Expatriate vs. Gurbetci

I’m inclined to believe that the Turkish equivalent for ‘expatriate’ is ‘gurbetci’. Those who know both English and Turkish would probably agree with me. Both terms, broadly speaking, refers to a person who is residing (either temporarily or permanently) in a foreign country. The next crucial question then is the following: who exactly is qualified as being a ‘gurbetci’ from a Turkish language perspective, especially if they are  ‘third culture kids’, since they are not born and raised in the same country as their parents (i.e. heritage country). Turks living abroad are often automatically labelled as ‘gurbetci’, but I think this term fits better with the first generation, but not with the second (i.e. the offspring of the first generation) or third generation as they are ‘third culture kids’.

Now imagine you were born and raised in England and you belong to a neighbourhood in England and all your close friends know the ‘REAL’ you. Now also imagine this person moving to Turkey, which is where their parents were born and raised. Are they now Gurbetci or were they already a gurbetci as their parents while in England? I think the meaning of this word needs to be redefined and not to be used so freely or widely with all Turks living abraod, as the sense of ‘home’ or ‘place of belonging’ is somewhat different between the first and second/third generation. Moreover, might the first generation also feel like a gurbetci when they decide to move back to their homeland say 40 years after their departure?  Now this really is some food for thought…


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