Author: Carol

When Are Young Adults Born and Living Abroad?

When Are Young Adults Born and Living Abroad?

Beyond Borders: A Deep Dive Into the Nomadic Way of Life of Young Adults (Culture of Emigrants)

Many of us will never live outside of our home countries. Yet, it’s perfectly acceptable to spend the vast majority of our adult years not only abroad, but far from any country at all. This is what I call “crossing borders without borders.”

This article is the first part of a two-part collaboration with Lauren F. Wills and John V. Hester to explore what it means to be an emigrant. This piece was originally published in November 2014 in The National Interest, a publication covering a wide range of issues – from international relations to economic inequality.

The term “emigrant” denotes a nonwhite person who has left a country, primarily a region, in order to live and work in another jurisdiction. For young adults, “crossing borders” means getting the education and experience necessary to get a graduate degree, or to find a position outside one’s home country, and then “emigrating.” In some senses, these students become “non-citizens” of their home countries, able to move in with family members and even to move to another foreign country for short-term work, and return to their homeland as required.

Emigrating is a cultural act, and it is therefore a good idea to understand the motivations and the cultural underpinnings of this phenomenon. What does it mean to become an emigrant in general? And what drives young adults who are trying to leave their countries? What is their typical reaction to the thought of being separated from their families, and from their cultural origins?

In order to answer these questions, we will first examine what it means to be “born and live abroad,” and then examine the motivations of young adults who look abroad for life’s answers. Finally, we will discuss the phenomenon of emigration more broadly, and how it has changed over four different historical epochs, from ancient Greece to more modern times.

When Are Young Adults Born and Living Abroad?

According to the definition of international migration as described in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a young adult

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