The Five Stages of Expat


There’s a famous poster entitled Beer! with the tagline: “Honour your ancestors, they drank it too.”


Showing the evolution of the human from the stooped great ape, or to get technical, australopithecus, through to fully-fledged, hairless homo sapiens with a large beer belly, through each of the six images you see humans in their various stages of physical development.


While we at Word don’t envisage the evolution of the expat in the same way, there are certainly different stages in the transformation from rosy-eyed, slightly green newcomer through to hardened lifer who has been in-country for over a decade. What changes is outlook, experience and perhaps most importantly, integration into life in Vietnam.


The following stories include a series of profiles of people who have lived in this country for anything from a few months to over 20 years. We’ve tried to cover the full range, from digital nomads, and the son of an ambassador, through to returning Viet Kieu, business people and those who first came to Vietnam before the collapse of this country’s once most important ally, the Soviet Union.


We’ve also taken a look at why people arrived in Vietnam in the first place and the problems, in particular when you’ve got ‘baggage’ in tow, of trying to leave.


Whether you end up with a protruding gut or not — and we know many do — is certainly up for debate. But what is clear is that if you want worldly experience, or want to have the t-shirt, so to speak, staying in your home country won’t give it to you.


Now, as for moving overseas to countries like Vietnam? Well, you might find you’ve got something to write home about.

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