Expat Dictionary, word of the month: Netpat noun /net’pæt/:  an expat communicating with fellow expats and/or seeking support, advice and possibilities linked to expat life on the Internet.

Please note that the explanation says nothing about desperate expats, wives or others, quite simply because the word has nothing to do with being desperate. Not as long as it is a supplement to and not a substitute for real life. It can be such a valuable supplement too. Netpat activities can bring:

online worldFriends. The net is a global meeting place, also for expat groups – of the same nationality, in the same country or other formulas – all spread across the world yet all in the same place with the same questions. How do I do things in this country, what about health care, jobs, courses and schools? How do I get from A to B? Can I drink the water and where can I get the best coffee? I feel lost, I feel lonely, I wanna go home, but what if home has changed while I’ve been away or I have changed?

There are people out there in cyberspace to give answers and a virtual shoulder to cry on. And sometimes it’s easier to open up when you’re not face to face. Talking to somebody you feel you know quite well yet haven’t met creates a safe distance. One of the best things about this way of socializing is that you can meet and mingle with people you never would have known or bothered to get to know in real life, and it may be surprisingly rewarding and refreshing.  These people can become a safety net and a network. Even friends, whether they stay virtual friends or you actually meet in real life and hit it off. Online chemistry at work.

Change. In the positive sense of the word, and change is, in the bigger perspective and in the long run, generally a positive word. Change as in life taking a slightly new turn, maybe a slightly surprising turn, and for netpats obviously somehow a virtual turn, related to the possibilities offered by and on the net. Moving forward by pressing return.

Career. These changes could have to do with a job or your career, as in the path you choose and not the ladder you climb. I much prefer that sense of the word, which is, if you check out the etymology of it, a much truer definition than the traditional and established notion of climbing. And with that definition in mind, there are career options on the net. Now you may have to think differently and creatively, but the net is a tool and can even be the answer. You can start up or join an internet business or project, and geography is less important. Maybe the net’s a way to freelance, to sell the texts you write or translate, or the advice you can give. Or to open up your own shop and sell the postcards you make, the paintings you paint or the warm woolen mittens you knit. Amateur designers, craftsmen and artists get together on the net to sell their products.

There are other things to do on the net as well, and you’re reading one right now – starting up blogs or magazines, with netpats as a possible target group. Or you can study what you’ve always wanted to study but never have done for all sorts of reasons, and geography doesn’t matter either because you can do it on the Internet.

In that way, expat and netpat life may open up for new opportunities, or old ones you never ceased. Take big turns or small turns. It might be that both the income and the outcome are uncertain, but it could still be important. In fact it is, if it matters to you.

By Unni Holtedahl, November 2013

A few addresses for netpats: 

Design / crafts:

Etsy – international

Qiphome – Luxembourg based


Elance – international

Freelancer – international inc. Luxembourg

People Per Hour – international inc. Luxembourg


The Open University UK – Internet studies in English

Do you have any good addresses? Please give them to us!

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