain to you how to get it done. (Banks in smaller cities don’t do currency exchanges and, in the US, we don’t have money changers on every block.)
  6. You can’t find work because you don’t have residency. The only way to get work without residency is to have a skill that is in high demand, and you don’t. (We were lucky. Being a native English speaker is a highly sought-after skill in Mexico.)
  7. But wait, even if you could work, you don’t have transportation. Besides, no one will hire you because you don’t speak the language.


So how is this different? Are Mexicans ex-pats from the south? Or are Americans just that special (i.e., racist) that we get a fancy term to designate the fact that we are foreigners in a foreign land?

Me? I’m an immigrant from the US.

Start Treating Everyone Like a Person

It’s about time Americans (and by that I mean people from the US, since Mexicans are Americans, too) started treating everyone as well as the Mexican people treat us. We are welcomed here, invited into their homes, asked to teach their children, and provided with healthcare and status as people who care enough to be want to be here. There isn’t anything here that we don’t have in the US, except perhaps the stress of the insane lifestyle and drive to earn massive amounts of money.

I actually prefer a calmer lifestyle, where when the workday is over, I can relax at the plaza and watch the families play with their children in the square, have a nice meal and a drink, and enjoy the delicious evening air.

Published by donnageisler

Former marketing professional turned teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Lover of poodles, large and small.

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