Which word are you: expat or international?

Words matter. They have meanings but also connotations – they evoke feelings which influence how people think about a certain topic or person. No, this is not a philosophical monologue about language. But I do want to talk about two words: expat and international. Which one of the two are you? Before you answer this question, let me explain how the Dutch interpret them.

If you ask Dutch people to describe an expat, they will most likely tell you this is someone who comes from abroad to do some high-paying  job in the Netherlands (Amsterdam). The expat stays a few years and then goes off to do the same job elsewhere – usually somewhere more exotic. The expat lives in a huge house, is male and his wife goes out shopping with his credit card. They have children who attend expensive schools. They mingle mostly with other expats. Is this more or less you? Then you’re an expat. Enjoy your stay here.

An international (according to the Dutch) settles away from home because he/she is interested in other cultures, in adventures and meeting people from other parts of the world. The reason (s)he came to the Netherland was this really interesting job and/or the partner’s job. An international has a local contract, like any Dutch person and intends to stay for a long time (perhaps even retire here), learn the language and be part of the community. An international’s children go to a Dutch school and probably correct their parents’ Dutch.  Does that somehow describe your situation? Then you are an international. And I hope you live in Brainport Eindhoven and make lots of friends.

The words you use have meaning and influence. Who do you want to be? An expat or an international? Entirely up to you of course but the two words are not the same here.  

PS: Of course you should join Expat Spouses Initiative if you are an international spouse. And the Expat Center is your favorite one-stop shop where friendly people help you find your way in the region.


Monique Mols

Corporate Communications ASML



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