I came across this while perusing the internet this morning. It’s similar to my post about the different types of teachers you meet when living abroad, but a little more general. InterNations is an online international community that brings together like-minded expats.
Five Types of Global Minds You Meet Abroad
Driven by curiosity and a lust for adventure, the explorer is keen to see more of the world.
The explorer simply loves to travel the globe, to seek out foreign shores and explore the world. Displaying a keen interest in all that is new and unknown, the explorer is oftentimes particularly drawn to destinations which very much differ from home. Asia, for example, is thus a popular destination of choice for western explorers.
While abroad, the explorer actively seeks out to experience the local culture. Attempts to speak the local language are made, but not always successful. Explorers are like nomads, roaming the globe because there is so much to see, learn, and experience, with each trip or stay abroad an adventure to somewhere new.
However, there are some explorers with a particularly focused interest in one specific country or culture, then known as country-/culturephiles. Take for example the Anglophile. Self-made expats often fall into this sub-category, spurred on by their love for a destination to make the move abroad.
Contrary to the explorer, the escapee is less driven by a love for the unknown, and more by a desire to flee their home. Reasons for the escapee’s flight may vary, from simply boredom to trouble with an ex-wife or the law. The common theme, however, is typically the further away and the more exotic the destination, the better.
The expat retiree is a classic example for the escapee type. Finally able to enjoy the fruits of their life-long labors, most retirees seek out sunny shores to escape the wet and cold climates of their home countries. Florida and Thailand, for instance, are popular destinations for the pensioned escapee.
The Foreign Partner
The foreign partner is living abroad not because of a love or hate for one country, but simply because of love, period. Regardless of whether they have met the love of their life during an explorer’s adventure or simply at the supermarket checkout, the foreign partner finds themselves abroad because love knows no borders.
Depending on their general disposition and personality, moving abroad for love may be the happy fulfilment of a lifelong dream or have the potential of becoming a nightmare. Only the end of the honeymoon phase will tell.
The International Local
Not a foreign resident himself, the international local is nevertheless very much a global mind. They actively seek out travelers and foreigners, or are at least glad to be gotten in touch with and are thankful for opportunities to share their local expertise with strangers.
International locals are often returned explorers or repatriates themselves, hungering for familiar accents and opportunities to speak the language, keen on sharing experiences, news and stories about the former host-country, or simply hoping to get back this feeling of travelling and experiencing foreign cultures.
The Classic Expatriate
Sent abroad for a few years by their current employer, the classic expatriate typically takes this chance to further their career and ideally also get some expat benefits out of their stay abroad. Being sent abroad is, however, already where most similarities between classic expatriates end. Based on their individual characters and their behavior while living abroad, there are at least three very distinct subcategories of classic expatriates: the alien, the elitist, and the assimilator.
The alien sticks out in his host country and culture like a sore thumb, whether by choice (e.g. culturally insensitive behavior), or by circumstances (e.g. outward appearance). The elitist similarly does not integrate in the local culture, but spends most of his time, both at work and at home, with fellow expats. The assimilator, on the other hand, does their best to blend in by speaking the local language and adhering to local customs.
Of course, as is always the case with types and categories, these are very much a broad generalization. In real life, things are hardly ever as black and white. In fact, global minds can easily be identified or identify themselves with more than one of these types or a totally different type entirely. A keen explorer, for instance, may happily be sent abroad on a classic expat assignment.