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Why I’m making a case for the expat bubble.

Author: Mimi Ruivah
3 Minutes

Why I’m making a case for the expat bubble.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the process of moving to India, we’ve all had questions burning at the back of our heads. Will Indian food make me sick? Will I be safe in India? Will I like my apartment? Should I learn Hindi? Where to shop in India? And of course, where do other expats hangout? Because as important as it is to immerse ourselves into the local culture, it is also important to cling on to something familiar just to keep our sanity. We, eventually, build our circle of friends, which initially will be mostly fellow expats. We eat together, travel together, play football together, and before we know it, we have our own little community of expats—an expat bubble. So, what exactly is an expat bubble? According to InterNations, “The expat bubble can be likened to an ecosystem made up of expats who only interact with one another and remain separate from the local culture.” It used to refer mainly to expats from the same culture and language. However, with time, it did not necessarily matter what countries we were from, but that we were on the same boat.

It is common knowledge that individuals who have had similar experiences are naturally drawn together because of a sense of solidarity. Even more so in a country like India, where the culture is so diverse and different from what most of us are used to, we tend to drift towards a crowd that we’re more familiar with. Hence, is it really such a bad thing that we have this bubble?

 


It is common knowledge that individuals who have had similar experiences are naturally drawn together because of a sense of solidarity. Even more so in a country like India, where the culture is so diverse and different from what most of us are used to, we tend to drift towards a crowd that we’re more familiar with.


 

More often than not, after moving to India, we find ourselves in a dilemma— a clash between our expectations and reality. We often see expat life as fun and exciting, which it is, but it is also tough. We move to a new country thinking we will pick up the language, learn the culture and practice it, and even eat local. Then reality strikes, we learn to say kitna he but fail to take the conversation forward, we find out the hard way that Delhi belly is a thing, but most of all, we learn that no matter how immersed we are in the culture, at the end of the day, it will still be tough. Having said that, if we choose living completely inside the bubble it will lead us to missing out on a lot of things the local community has to offer. The expat bubble is a great support system for all of us living in a foreign country. It gives us the opportunity to connect with people likeminded individuals, who share a certain love, fascination, and frustration for the country we chose to live in.

If we look up the term expat bubble on the internet, it comes with a lot of negative connotations, such as entitlement, privilege, and even snobbery. The tendency to exist in bubbles is more of a necessity than oblivion. When an expat’s lifestyle does not match with their local counterparts, building relationships can be a challenge. We also need to take into consideration the language barrier, way of thinking, and even humour! It’s all about finding a balance between the two. Some of us have been successful with our balancing act, and some, not so much— that’s okay.

The expat bubble is a great support system for all of us living in a foreign country. It gives us the opportunity to connect with people likeminded individuals, who share a certain love, fascination, and frustration for the country we chose to live in.

Nevertheless, if you want to venture out of your bubbles more often, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Learn the local language. English is vastly spoken in India, but it is always helpful to learn the basics to make your stay easier.
  2. Volunteering is one of the best ways to connect with the local community. It could be a pet drive, teaching languages, and etc.
  3. Travel. Visit parts of India that aren’t very touristy!
  4. But most of all, take your time in discovering India and all the beautiful things it has to offer.

 

Photo by: Raychan, Daniel von Appen, Nathan Dumlao

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