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Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 7:14 AM

Couple years back, I worked with an EE that spent 3 years in Japan. He went for $ and adventure. But came back to the USA. I, myself, worked for a year in England as an ME. I went for love. That love lasted a year, conveniently as long as my visa. I came back to the US. There are those among you, who apparently write perfect English, but write from some other country; like Wal, and Andy Germany (I won't assume you two are American by birth, but I'm curious).

What is your story? Have any of you worked over a year abroad, somewhere other than your country of birth? Have you left your country permanently? If so, was that the plan? Did you go because it was an offer you couldn't refuse? Incredible money? Incredible adventure? Incredible love? Incredible sex? Incredible freedom? Did you have a choice? Did you return unexpectedly, or did you remain? Are you glad of your choices?

Part of the allure of CR4 is the international aspect; which is quite extensive. But I wonder how many of you emigrated. You've clearly brought something good to your new countries... at least for a while, if not permanently. Hopefully I'd left a little something good in England with the few designs I'd come up with while I was the visting Yank.

Eventually, I may retire out of country. Not sure. Are any of you planning on doing that? Let's hear from the expats, the travelers, and those that plan to settle elsewhere. What's your story?

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#1

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why did you move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 7:50 AM

What a good topic <subscribes>.

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#2

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why did you move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 8:38 AM

I'm from Lebanon but I never lived, studied or worked there for more than a year.

I suppose the reasons should be pretty obvious.

What can I say, I flow in the path of least resistance.

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#3

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 10:32 AM

Born and raised in the UK, I quit electronics and trained as a teacher in the UK, then worked in Botswana for two years (teaching electronics) on a contract. It wasn't incredible money but the living costs were very low and I was out of work at the time with no ties and a college debt. I had a good time but was homesick. Now I'm back in the UK back in Electronics (although I had fun in between times learning and instructing in the Electrical world) I would consider spending some retirement time (6 months / 6 months say) in China, the wife's birthplace. An unusual combination of places perhaps. I'm really glad I had the chance to do all of this but at 51, which should be considered young, the clock is ticking and I think I'll wait to be pushed before I jump. The other (often unspoken) consideration is health care. If I make it to draw a pension then full-time out of the UK is a bit of a stretch, and I remind myself it's pretty here. So much to see and a finite amount of time to see it in. I like the idea of going off somewhere but family adds inertia and I have more to lose.

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#4

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 10:40 AM

This is a curious topic... I am still a US citizen, but have not lived there since '98 when I received an offer to travel to south Mexico for what was then a six month project.

At the time I had some legal problems back up north and it seemed like a good way to hide from this BS, see something new and get a paycheck while I was at it. Then came the romance with the now ex-wife in Mexico, then came my current wife here in Mexico and the house and kids.

There is also the addiction to writing EXCEMPT on my W-2 and keeping the money I earn. I could not fathom the thought of going back to the US and needing to give someone else 30% +/- of my wages, not to mention the incentives that are always given to work abroad (although there is nowhere I would rather be)...

Since '98 I have sorted out my legal dilemmas, I work all over the world but always end up back home in Tabasco, Mexico. This year for work I have been to Amsterdam, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the US (for a stop over). The only place I have not enjoyed is the US stop over, just being in the LAX, seeing the typical US better than everyone attitudes and being scrutinized by everyone for a few hours was enough to last me a few years.

In my opinion the EXPAT way of life may not be for everyone but for those who enjoy the life, there is just no other option. To think of spending day and night, week in week out for months or even years doing the 9-5 thing just seems like a bad nightmare.

For what its worth....

Tim

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#5

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/09/2012 12:04 PM

Yes, I'm reminded of an Asimov robot short story where the robot runs round in a circle torn between two of the three laws, I feel like that robot (searches internet) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaround but stuck behind a desk and having to return to it daily. Wikipedia is great, I read that story back in the seventies but I can find from the article that my "allergy to danger is unusually high".

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#6

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 12:48 AM

Originally ex Oz

Worked and lived most everywhere there.

Then started doing away jobs in 90 then back then away,then back and away and away....

I've been living in Phnom Penh now for 15 years. I am now getting ready to go back to Oz for a short stint (money reasons only).

I'm now 51 too. Costs here are low even good medical. Boom and bust cycle is normal.

Biggest expense here was international school fees.

The bastards will make me wear shoes in Oz ....

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#7

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 1:03 AM

Working abroad is a once a life time experience but you must be lucky to end up in a good job,in a good,civilised country under a good employer. In mid-east there is no tax deductions but in some of those countries religious restrictions are severe and police not fluent in English language is another problem.

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#8

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 2:31 AM

I have always travelled a lot, the RN wa just part of that.

I settled down in southern Uk in 1973, got married in 76 and divoced in 80.

I ended up with 3 women making life untenable, my ex (no children), my mother and Margaret Thatcher, who was fighting the trade unions and there was no guarantee that she would win (she did, but some time later!).

The US company I was working for made an offer in 1981 to move to Germany that I could not turn down. I packed my bags and left and have never looked back.......

I met my now wife in 82, got married and now have two daughters (29 & 26) and a 1 year old grandson.....

....they will bury me here!

Sad part is that my excellent French has degraded somewhat, but I did learn German eelatively late for a language (my fourth language, I also learnt Portuguese in the RN but I have never used it since....)

I do remember meeting a work colleague in the UK (probably around 1977) who spent some time in Germany and it enhanced his career dramatically in the UK, so I had a good example to follow so to say.....

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#9

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 7:22 AM

I moved to Italy after a divorce to put an ocean between my violent ex and me. I spent almost three years there and enjoyed it immensely. I was able to travel throughout Europe and the Far East, teaching in over two dozen companies, getting involved in CEEES (was already a member of IEC, ISO, IEEE, and IEST), and got to see firsthand how other cultures treated testing and reliability. I could see how confusing specifications were to someone who speaks English as a second language, especially since they aren't always comprehensible to a native English speaker.

I planned on staying there the rest of my life but had visa issues. I had risen to the top of my field there and people knew me as "Miss Chris", but I came back to America and ended up tutoring, taking a paper route, and working as an office helper in a very small business. It took me a couple of years to get back into my field again and only part time at first. It was incredibly hard to go from being so respected and recognized to feeling like I just didn't fit, and I came back not knowing how much a stamp cost, that the state sales tax had been raised, and was amazed at stores like Sam's Club (because European stores tend to be very small).

It was an amazing experience being there, and it helped me both personally and professionally. Being immersed in another culture, rather than just visiting it, gives you so much more of an understanding on how people think, why they do what they do, whether you are an adaptable person or just really want things done your own way to stay in your comfort zone, and how well you can think outside your own box.

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#10

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 8:07 AM

Born in the USA i started working for a company 28 yrs. ago that had plants in Florida, Haiti and the Dom. Rep. I spent a week in each place going round and round. When they decided to move from the D.R. to Haiti i stayed in the D.R. and have been here ever since. I lost my leg in an accident 17 yrs. ago and in the past couple of years my right hand started to die due to lack of blood flow. Lost fingers then hand then arm almost up to shoulder. But i have no desire to return to the states. Being 60 and having to start all over again is not for me. 2 more years for my SS and i only work 5-6 hours a day.

I do live like a king with a 25 year old girl living with me and 3 or 4 other girls that take care of ALL my needs and desires.

Surely i will die here!

PS It had nothing to do with money.

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#11

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 3:57 PM

I started out in the UK, working for an American company, one of several that had opened offices there. This was in 1951, still early in the post war era. The European countries all had a shortage of dollars, Britain used all it could get it's hands on for annual payments to retire the lend lease and other loans. There was a need for oil refineries to replace the ones damaged or destroyed and American companies had the know-how, but American engineers and designers were paid in dollars! The solution was to open offices in London where the language was similar.

Move on to 1966, I was making very good money as a contract designer when I was offered a nine month contract in Philadelphia. I had done my two years for Queen and country in the Royal Engineers, so I thought I could survive nine months in the States. A large chemical company had started a huge upgrade of their plants and had sucked the area dry of engineering designers, the company that hired me, along with a hundred or so others, couldn't find people to handle their backlog so they got a government license to hire in the UK. We were given green cards and permanent residence status. When that job ended, I decided to try to work my way around the States, I got to Denver in 1968 but then the economy went south and nobody wanted contract labor. The only firm offer I got was back in Philadelphia so back I came.

A little before I came to Philadelphia originally, a young woman from Hull went to British Columbia. She then moved, for reasons I won't go into, to see her best friend from school who was now a nanny for a family just outside Phila. The English crowd made sure we met and we hit it off, married, bought a house and had three daughters. My wife is gone to cancer now, it was nearly ten years ago and I might have thought about retiring back in the UK, but my daughters are married and within 20, 30 and 45 minute drives and with six grandchildren that close, I had to stay here.

It looks as though I drifted into staying after the initial contract, but I had bumped into the class barriers in the UK, I understand they are still there but less obvious now. My mother had been a children's governess in one of the "Upstairs Downstairs" scenarios before she married my dad. She still deferred to the upper crusts, as she had been trained, and that annoyed me, made the system more obvious.

When I was there, I started out having one day a week to go to Westminster Tech. for my ONC. during that third year we got into statically indeterminate structures and i was so intrigued that I read books and picked people's brains, etc. On return from the R.E.s I signed up for night school to find that it would take three years to catch up with what I already knew; since it was only required that we could do the job, I quit school. I came to the states and all of a sudden, they became official paper conscious in the UK, that would have become a problem if I returned. It caught up here too, but I got around it by taking the exams and becoming a Licensed Professional Engineer.

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#12

Re: Expatriate Engineers? Why Did You Move? Did You Return?

07/10/2012 8:23 PM

Back when Hillary's husband got elected president, I was paying 57% of the money I earned to the government (Federal, State, and Social Security- double for self-employed, remember), and another 25% was going to an ex wife. With the socialists cementing their hold on national power, I just could not see myself continuing to work so hard to support others. So, I sold out and bought a sail boat. No idea where I was going or how long I would be gone. The anchor hooked in Panama- excellent climate, wonderful people, easy for an ex-pat to move in the business world (as long as you don't spend too much time hanging out with other ex-pats). I stayed mostly for the climate, married a local school teacher who has since gone on to get another college degree in Law, and now has the potential to keep me in a style to which I would like to become accustomed, should I ever grow tired of working...

Probably die here.

Oh, yes- born, raised and educated in the US (early life as an air force brat), seven years active military (no one can accuse me of being unpatriotic...)

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Andy Germany (1); AW (1); Chris Peterson (1); cwarner7_11 (1); DGCYS (1); HUX (2); passingtongreen (1); pnaban (1); PWSlack (1); Tim in Mexico (1); Wal (1)

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