The Real Benefit of Being an Immigrant That Many People Miss

Start by not calling yourself an expat.

Taru Anniina Liikanen
4 min readSep 26, 2022


Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

There was a Facebook post by a Finnish influencer/blogger a couple of years ago that made my skin itch. She had moved to Australia and posted about how shocked she was to discover that nobody was racist toward her, as an immigrant.

She considered it to be because she had showed all the Australians she’d met that she was hard-working! Because people won’t be racist if you’re just willing to show you work hard.

This influencer did not consider, for a second, that those Australians who weren’t racist toward her might, in fact, be racist toward other hard-working immigrants. She didn’t understand racism has nothing to do with what you do, but with the color of your skin.

She truly didn’t look at herself in the mirror for one second and realize that as an immigrant she still carried tremendous privilege as a blond, blue-eyed Nordic immigrant.

She would never have a negative experience of mistreatment because of racism. She would always only benefit from it.

The Expat Experience

There’s a specific type of internet commentary I detest.

It’s by mostly white, North American or European immigrants, often of the digital nomad variety, and they speak of the unexpected sides of living abroad, in “third world” or “undeveloped” countries.

They often call themselves “expats” instead of lumping themselves together with other immigrants. Because immigrant sounds so low-class, right?

You’re just working remotely, with wifi and air conditioning, taking advantage of the low income levels of the country you live in. You’re not an immigrant, god forbid.

These kinds of immigrants are often surprised by how well the locals treat them. They’re surprised by how people, in the end, are just people.

They’re shocked that people don’t treat them like people in their countries of origin treat immigrants. It must mean they’re just working hard enough to be respected.

This must mean racism doesn’t exist, right? It’s all about what you do, and those people who say racism…



Taru Anniina Liikanen

Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Recovering political ghostwriter and comedian. Bad jokes my own.