Immigration is in my blood. Can expatriotism be genetic?

It’s been a stressful week.

Ok, I’m lying.

I’ve managed to ring in the New Year with a wonderful week here in Costa Rica at my dad’s house, mainly passing the time in a hammock overlooking the lush tropical garden with a view of the Turrialba Volcano behind it.view of Turrialba Volcano in the distance

I arrived in Costa Rica from Italy via a stop in London to see my half-brother and a stop in Dallas to stay with my mom for a bit. I know, it’s a tough life.

As I swing back and forth here, I wonder why everyone doesn’t do this. Distribute family around the globe and then hop around visiting them all. Come to think of it, it is strange that I have such a high percentage of expats in my family.

My dad himself is English, lived for a long time in the States, and now resides here in Costa Rica. My step-mom, American, also lives here. My half-brother spent a long time in Japan, and now lives in England with his expat Japanese wife. My half-sister is English, living in Northern Ireland with her expat English husband. My dad’s birth father had relocated to England from Ireland and eventually ended up in Australia, where the rest of my expat English-Australian uncles and aunts are. My other English aunt and uncle live most of the year in Cypress.

And that’s just living family. What about all of the generations before? That’s where the vocabulary gets confusing I suppose. When my mother’s Sicilian grandparents immigrated to America, I hardly think the notion of the “expat” even existed; they were “immigrants”. When her other Scottish-Canadian grandparents arrived in New England, however, were they also considered “immigrants”, even though they were relatively wealthy? Is it just me, or does the word “immigrant” only get used when describing those seeking a better life or escaping some hardship? And an “expatriot” is a snottier version – someone who had the luxury of choice in moving?


I’m just pondering.

I recently starting reading and transcribing the diaries of my 2nd great grandmother, who was born in Nova Scotia and moved to Boston in the late 1800s, so I suppose it’s got me thinking.

What do you think, dear reader?


13 thoughts on “Immigration is in my blood. Can expatriotism be genetic?

  1. That is a very interesting observation about the difference between an immigrant and an expat. Also, what an interesting family you have! I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but what you described in the first paragraph sure sounds nice.

  2. My Scottish mother was an expat in the US (working as a flight attendant) and ended up staying in the US because of my father. She had two uncles who moved from Scotland to Argentina. On my father’s side, I had a German great-great-grandfather who moved to the US on his own. My Italian and I now live in the Netherlands. So yes, I think it can end up hereditary. However, I think if you grow up in a multi-cultural home, it probably makes you more open to living elsewhere and wanting to experience other cultures. The concept is already normal.

    And on a cold day in the Netherlands, I’m wishing the relatives that moved to Argentina had stayed in touch with the family! 🙂

    • Yeah, you’re right. The concept was always normal, so it was always an option. Argentina! That sounds good. I haven’t distributed anyone to South America yet. Hmmm… who can I export?

  3. My grandfather left Finland for Australia when he was 19. He was alone and didn’t speak English. I think he was very brave. I travelled to Italy for the first time when I was 19, sparking a life long desire to travel. I had no idea all those years ago I would end up spending half my life in Italy. My son has inherited my interest in travel. He is hoping to do vendemia in Sicily this year.
    I wish I had asked my grandfather why he left Finland.

  4. All my family are still in the philippines except my eldest sister who work in saudi arabia. Filipinos is fond of migrating too. My italian husband and I live in france now. My husband noticed he moved every 10 yrs of his life. We plan to move to australia if we continue to battle with the french language. Everyday is a struggle though my husband work with english langauge it is still a problem everyday communicating.

  5. What a long trip. For me, that would be very tiring. But at least you were able to see your parents and sibling. “Am happy for you. As I see, you have a very colorful life. Anyway, I like your wit and your blog, so much. Oh, and I also have just recently found an old diary of my late grandmother but I was not able to read it yet as I am so busy these past weeks.

  6. I think you are right! The immigration really is in your blood especially if we follow the story of your family. I think that you are really lucky because you have the ability to feel home anywhere in the world. I am going to move next week and I am ready with the packing and everything but I am still worried about a lot of things. I guess that your head is not full of crazy thoughts like mine while moving in another country.

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