Expat Gripe of the Month?

Everybody who lives abroad has complained about it at some point. Complaining is something everybody does, for a variety of reasons, and with varying degrees of justice and skill.

Much bandwidth has been occupied here in Korea with expat complaints, and many K-bloggers have attempted to explain the complaining itself, including this excellent taxonomy of expat complainers published by Roboseyo some years ago and which still rings true today.

Lately I’ve been curious about some of the things that expats in other countries complain about, and I came across an interesting piece in ScreamThe Kurdish Globe entitled An Expat’s View on Kurdistan: Complainers.

As residents of a self-governing region that has recently had to rebuild its infrastructure, absorb thousands of displaced people, fend off ISIS, and deal with collapsing states on its doorsteps, surely Kurdistan’s expat community would have some interesting bones to pick, no?

Turns out that the writer is addressing himself to Kurdistani complainers and imploring them not to abandon their country in these trying times. Any expats in need of a little shot of perspective can read it here.

And have a swell day, wherever you are!




  1. Gesendet über Yahoo Mail für Android

    Von:”Outside Looking In” Datum:So., 12. Apr. 2015 um 8:49 Betreff:[New post] Expat Gripe of the Month?

    John Bocskay posted: “Everybody who lives abroad has complained about it at some point. Complaining is something everybody does, for a variety of reasons, and with varying degrees of justice and skill. Much bandwidth has been occupied here in Korea with expat complaints, an”

  2. That was a great read, thanks for sharing! I got asked a lot why I didn’t want to live in America, and my responses would vary. Sometimes, it would be a complaint, which usually left the person who asked me confused, since the common view is that America is a great place to live.

    I’ve tried to work on that. I grew tired of expats in Korea complaining consistently about their lives over there, when it was such a comfortable situation. When I realized I did the same thing, but about my homeland, it was an eye opener! Better to try to attempt to make a positive change than to sit around and complain all day.

  3. From my experience, Americans in the States haven’t been generally well-disposed toward criticism from Americans who have left. I’ve been accused over the years of “rubbing it in their faces” or “hating the U.S.” merely for expressing criticisms which probably would not have received a second thought if I had made them while still living there. I don’t know if that happens to you, but it’s something to watch for.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. Complaining is part of human nature, most might do it more often and for various reasons. Sometimes I gruble directly about those that complain. I’m still complaining regardless of what I’m complaining about. Luckily, I’m originally from the Philippines and have called the US my home and have a true appreciate on what oppurtunities it has given me and my family. For those who have visited Manila, it is still considered a third world country. I miss the US, but hope that my adventures will take me all over the world.

    1. I agree – I think it has to do more with certain people; they’re going to complain wherever they are.

      I was in the Philippines some years ago and had a great time. I hope to visit again someday.

  5. People do complain too much. I work really hard at limiting my complaints because otherwise I find myself being too negative in other aspects of life. Also people hate listening to others complain…or I certainly do lol.

  6. Everyone does it for sure, but it’s important to keep a positive perspective!
    I will say the last time I was in the US, someone actually left the table when I said the healthcare system in Korea was way better than America. Americans for sure don’t take criticism well, but I think criticizing your home country is a true sign that you care about it.

  7. I notice this quite a bit and wonder how much of the complaining is due to general unhappiness with one’s station in life. Most times, it just seems to be for attention or that someone just gets off on starting arguments that give them a sense of feeling superior to others.

    I see so much arguing on the internet and really wonder what the point is of airing your grievances, if you’re then going to just argue with whoever comments or decides to join in.

    Yeah I get annoyed with some things here but hey, that’s life! This place is only going to be as good as you make it. Comparing it with the situation in Kurdistan certainly made me think about some things because there are certainly worse places we could be living.

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Very interesting! I see the complaining a lot. I’ll be honest, I can sometimes be the one complaining, particularly with friends who vent right along with me about things. I think it comes with being an expat anywhere in the world and learning to deal with a culture that is just so different. However, there is a difference between growing pains and just plain negativity, stereotyping, and rudeness.
    I see where the article is coming from, although I personally would not take on the challenge of trying to change things in a country which is not my own that I don’t have a strong hold to. As much as I’ve enjoyed my experience in South Korea and I wouldn’t take the decision to move here back, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t have to be in love with a place just because it’s different than where I come from.

  9. Right. You don’t have to love it, I suppose you just need to find it agreeable enough. The bottom line is that Korea is a very liveable place for Westerners and it gets only more so as time goes by.

    THanks for the comment!

  10. Interesting post. I’ve bookmarked your further reading links and will be reading them once I have a chance this week. Unfortunately, Korea and I don’t mesh too well lately and I’ve been catching myself complaining a little too much. I have to remind myself sometimes that I’ve been generally well-welcomed into a country that’s not my own. I always find it interesting to hear what people think of my own country when they are expats. Great read!

  11. Very important for people to bring up this point, so thank you. We all fall into ruts, just like we did back in out home countries of what should operate differently and how our ideas are supreme to those of the current leadership. It’s an easy trap to fall into and I really do thank you for posting this. It is important that people retain perspective on their environment and realize that it does not revolve around Subject Me. There are much more trying, disorganized, and often dangerous situations to be found. Korea has many faults, but show me a country that doesn’t. I think that bloggers often use their daily gripes and complaints to make another weekly post when they could have surely gone and seen something incredible that this country has to offer and write about that. Unfortunately, as is evident by every popular news outlet, conflicts and complaints create controversy and result in viewership.

    Really, thank you for posting this reminder.

  12. As all the other commenters mentioned, complaining is something that happens anywhere you are. I think I’ve noticed a lot more in Korea but my thoughts are that many people come here who haven’t traveled much before. It’s pretty easy to get work and they have no idea what to expect from living in a foreign country. I hope more people read your post and think about how important it is to keep some perspective in your daily life. Also, nobody likes a negative nancy!

    1. I think that’s probably true. I suspect it also has to do with the fact that most of the people you meet in Korea came here to work; they didn’t come because they wanted to live in Korea. Some fall in love with it; some manage to adjust and take the good with the bad, but there remain more than a few who don’t like it and stay because they’re making money and it’s hard to walk away, though they find little else to like about the country.

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