Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Big Reason Why Expats Repat

TechCrunch posted an interesting article earlier today called Beware The Reverse Brain Drain To India And China. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why someone would want to return their homeland after a certain amount of time in the United States, but I think the biggest reason is their ability to feel connected in the place they were living.

It's hard to move anywhere. When you show up in a new place, you don't have many (or any) friends, you don't know your way around, it's hard to find food that tastes like what you are used to, yada yada. You're most likely to pick a comfortable path and spend time around people of your own culture; there's a reason places like Chinatown exists in every major city. The more time you spend being comfortable the less time you spend learning how the area natives do things, which makes it harder to be socially connected to the general population.

Being able to advance in the workplace is hard, too. The further up the corporate ladder you try climb, the more you need to be socially savvy. It's hard enough to get a good job, now try doing it when you've got an accent and don't innately understand some important subtle social cues.

Discrimination in the workplace is pretty tough to deal with, too. As a 6'5" white guy from California living in California, I'll never fully appreciate what it means to be discriminated against, but I've heard hiring managers tell me things that make me realize immigrants will always have to fight harder to find opportunity. Try feeling socially connected to someone who hired you only because they couldn't find a qualified local and not because you were actually the most qualified.

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