A few days ago I attended an Expat Fair in Amsterdam. It was full of interesting stands and workshops (and several others just more commercial). But one presentation in particular got me both laughing and thinking... Greg Shapiro is the American-Dutch comedian who gave his voice to Trump in the viral video 'America First, but Netherlands second', launched a while ago. During his short presentation/show at this Expat Fair, he mentioned how expats suffer from 'MND'. My first reaction was one of curiosity; what is this?! He explained: MND stands for 'Multiple Nationality Disorder' :)
Indeed, once you have the experience of living abroad for at least a couple of months, you will never again feel that you can fully integrate back into your own nationality. This gets even stronger, if you have lived abroad for several years and/or in multiple countries. Whether you want it or not, you will start carrying with you a bit of each place you have lived in.
Some also talk about the 'reverse cultural shock'. In the same way you will probably face some cultural challenges every time you move to a different country, there is a somewhat similar feeling whenever you go back to your home country.
Living abroad opens people to new experiences; it proves that you are up to the challenges, that you can adjust, be more open-minded, learn from what that country has that is different ... and even value more some of the things you had back home. You can make friends from all around the world, get rid of expectations from your original culture and re-invent yourself (We even have some workshops on that). You will forever carry all those experiences with you.
Initially, 'Multiple Nationality Disorder' might make you feel lonely, as you could think you no longer fit well into any specific national group. But the number of expats has been growing significantly over the past years and is foreseen to accelerate even more. The forecast from market research and consultancy firm Finaccord* is that in 2021 (just 2 years from now) there will be 87,5 million expats worldwide, representing more than 1% of worldwide population. This means there are almost 90 million people probably suffering from the same 'condition' as you. It is not surprising therefore to see so many expat groups and communities popping up all over the globe. Expats are their own tribe (which does not mean you will feel you want to be friends with all of them); but this is the most likely group where you will feel understood. Obviously, any 'local' with some international experience can also fit into this group. They are actually 'expats in disguise'...
If you recognise these 'symptoms of MND' or have other opinions about it, do share it with us below. I'd love to hear from you. The good news is that, like with most conditions, you don't need to get cured; you can just (happily) live with it! Enjoy your MND! :D
* July 2018, https://www.financialplanningtoday.co.uk/news/item/9023-global-expat-numbers-set-to-soar-to-87-5m-by-2021
Disclaimer: The expression 'Multiple Nationality Disorder' (MND) is a wordplay on the medical condition of 'Multiple Personality Disorder', a mental disorder better known today as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This article does not wish to imply that MND constitutes any type of medical condition or disease. MND is not a medical disorder. However, the indicators associated with MND are real and some may, under certain circumstances, refer to actual medical conditions, such as anxiety or phobias.
(First published on: 15 October 2019. Disclaimer added on: 7 August 2020.)