I used to think I knew what expat meant.

I now know I didn’t.

Specifically I knew what expat meant but I didn’t know what it meant to be an expat.

Now at least I have some experience.

My first job out of university was overseas but this now no longer fits my expat definition. Firstly I had nothing much to lose and hadn’t found my feet, and secondly the culture and language were pretty similar to where I came from.

I remember some 20 odd years ago being mystified by a friends girlfriend not being able to adapt in the move from New Zealand to Japan. It now makes more sense and, even though she wouldn’t know of my bewilderment, I apologise for my hasty and ill-informed (not informed) judgement.

Which is why now if I had my dictatorial way i woul dhave an education system like this:

School – until 16-17 years of age
Work for 2-5 years
University 3-5 years (preferably with a major in Sociology, History, or The Classics)
Work for 3-5 years
Compulsory overseas assignment in a culture with a different history and different language to what you grew up with – for at least 2 years

…then whatever degree, work , country, you choose, for as long as you like.

Will this lead to well rounded more accommodating citizens spread through the world settling into their work or their final career selection at university at between 26 and 35 years of age?

Maybe, just maybe.

I’m not going to justify this now.

Over the next few posts you can connect with why I think this is a model to debate strongly.

How much more productive would our universities be (do we try to impart the most intense learning on people at a time they are probably least inclined to want to apply themselves? )?

How much better would our communities and societies be?

Have we got the treadmill on the wrong programmme?