Inside the expat bubble
A couple of months ago I was talking to a group of friends, who had just come back from holidays in Egypt. I wanted to know all about it. So I kept on asking them: What have you seen?, how are the pyramids?, how do locals live?. Of course, I didn’t expect them to tell me some stories to level up with National Geographic’s documentaries, but I was a little disappointed when all I heard was: “It was awesome man!, We partied all day long”.
This conversation came back to me not long ago as I was reading the news about the riots happening in Egypt. I suddenly remembered one of my friends saying: “I wish I could be living in Egypt. What kind of problems can people have with such an amazing weather?”. At that time we were just nodding at that sentence. Lately it turned out that it wasn’t such a paradise after all. Why haven’t they noticed any problems going on in the country?
What is the expat bubble?
While browsing through the newspaper yesterday, an article caught my attention. It was a short article about the “expat bubble”. I have never heard that term before so I immediately read the whole thing. An author was sharing his point of view about people who are abroad but they do not experience being abroad. In his opinion unless one has been abroad for more than three months, we are all likely to remain in the ‘expat bubble’.
Let’s say at the beginning that the ‘expat bubble’ is not a real place. My friends were inside of the expat bubble their whole time in Egypt. Their Egypt was truly a paradise full of luxurious hotels, delicious food, amazing trips to see magnificent places, great parties, nice people and nothing to worry about. I am sure it is an amazing place, but is this all? They didn’t see the real place at all. That it is not the real Egypt. They lived in guarded areas, separated from the rest of the country which has been immersed in poverty and suffering all along.
Am I part of the expat bubble?
Today, I had a Skype chat with that friend who said the comment about living in Egypt. I brought up the topic and she said: “You know what, now that I think about it, while we were going to the pyramides, we saw a lot of people on the streets, probably jobless or even homeless. But we were having a blast, so we stayed oblivious to that”.
Right now I wonder if am I also living in a expat bubble while in Madrid. I have been here for a while, doing Erasmus and working in an international environment. It is definitely a great period of time in my life but have I really experienced Spain? I almost don’t hang out with spanish people, spend a lot of time talking in polish and english and I am still obsessed about american series. I don’t know if taking tons of pictures in Sol or Plaza Mayor is enough to say I’m out of the “expat bubble”.