Why I have become an expat

I suppose that’s what I am now. An “expat.” “Expat” is a newfangled word for those who leave their country to live in another. In my case, I left the US to live in Uruguay.

Why do people leave the US? Each expat has their own reason for doing so. It’s none of my business unless the person volunteers or if we get to know each other well. I say this because it’s a rather deep and personal topic. Sometimes, finances are involved and in my culture it’s not all that polite to get nosy about money. I’ve learned also to keep my own reasons to myself likewise. There are some that I simply should never tell. I learned that one fast.

Not everyone has the same viewpoint. Right away when I got here, that very evening, I met other expats who find what’s happening in the US disturbing and frightening and left for that reason. I discovered that we were like-minded, so I shared more freely. I have also met folks that were not at all disillusioned with their previous homes but came for another reason. I didn’t pry and from now on with these folks I will be careful to reveal less. \\

With some folks, I don’t want to reveal that I ever saw a shrink back in the US. Others hate what’s happening in psychiatry as much as I do! With the latter, I am more likely to share my sentiment and even experiences.

From what I can gather, many come here because they assume it’s gonna be cheaper and therefore a decent place to retire. THINK TWICE. DO YOUR RESEARCH. I didn’t come for that reason at all and I think some that do may later have regrets. This is the reason: You may or may not find the climate agreeable, including the very high humidity. You may be accustomed to many luxuries and high-tech stuff and seriously miss it all.

The major thing to consider is that if you don’t know Spanish, you will need to learn it. I have met expats who have been here for years and still don’t know the language, probably because they aren’t mingling, only hanging out in the tiny community of English-speakers. It’s highly to your advantage to LEARN and work at it regularly until you have basic proficiency. This is especially true if you are going to locate to a sparsely populated area. In larger cities I’ll bet you can get away with knowing less Spanish. It takes EFFORT to learn.

I happened to know all of the above before my arrival. So, you may ask, since it’s so inconvenient here, why come?

Consider this: Years ago, many immigrants to the US, such as Jews or Catholics from certain parts of the world came due to persecution or fears about Hitler and what he might do. You may not realize that some folks are persecuted right in the US. I am shocked that so many people are unaware of American persecution, and assume everything is wonderful, fair, and just there. That’s rather ethnocentric thinking if you ask me.

Of course persecution exists in the US. Children have a tough go of it because in many subcultures, children are deprived of basic human dignity and respect. Old folks, too, are persecuted in some subcultures. Older folks are often subject to ageism. If you appear old people assume you are deaf or demented and don’t bother asking. Too many assumptions are made and the result can be disastrous.

If you think our laws make the US free of discrimination against anyone with dark skin, know right now that this is NOT TRUE. Some areas are worse than others, but this discrimination runs rampant. Even though it’s not legal it’s regularly done. I have known many dark-skinned people who have relocated due to discrimination, or chosen very carefully where to live and find work or education.

My parents were similarly cautious when they came from New Jersey to Massachusetts. They were both 100% Ashkinazi Jew. I believe this was the year I was born, 1958. When they relocated from one town to another, they knew they’d again have to be cautious where to settle.

People with mental disorders are regularly discriminated against. The worst discriminators are those that professionally treat these difficulties, believe it or not. A lot also depends on “diagnosis,” which is for the most part arbitrary and changeable, especially with the passage of time. You may have the diagnosis “depression” for ten years and then suddenly you switch doctors who will then give you their own pet diagnosis. Or, after a decade or two, you end up with a different Diagnosis of the Day. A doctor who treats, for instance, “somatoform disorder” will see it in every patient that approaches them. A doctor who has done research, for instance, in “poor sleep hygeine” will assume that any patient who comes to him complaining of insomnia has bad habits and may not look into further causes.

Patients who are medication-seeking, say, for painkillers, seek out doctors who readily assume the patient is in great pain. Of course, dentists are a easy source of painkillers because most dentists assume your teeth hurt like hell even if they don’t. Pain can’t be measured by scientific testing that I know of. Same with something like “depression” or “anxiety.” Nowadays it’s very easy to fake anxiety (on purpose or inadvertently) and walk away with a prescription.

I myself left due to persecution. I HAD a mental diagnosis, or should I say, several, and couldn’t get away from these except to relocate and establish myself elsewhere. I had the option of moving to various ststes in the US but every attempt I made either fell through, didn’t pan out, was too expensive or impractical or otherwise turned out to be a yucky arrangement. It seems to me still that anyone with a psych history has an awfully hard time with discrimination wherever they go in the US. If the psych history is visible it’s even tougher. For instance, if you have Tardive Dyskinesia you will have a frightful time trying to get a job or housing, or find companionship, never mind the practical difficulties that this terrible movement disorder causes. TD is caused mainly by antipsychotic medication. I am lucky that I don’t have TD!

What I knew would happen has happened. I now live in a wonderful apartment, far nicer than I had in that inhumane place where I used to live. I have privacy and this is a place of dignity as well. There are no gossipy neighbors sitting by the door all day discussing who walks past them leaving or entering the building. I am not packed in here like a sardine. I CONTROL the heat. It’s cold out and I can choose to make a fire or not. No one “monitors” what the temp is in here or tells me I don’t deserve to have my home at any temp I’d like. I’m amazed! It’s about 60 in here right now. When I choose to do so, I’ll make a fire. Right now I’m holding off.

It’s true that almost everyone doesn’t have a dishwasher or washing machine. Dryers are almost nonexistent here. We hang our clothes in the sun or by the fire. Considering the very high humidity, it takes forever for anything to dry. Anyone coming here, in my opinion, if they love “instant” anything won’t adapt well. Certain commodities you just can’t get or are surprisingly costly. Other things are dirt cheap or free that may cost a fortune in the US. Clothes and food are easy to come by, for instance. Cookware such as pots and pans appears expensive unless you know where to shop for it. My friend says everything you buy here breaks down because, she says, “They get cheap stuff from China.”

I don’t miss “convenience” at all. I didn’t even have “convenience” anyway in the US cuz I lived in poverty. I had no medical care or the care was abusive or forced, so it wasn’t care but imprisonment. I hear the medical care here is excellent and anyone can access it if absolutely needed. I find the inconveniences here rather minor compared to what I was up against as person with known and assumed “mental disorder” with no “resources” or “family support.” Not only that, but the world in the US was designed for car drivers and not folks on foot. Here, the opposite it true! Many places are easy to get to on foot or bus and difficult or inconvenient to try to drive to.

The world is based on logic here. There’s no pervasive religiosity or superstition. If you are cold, put on a jacket or go to warm place or drink something hot or build a fire. I doubt taking a pill will be a good long-term solution to feeling cold or hungry, or being out of work. It’s shocking how easily a person out of work in the US will end up being given pills to solve their unemployment or poverty. Not logical but that’s what’s done nowadays.

Is the saying on the Statue of Liberty now a lie? Think about it.

Enough said.


Feedback and comments welcome!