An Expat Confuses Fellow Expats

This post is old, so what you see here may not reflect my current opinion and mindset, certain information may be outdated, and links may be broken.

My friend D and I are more or less Korean-American. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say we both grew up in Korea for the majority of our lives. We both have no accent per se because we attended an American school in Seoul. We’re as American as we can get, but we just don’t look . . . American.

Cue Saturday. We decided to go to a Middle Eastern restaurant called Arabian in Itaewon. Our host was a fellow expat from some Middle Eastern country. We conversed in English with him — though he first thought we were Korean. The following conversation (with additional paraphrasing) occurred:

Host: Where are you from?
D: Basically here.
Host: What? *frowns in confusion*
Me: We’re from here.
D: Yeah, we’re Korean-American, but we mostly grew up here.
Host Oh? *still looks confused*
D: We’re more or less affiliated with the army base . . .
Host: Oooooh. *seems to understand and walks away*
Me: It’s interesting how we confuse the expats here.
D: I know!
Me: That expression on that guy’s face was hilarious, though. Then again, I don’t exactly blame him for being confused.
D: At my workplace, we were all comparing where we were from. There was one from Canada, one from New York, and then there’s me: from here.
Me: *laughs*

Ah, the story of our lives. Who do we not confuse?


  1. Do you have an American accent? I have a British accent (which I chose) and I confuse the hell out of people no matter where I go, too. XD

  2. My Taiwanese friend confuses the hell out of people because she has been everywhere. She has been an exchange student since high school and she has studied on every continent except Africa, South America, and Antarctica. She’s currently an international student here and she then goes on classes abroad through my university. We went to Switzerland together last summer. Last quarter, she was in South Korea studying at Yonsei University.

  3. Francesca Maggi on

    Great post!

    I thought you & your fellow expats might get a kick out of posting to our new Open Source Blog — we want to hear all of the embarrassing stories we all have when speaking a foreign language – called, Up Your Bottom

    All the best to you in your work —

    Lisa R. Tucci
    Linguality Series Editor

  4. hehe, opposite happens to me in China. Though I look Chinese, they realize I’m American and assume I don’t know the language. They then talk about me in Chinese within hearing distance. Quite a surprise for them when I talk back to them in Chinese XD

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