When I heard the news that a scion of our school, the original impetus for Greta the Guru, was packing up and moving at the end of term, I was at a momentary loss. It felt like our community was losing it’s wise, information-rich Yoda. Then I got to thinking (always a dangerous prospect): when it comes down to it, the Star Wars universe is basically just a world full of intergalactic expats. Sure, they move between planets rather than countries, but substitute a heaven for an ocean, the Millennium Falcon for a Maersk Shipping container, and the same principles apply.
Here are nine expats you’re likely to meet in a galaxy far, far away.
Yoda, the all-knowledgable. The grande dame, Dowager Countess of your international galaxy. Yoda has been around so long no one remembers when she got there, she’s just always been there, sitting in a corner. Sometimes she talks in cryptic Yoda-talk, referencing a time long gone populated with strange names you don’t recognize, i.e., before your time. But she’s the one who’s got all the dirt on expats past, present, and possibly future.
Han Solo, the too-cool-for-school rebel. Han’s been around the galaxy a few times. No stranger to long-haul moves, Han’s used to moving at warp speed on short notice, or in the dead of night. A bit cock-sure, a bit swag-a-licious, Han comes across as a little aloof, but the teflon attitude is usually just a by-product of a life hopping from one place to the next. Han doesn’t get too close to others, because at the end of the day, leaving folks behind is tougher than you think.
Darth Vader, the evil head of HR. You know Darth, the one who wants you to move to Burundi. Tomorrow, in the middle of your kid’s senior year of high school. The one who needs your spouse on the ground in East Timor next week, which is Christmas. The one who seems to be lacking in any humanity in regard to moving small children, pets, and teenagers across borders and seas. Soulless, bleak, and an easy villain to hate.
R2D2, the fun expat from the country you can never remember the name of. You introduce them as Russian when they’re really Ukrainian, or Czech when they are really Slovakian. Azerbaijan? Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan? Tajikistan or was it Turkmenistan? Often their name is a confusing strings of letters you are not used to seeing together and so in your head, you develop a coded nickname. It’s not lack of caring as much as the fact R2 holds a passport from a country that didn’t exist when you were studying 8th grade World Geography.
Obi-Wan, the do-gooder. Obi-Wan is the expat who travels to places most of us have never heard or of have no desire to visit, all in the name of good. Usually attached to an NGO or other international organization, Obi-Wan packs up and heads her family to the deepest jungles and barren plains of places you vaguely hear about on the news–usually related to pandemic outbreaks and civil wars. A slight aura of virtue hangs above Obi-Wan’s head, but most of us happily allow it—because we’re glad it is her and not us.
Princess Leia, the spoiled expat. Chef, gardener, maid? Check. Check. Check. Leia has usually done at least one stint in Southeast Asia where household help is part of the contract. Sometimes Leia finds herself at a bit of loss when she’s posted someplace where the gardener doesn’t come with the lease. She also looks pretty damn good in a gold, lamé bikini. This is usually due to devoting her days to looking her best.
C3P0, the know it all. Whether c3 has been in six countries or one, this opinionated expat will insist there’s one right way to do things, from moving to assimilating, what to eat or dealing with local custom. Armed with books and articles and surveys and lists, C has processed all of this information and filtered it down to black and white, right and wrong. C is just waiting for someone to slip up to offer an “I told you so.” There’s little room for nuance in C’s bubble, but if you can stomach the sometimes righteous attitude, there’s a whole lot of info in there too.
Rey, the rookie. Rey vacillates between bug-eyed amazement and practiced nonchalance. Her first time out, Rey is desperate to experience everything but doesn’t want to seem too eager. She’s heard the stories, and only half-believes what life as an expat is like. But just because she’s young and green don’t sell her short. Dismiss the new girl and it’s likely you’re missing out on something special.
Boba Fett, the mercenary. Boba is the expat who takes postings based primarily on the money. Ruthlessly planning their global journey based on the exponential growth of their stock and retirement portfolio, the Fett family bounces from post to post chasing the cash. Hardship duty stations, war-zones, the far-flung corners of the globe. There aren’t many places Boba won’t go if the price is right.
I’m guessing whether your expat time has been somewhere cushy or in a country far, far from home, you’ll recognize a few of these folks from your own journeys, whether they are intergalactic or just plain intercontinental.
13 Comments Add yours
I love your musings. I so get it. I miss Copenhagen mostly for the adventurous people I met. It just isn’t the same in my current neighborhood who all pretty conventional. We find life frustrating there but miss the unknown of what a day in the Denmark will be.
We love it here too. But there’s plenty of fodder! 😉
Oh, there were so many of these it was embarrassing: R2 holds a passport from a country that didn’t exist when you were studying 8th grade World Geography. And then I had to get a job at the WHO where they expected me to be able to find Malawi AND Mali on the map. Did you know they’re not the same country?!?!?
I didn’t until my 30s, I’m sure!
Oh, I so love it. Now I will never look at people the same way again. They all have “face” attached when they speak!
Well, I made an effort to stay away from Chewbacca for that reason!
Very good and funny and yes true! 🙂
Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it!
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Fabulous post 🙂
Thank you so much!
So true, especially the heartless HR with their cryptic information and last minute decisions!
Ha. After Yoda, that one was the easiest. There’s always a Vader somewhere…
Love it Dina. I have a face to just about all of them, although my Vader isn’t in HR – but just as evil!! And I can’t imagine my Leia in that gold bikini!!! Keep on writing