Foreigners: Defined

16 Jan

Just to clarify some of the terms that often get thrown around here:

Expatriate: a person who lives in a foreign country; resident in a foreign country; exiled or banished from one’s native country

Immigrant: a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence

Emigrant: a person who emigrates, as from his or her native country or region

Tourist: a person who is traveling, esp. for pleasure

Local: pertaining to or characterized by place or position in space; spatial

I use these words quite often, but to really understand the difference between them you should become more familiar with them. There are many subtle differences which the dictionary doesn’t make mention of but which are socially known. For example, you would think of Bolivian or Peruvian migrants in Argentina as immigrants because they have come in search of work and a better life. Yet you would call an American or Englishman an expat because they aren’t moving solely based on the need for more income, but for perhaps personal growth. Or maybe their profession sent them here. But in reality, the word immigrant is more closely associated with those who are poor and trying to elevate themselves, where as expat has a flexible bank account, education and options to pick up and leave whenever the winds change.

One word is a developing nation while the other is a first world nation. One word is seen as the reason for lack of jobs, increase in crime and too many students in public institutes. The other word is seen as a potential for more foreign investment, progression of intercultural exchange and the growth of a nation. All of those things aside, when you break it down we are simply all foreigners. A tourist is not an expat, and someone living abroad for a couple of months is not a resident. A resident is not a citizen. A citizen is not a foreigner, expat, immigrant or emigrant. Yet they can be tourists and locals at the same time. In summation, they can all coexist and be friends together if they choose to work together, or they can mock each other and hold resentment against one another for various reasons. The potential is there for anything.

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