In Mad Men season 5, Don Draper’s secret affairs are for once replaced by more realistic scenarios, such as the troubles of poor Lane Pryce during his time as a British expat in 1960s New York…
Home is where the heart is
When moving abroad, keeping one’s “home culture” can be an important part of the expatriation process and in the video, Mr. and Mrs. Pryce are perfectly exemplifying their different needs and expectations in keeping this home culture alive; classic expat behavior for both the individual and couple.
Nationalism – the “devotion and loyalty to one’s own nation” tend to become quite significant for the expat due to several psychological reasons: it adds familiarity, identity and essentially a sense of home in an environment that is completely new. By keeping one’s home culture and national identity alive, the expat is creating a world that combines the old and new home. It eases the sometimes tireless process of expatriation; of making sense of a culture that is different. However, keeping one’s home culture should be an addition to the life abroad, not a replacement. One of the most crucial steps of successful expatriation is integration, which is tremendously important, as it will help the expat to easily navigate and adapt to the new surroundings. Cultural intelligence is therefore one of my tips for a successful move abroad; to understand the cross-cultural intersection and being able to combine multiple national identities. In my perspective, expatriation and integration do not require you to completely change yourself, but rather adapt to the cultural environment you are a part of. By doing this, you will find (hopefully) positive changes within yourself and your mindset, which I believe is one of the greatest gifts of being an expat.
“In the midst of a mezzy divorce with Great Britain”
The need for surrounding oneself with the familiar sometimes depends on the degree of integration. If you’ve watched previous episodes of Mad Men, you might remember that Mrs. Pryce has never been fond of the American culture and she terribly misses England, whereas Mr. Pryce has successfully settled into the American life. She clearly does not feel at home and it is understandable that she has the urge to bring a sense of England into her life. She is dying to spend time with “other immigrants like them” and she is convinced that it will do her husband good to see friends and enjoy something as British as going to the pub. Unfortunately, Mr. Pryce feels the opposite and would do anything to avoid being affiliated with the life he left behind. Mr. Pryce does not regard these “other immigrants” as friends and he doesn’t recall enjoying going to the pub, when he was back in England either. Neither of them seem particularly in balance; one is overly nationalistic and the other is almost anti nationalistic. Regardless of one’s need and stand to this, couples who are expatriating together often find themselves in this dilemma (and other), because they are suddenly faced with challenges different from when they were home.
Sporadic nationalism – using our origin strategically
Still questioning if Mr. Pryce is faking it or actually enjoying himself, it does, however not take long before we see him dressed in Union Jack, cheering and singing ‘God Save the Queen’ with fellow Brits at the pub. “A good day to be an Englishman”, he says. Now I must admit, Mr. Pryce is not the first to use sporadic nationalism. I too can recall being dressed in the Danish national flag at a bar in Australia during World Cup in 2010 – and there have certainly been other situations, where I’ve proudly worn my reds and whites to symbolise the pride of my origin. Needless to say that I immediately took it off after losing that night, which clearly shows how expats can be rather strategic about the use of national belonging. Regardless of one’s motive to celebrate your own national origin or take on others (example: I became a great footy fan in Melbourne, which is essential in the integration into Melbournian society – luckily i LOVED it), these celebrations are often a way to become a part of a community, which will make you feel home where ever you are in the world – and in this relation, nationalism can become a strategic asset. It will quickly get you a network, which is a crucial survival tip for expats. Be sure to make friends with expats from other countries than your own and connect with anyone who is in your situation and can relate to the emotional and practical challenges that you are facing. It will not only give you a sense of adaptation, it will potentially also give you some life long friends – and if you’ve been strategically choosing them, you will always have world wide accommodation when you go traveling in the future 😉