Congratulations! You’ve made the bold decision to leave your home country and live abroad. It’s going to be an incredible adventure, filled with challenges that will force you to grow as a person. You likely have many questions and concerns, but the internet is here to help! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, hundreds of thousands of expats and immigrants have congregated to forums on social media and beyond. Here they offer their assistance and comfort for any sort of troubles you might have. There’s just one problem with these expat forums- and that’s the type of posts you’ll find there. Curious? Here are the 5 types of posts you’re likely to find on expat forums.
- The “Jerry Seinfeld” Hey guys- what’s the deal with these crazy local customs? Has anyone else noticed how weird the food here is? But for real, the postal service here sucks, amirite? Yes. You are right. Things are different here. It’s like you’re in a whole other country with it’s own languages and customs. It’s fine to point these things out every once in awhile, but be careful- do it too much and you start going from “Jerry Seinfeld” observation level to “Amy Schumer”.
- The Stupid Easy Question In general, people are lazy, because society rewards those that find the simplest solution the fastest. The problem is that expat forums, like all forums, make it incredibly easy to be lazy. Why bother doing any research yourself when you can just shoot a question out into the ether and get an answer almost instantaneously? So before you start to post about something, maybe do a little check to see if anyone else wrote about this before. It could be as simple as thinking back to all the other times you were on the forum and trying to remember if you saw a similar post. If you’re new, use the search function. You save yourself (and others) time to be even lazier.
- The Friendly Neighborhood Expat
Maybe it’s because you’ve just started visiting these forums, but you had a happy experience and want to share it with others. It could be something as simple as discovering a hidden corner shop or meeting the nicest people at an expat event- you want people to know about it! Sadly, for every one of these experiences there are 5 jaded ones (but more on that later). It’s hard to stay positive when most posts are about struggles and cries for help. But for the sake of everyone’s sanity and well being, please continue to share these experiences.
- The Grumpy Expat
You’re jaded. You thought that life abroad was going to be something special but are finally coming to the “Adjustment Stage” of culture shock. Everything generally sucks and instead of pointing out how things are different, you take to the forum to complain. Usually you find a large number of people who relate and contribute to this notion that these foreigners are doing things wrong, perhaps they even start to add to your original bad mood with more negative opinions. And you feel good, for a while. But then you feel bad. It’s ok to share your problems with a small group of friends or event vent to random strangers on the internet, but take a moment to appreciate all the wonderful things about living abroad before you do. If that doesn’t work, I recommend the “Eye Bleach” subreddit.
- The Shameless Promotion Believe it or not, there are industries built on suckering in expats and immigrants that are new to a country. They realize that usually these people are broke, scared, and seeking direction. Sometimes you get a decent post with information that you can actually use. Other times you get backbreaking work with little experience to show for it or random events where you can meet more broke/scared/directionless people. When it gets bad, you’ll find these promotional posts cluttering the forum, blocking out the actual content and making it feel like you’re talking to pop-up ads instead of people. Most of the time the forum admins are pretty good about blocking these spammy, shameless promotions, but not always. That being said, please follow my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram for more expat advice!
Wonder what it’s like on the other side? Read the companion piece “The 5 Types of Responses on Expat Forums”!
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