Staying Connected or Letting Go?
There was a really interesting comment made a few days ago about "letting go" and just forgetting about the politics in one's previous country. It was a very interesting take on things and I wanted to take the opposing position.
One of my majors in college (I had 2) was Political Science. I use to be really interested in government, the inter workings of it all... Now, I really don't care what happens in the USA with politics. I don't follow it, I don't watch the news about it and you know what? I really don't care. Actually it's refreshing not to know or really care what is going on with the politics in the USA.
Expat Participation in Politics
One of the things I plan to do before the next presidential election is to register at the U.S. Embassy here in Buenos Aires to vote. I do still follow politics in the USA and even though I'm not living there, I still feel a strong connection with the country. Now, granted, I haven't been living here in Argentina as long as the reader who made this post, but I don't think my views will change.
I still find myself reading the New York Times online to keep updated about what's going on in the USA. I'm probably better informed about what's happening in the USA than most of the people living there. I'm curious as to what makes an expat lose interest in his country of birth. Living in the southwest United States, I spoke many times with Mexican professionals who were living in the U.S. and most of them still voted and kept abreast of politics in Mexico.
Crossing the Threshold
The reader has mentioned to me in the past that he probably will never return to the United States. I haven't yet crossed that mental threshold. I'm happy with Argentina for now (and for the immediate future, as I just signed a 2-year lease), but I haven't made the decision never to return to the USA. Who knows, someday in the future I may go back. I wonder whether there is a difference between expats who have made the decision to stay for good versus expats who maybe just want to spend a few years abroad.
Right now, I'm not sure which category I fit into yet. However, I do still feel a strong connection with the USA and I like to be informed about what's going on there. I still get very upset when bad things happen in the U.S. and during Katrina, back in late August, I had CNN running the entire time I was at work. I felt a lot of trauma by what was going on there... the same thing I felt on September 11th.
It was a different kind of trauma than what you feel when a disaster happens in another country. You feel more connected, more hurt by it. I haven't reached the point yet where I can see a disaster happen in the USA and feel the same thing for a disaster that happens in Pakistan. The U.S. still feels "close" to me and I'm still concerned about what happens there, much more so than some other random country.
I wonder how other expats feel about this issue. Do you still feel a closeness with your country of birth or do you feel you're able to ignore it to some extent?