In 2015, the United Nations reported that more than 244 million people live in a country that differs from the one they were born in, and there’s no reason to believe that number has done anything but grow since then.
People move for various reasons, but some of the top reasons include the cost of living, employment opportunities, and safety concerns.
Optional reading: Seven Reasons People Decide to Move to Another Country
For instance, a U.S. citizen might choose to move to Mexico after retiring since the comparative cost of living is lower. On the other hand, someone from Honduras might decide to move to the US because of better employment opportunities and safety concerns in their home country.
An increasing number of emigrants are spouses of deported immigrants. So because Sally married Jose from Guatemala after meeting in the United States, when Jose is deported, Sally and their three children become emigrants to Guatemala. Sally may have never had the intention to move to Guatemala, but circumstances beyond her control have necessitated it.
Let’s look at some of the terminology associated with leaving one’s country of birth.
An emigrant is a person who leaves their own country in order to settle in another.
An immigrant is a person who lives in a foreign country.
An expatriate (ex-pat) is a person who lives outside their native country.
A voluntary exile is a person who is voluntarily absent from their country.
A displaced person, asylum seeker, or refugee is a person who is forced to leave their home country because of war, persecution, or natural disaster.
A migrant is a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions.
An economic migrant is a person who moves to another country to find an improvement in living standards or job opportunities.
An existential migrant is a person who moves to another country for a reason besides economic or safety issues.
A snowbird or sunbird is a person who leaves the country of birth to live temporarily in an area with better weather conditions.
Optional reading: Emigration, immigrant, expatriate, voluntary exile, displaced person, asylum seeker, refugee, migrant, economic migrant, existential migrant, snowbird/sunbird, renunciation of citizenship
Which of these definitions matches your current situation? You might find yourself in more than one category, and that’s perfectly fine. However, it is essential for you to look at what type of foreign-born member of society you are as you define yourself in your new surroundings.
Your self-concept effectively determines what you will do or choose not to do at any given moment in time. It, therefore, influences your inherent potential to do, be, have, and achieve your desired objectives. How you define yourself as an emigrant often profoundly impacts how you adapt to your new life.
Optional reading: What exactly is a self-concept and how does it impact your life?