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August 11, 2009


Ernest Barteldes

What I struggled mostly after I returned were the long commutes and the crazy hours in NY. It took me a while, but I got used to it. What else was I to do?


Great Job! Very good and insightful post. These one will make you famous.


I totally agree with everything you’ve outlined in this post. Besides the potential for mutually beneficial economic growth between countries, this is one of the main reasons I advocate more open labor markets internationally as seen in the European Union: expatriates bring a wealth of new knowledge, experience, and a fresh perspective to the country they go to work in as well as to their home country once they return. An American who has worked abroad has a colossal leg up on one who has decided to stay here working the typical nine to five corporate job with the biweekly paycheck.

I can really relate to your points about maturity, being a “fast learner,” and your frustration with the fact that other qualifications outweigh having lived abroad. I live in a very insular part of the country (for only a little while longer thank God) and was forced to return here after I attempted to move to Rio looking for a job in my field. The down-home, frat-pack, consumerist culture and the cutesy, unsophisticated, pea-sized worldview my coworkers have disgusts me. Their “personalities” entail striving to be regional versions of Brody Jenner or Spencer Pratt (the condescending prick voice, the feigned nonchalance, etc.) and they are obsessed with consumerism. They can’t ever stop and just “be.” They always have to “be” buying, constantly spending money on the next superfluous thing they’ve convinced themselves they need. I believe it stems from their immaturity and lack of perspective. There’s definitely a perspective gap between those that have spent time abroad and those that haven’t and is usually frustrating being surrounded by these people in the workplace.

As far as being a “fast learner” goes, I really appreciate how living in Brazil has helped me put the “problems” we have here in perspective and has made me more resourceful and crafty. Working up against a 5pm deadline seems like nothing compared to accidentally stumbling into an apartment full of prostitutes during my hunt for housing in Rio, or having a landlord assure me that despite an apartment’s proximity to a favela, the drug lords “kept their territory safe” to ensure that business ran smoothly.

Finally, I share your frustration about what I would call more “on paper” qualifications outweighing having been an expatriate in the job market, except I feel it in reverse. I have had good jobs here in the U.S., but I find it frustrating that because of all the red tape and protectionist bureaucracy I can’t work in Rio (or at least São Paulo) in corporate finance in my early twenties. Instead I’ll have to resign myself to teaching English (or some equally flaky, financially unsustainable pursuit), Then I’ll have to jump through the hoop of getting at least an MBA, with the hope that my company might throw me a bone and transfer me to their São Paulo office, since, as we all know, that is where most of the big American companies are.

Either way, I hope expatriates are more appreciated and accepted in the job markets the world over!


I think tenacity is another thing that could be added to this list. Expats face many setbacks both in planning to go abroad and once they have arrived. In Sao Paulo I faced a robbery, two stomach infections and the company I worked for almsot went under while I worked there! I'm sill here though and I lived to tell about it. After that I definitely felt like I could face anyhting the world threw my way.


Why don't you add that 10 reasons to your cover letter? It would be fun.


Hey Rachel, this is an excellent top ten list. I think a big reason is that Expats just have so much more world experience and have developed a different perspective and way to look at things by being exposed to other cultures. It helps them think creatively and outside the box, something that every organization is looking for. You can cross-post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.


I live in Ecuador and it is a wonderful country. Its people are so nice and kind, they will give you the most warming welcome. I have put together a helpful fact sheet, and also an article on Ecuadorian manners and customs.

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