On Being a Guest in a Foreign Land 6


Monkey Selfie

Self-portrait by the depicted Macaca nigra female, via Wikimedia Commons.  Thanks to David Slater, whose camera was used.

Last week a Venezuelan woman living in Panama made the serious error of calling the people of Panama “banana eating monkeys.” Within 24 hours, over 16,000 people signed a petition requesting her deportation. (NewsRoomPanama.com)

And who can blame them?  When you are not at home, you are someone’s guest.  When you are in a country which is not your own, you are also a guest.

Let us consider what is expected of a guest.  If you are an invited guest, then the underlying expectation is that you will provide interesting and perhaps entertaining conversation. You will contribute in some way. You are also expected, as are uninvited guests, to not damage the host’s belongings, and to NOT insult your host.  That’s the really big one.  Even if you attend a large, open-invitation gathering, the last expectation applies, and the rest is hoped for.

If someone came into your home and talked trash about your family and friends, snooted on how you had the place decorated, expressed disgust for the quality of your housekeeping or said “Ewww” on tasting the refreshments, do you think you might ask them to leave? Possibly you are too well-bred, but I probably would.  I might say something like, “If you’re so unhappy here, why don’t you just leave?”  In fact, if what they said was exceptionally rude, I might even physically escort them out.

Come on, my saintly reader, you know you would at least want to, as well. Sure you would.

So why do you suppose so many people move to a foreign country and then proceed to complain bitterly, vocally and publicly about what they find?  Where does this sense of entitlement come from?  These are the same people who, in their own countries, would not dream of walking into a stranger’s home and tossing loud insults around.

Here in Panama I often hear my fellow “guests” complaining about various Panamanian ways of doing things.  At the heart of all the whining is the fact that this is not their home country, it’s not the same as their home country, and it never will be.  Neither do the Panamanian people whose country this is, want Panama to be like someone else’s home country.  You can’t blame them.  After all, Panama is THEIR home country.

And we are their guests.  At a MINIMUM, guests should not insult their hosts, don’t you agree?

My own feeling is that life is too short to spend it angry with things you cannot control and cannot change.  There have been a few times in my life when I really didn’t like what was happening in my environment, and I saw no options for adjusting it.  My choice then was to vote with my feet (i.e., I left).  My motto is that any situation I, personally, create in my life, I can un-create.  And, frankly, I think those who stayed when I chose to leave were happier that I found my joy elsewhere.  It’s not much fun being around someone who is miserable.

What do YOU think?  Should expats who find they cannot adjust to the ways and thinking of their new homes:
1) Stay?
2) Stay and insult their hosts with constant criticism?
3) Stay, but keep their mouths shut?
4) Or consider repatriating?


6 thoughts on “On Being a Guest in a Foreign Land

  • Jackie Lange

    They need to leave if they are not happy here. Better yet, come to Panama for a trial run before you make the big decision to move here. Test the waters. Get informed!

  • 4sarge

    Wow, 4) Consider repatriating? Some people are Never Happy regardless of the Circumstances. Age, Health, Depression and or maybe just unhappy with Poor Decisions that they have made

  • Sunnymikkel

    They should leave, it will only get worse for them, it will eat at them and they will literally get sick from the constant knawing at their gut, all the things that get them riled up! If they did not have an ulcer, they soon will.

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