There are over 200 million ‘Global Citizens’ (Expatriates) worldwide who are living in the third culture zone, and the number of Global Citizens continues to increase. But what exactly defines an expatriate? And how do expatriates differ from the rest of the population?
An expatriate or ‘global citizen’ is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing. In many cases, the term expatriate refers to people that do not plan to reside in their new country permanently and normally retain their citizenship for practical purposes. In this strict sense, Global Citizens differ from ‘immigrants’ who usually plan to reside permanently in a new country and acquire permanent citizenship there.
A global citizen is usually someone who is at home in any country; who has the sensitivity and skill necessary to succeed in a culturally diverse global environment. A person able to live in a third culture zone. Third culture is a sociological term used to describe a person who has spent significant time in another culture, thus incorporating their birth culture with a second culture and creating a third culture.
Global Citizen Profile
When talking about expats as a group, it is important to bear in mind that there are large differences between one country and another.
However, we can generalize that compared to the average, expatriates tend to be more highly educated, have a higher than average income and face some very specific challenges when moving abroad (like learning the local language)
The Global Citizen community in Munich Germany is comprised of international business executives and technicians, members of the diplomatic corp/consulate personnel, scientists & inventors, University professors and students, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)/Not For Profit Organizations (NPO’s) staff, and NATO and European Union professionals representing over 180 countries.
Greatest Challenges for the Global Citizen
Expatriates moving to a new country are faced with a wide range of challenges, including the move itself, the search for accommodation and the integration into a new society.
Though the move to a new country might seem a great experience at first, many global citizens have a hard time getting things done in the beginning and adapting to their new life abroad. A major move introduces new stressors such as:
Culture shock for the whole family – i.e. suddenly not being able to understand not only the language, but all the subtle signals in the environment about the way things are done (like the strict laws on recycling, trash and compost disposal in Germany).
Separation from one’s familiar support system – extended family, friends, community activities etc.
For the employed spouse, the corporate culture shock associated with having to adjust to German or European business practices which may bewilder, frustrate or anger him/her.
For the accompanying spouse, 90% of whom are women, the necessity of structuring a whole new life for him or herself. This is often particularly distressing if that spouse has given up a job or career to make the move possible (the Trailing Spouse Syndrome), and becomes financially dependent on the partner.
For the parents, the stress level can double quickly as the concern for their children being able to adjust to a new school, culture, language, and friends consumes each day.
The life of a Global Citizen is exciting yet challenging. For many they live and work in a country for 3-5 years, and then they are transferred to a new country, having to adjust to a new culture and work environment once again. When they are in their home country, they are just visiting. While they are living in their country of employment, they feel isolated, detached from the local culture. As they move about in this ‘Third Culture Zone,’ the church rarely has the opportunity to reach out to them.
With over 340,000 expatriates in Munich, the need for English-speaking third culture churches is immense. Partner with us in bringing Christ to the Global Citizen community in Munich and BEYOND! Read more….