So what does it mean to be an American in London?
Over the course of the development of Expat Exchange, it has been interesting to encounter the various perceptions of what the expat experience should be. What it means to be an American in London can be a particularly pointed conversation. Expats, you'll find, often have some very strong opinions about these sorts of things - often to the point where they view their own chosen expat lifestyle as the only acceptable way to explore another country and culture.
The argument goes something like this:
London American Expat Purist - An American in London should do his or her best to avoid other Americans while living there. Spending all of your time with other Americans waters down the expatriate experience, and therefore, to really experience London and the UK, one should stick to spending time with the native populace. That means you should find an apartment in London that is in an area of the city that is just about devoid of every other American in London.
American in London Looking for Americans - Why are these people so uptight? The London American Expat Purists need to lighten up. A person is a person, and if you meet some great Americans while living in London, you should of course develop those relationships. What's more, it's fun to be an American in London and live in Kensington and Chelsea. Lots to do, and a lot of fun people to do it with!
Of course, for those that work in London, especially at a multinational corporation, you'll inevitably encounter people from all over the world, including Americans. So, it might be hard to avoid other Americans altogether, anyway.
However, the real question, of course, is what does each and every expat wants their expatriate experience to be? Like it or not, some expats are not that excited about the prospect of moving overseas. For them, finding a piece of home in their new location can be very helpful. For those expatriates that lavish in the expat experience, there is nothing better than leaving it ALL behind, especially anything that reminds them of home. And, of course, there are a lot of variations in between.
So where does that leave us? Basically, just respect other expats and their needs. Because when it comes to international living, one size does not fit all!
Talk about this more on our UK Expat Forum.