Expat Rescources

Expatitis: Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full..

Some of the Westerners who come to Laos to live and work come here with unrealistic expectations. They have been here on holiday and expect that life in Laos will be totally free of frowns.

Most often they are in for a rude awakening and that awakening often turns them into cynical, bitter, angry whiners who see themselves as victims. They are miserable and they frequently make others miserable. The reason for this is that they acquired a disease we will call Expatitis and any depression or problems they tried to escape are exacerbated.

One of the primary symptom of this problem is unhappiness, which usually manifests itself in extreme and irrational anger and often depression. In addition to the very frequent use of swear words in association with Laos or Lao people, the person uses the following kinds of words very frequently: cheat, lie, steal, irresponsible, stupid, backward, lazy and corrupt. Sarcasm is an often-used tool as is mocking Lao people as well as expats who like Laos.

If you haven’t moved to Laos yet, you should understand quite clearly that Laos has its share of problems. Those problems and the solutions to them are usually different to the problems and solutions in your home country.

The Western set of values often doesn’t apply here in South East Asia and in Laos particularly. There is nothing wrong with building your own little piece of home in your new country if that is what you want. The problem is when your home values start invading the lives of Lao people who do not want them.

We Expats do not all have the same set of values but whatever values we hold, the likelihood is they are different to those held in Laos. We seem to have an ingrained belief in our own rightness. We do not easily accept other nation’s cultures or values. We expect them to change to be more like us. It is an issue about which we need to be careful when living in another culture. We do not need to lose our own identities and values but we do need to find a way to integrate them into our lives without smothering the local culture or offending local people.

So if you are already here in Laos, try to hang out with positive people; those who are happy and enjoy living in Laos.  Good supportive, non-negative, non-Lao bashing friends can make a big difference.

Avoid negative people. Find people you can talk with about assorted problems without whining.

If you already suffer from the idea that Laos and Lao people have victimized you and you are a whining machine, there is only one possible cure.  Go back where you came from.  Maybe then you will realize what a great place Laos is and be able to come back and be happy.


Source: This essay is based on two different articles on Expats living in Thailand