How Expats Greet Each Other

Before I talk about expats, let’s go over a typical ice-breaker conversation in the United States:

Charlie: “Hey, Alice – I want you to meet Bob. Bob, this here’s Alice. Talk amongst yourselves.”

    Alice: Hi Bob. What do you do?
    Bob: I’m a butcher/engineer/shepherd/{any trade you want} You?
    Alice: I write for the local paper.
    Bob: Oh, that must be interesting…how long have you been there?
    Alice: About 4 years. Yeah, I like it. I meet a lot of interesting people.
    Bob: That sounds interesting.

Should sound familiar. It’s pretty much the dialogue you have each time you meet someone, right?

Okay, now how about the same ice breaker between expats?

    Jeff: So, where are you from?
    Martin: UK {note to non-Britons: they never say Great Britain! 🙂 }
    Jeff: Ok, cool. I’m American. How long you been here?
    Martin: 8, 8 1/2 years – you?
    Jeff: Just 4 years.
    Martin: What do you do?
    Jeff: I work at {insert multinational company or global datacenter}
    Martin: Oh, yes, I know a lot of Americans there. You know Buddy Sowenso?
    Jeff: I’ve heard the name, but I don’t know him yet. What do you do?
    Martin: I’m teaching English at the {insert language school or city college}.
    Jeff: Oh, okay. Do you get home often?
    Martin: Once, maybe twice a year. You?
    Jeff: Not as much. Been back just one time

    [ …… after more socializing / drinking ….. ]

    Martin: I couldn’t believe it …Totally didn’t expect that!
    Jeff: Unreal…only here, right? So, plans to return home?
    Martin: Yeah, probably after another year or so. You?
    Jeff: I’m almost ready. Maybe after another year or so.

See any differences? Talk amongst yourselves. 🙂

Now, how expat friends greet each other is another story. Do expats hug, kiss or handshake?

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An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.

One thought on “How Expats Greet Each Other”

  1. From my personal experience, here’s a couple things I note:
    From the earliest conversation with someone, you will find out:
    1. Where they’re from.
    2. How long they’ve been there (been expats).
    3. How often they get to go back. (whether they call it home or not)

    After a bit more chit-chat, you’ll likely also find out:
    4. What they do for income.
    5. Kids, family (so, …married a local or spouse also expat?)

    After much more socializing, you’ll also get:
    6. Strong feeling whether they enjoy it here.
    7. How soon they’re moving on, either back home or somewhere else.


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