Friday, July 25, 2008

Feelings

I had barely set foot in Cayman when I felt the onslaught of a slew of "Which Island is better" and "What's it like working in Bermuda compared to Cayman" type questions. I wasn't willing to answer them then and put it off saying: I'd only know how to answer those after living in Cayman for at least a few months. Well, I believe that time has arrived.

There's always that tension in the workplace, the locals vs the expats. For the most part it's hidden, but every once in while it rears its ugly head and it's not just limited to the island life. I've never really blogged about the workplace tension in Bermuda, mainly because I didn't think it was 'safe' to do so (if a local's blog can be shut down, watch how fast they'd move on a expat, was my thinking). With the small number of expats compared to size of Bermuda's local population, there is quite a bit of resentment that exits. In the past few years, expats have been feeling less and less welcome on the island and in the workplace due to these tensions that inevitably surface. Recent government rules that have been implemented have not exactly been expat friendly and this is a feeling shared across the board. Talk of how the second car market should be made unavailable to expats, on how expats singles/ couples would no longer be eligible to purchase cars, on how it would the companies that would be allotted permits to own cars and it would be them that would decide which expat employee would get that permit - these are the asinine rules to name a few. Luckily these never got implemented because of the uproar on how these rules make expats feel like second class citizens. 'Second Class Citizens' was a phrase that was thrown around a lot last year in the expat community.
Add to that, the government refuses to acknowledge that International Business is the MAIN pillar of the economy, given that tourism is an industry that only thrives in the summer due to Bermuda's sub tropical and variable climate. It has been adamant that it is tourism that is the main pillar of the economy and frankly given the facts, those numbers just don't add up.

Well, welcome to Cayman, where 58% of the population is made up of expats. Yes, there does exist that tension but it is minute compared to Bermuda's level. What's different about Cayman is that many of the current status holders started out as expats many years ago.
There are no restrictions on owning cars here on this island. And unlike Bermuda, Cayman does acknowledge that International Business goes equally hand in hand with the tourism industry to make up their economy. An acknowledgement such as this can make all the difference. And it does. And coming from Bermuda, I can now feel the difference. Some may feel that I am biased and that I've no love for Bermuda any more, but that's not true. When I first got here, people would automatically tell me, 'So you're from Bermuda huh? I heard they have a lot of restrictions on things like work permits and owning cars.' They'd obviously heard it from other former Bermuda residents. Word of mouth is everything and Bermuda's reputation has unfortunately preceded it.

3 comments:

Mighty Afroditee said...

I have never thought negatively per se of Bermuda's rules and regulations, well, the few that I was aware of. I never deemed myself informed enough to make a proper decision.

That being said, it begs to wonder how, when, and if Cayman will actually impose a moratorium on cars as well, for it is evident that there are too much for such a small Island.

The expat / local debate is one that we will hear forever, and affects every country under the sun. To me, there almost seems to be no wrong or right, for if a nation seeks to protect their citizens, xenophobia is the next hue and cry, and yet, if they do not, then one can risk the eradication of art, culture, and even a particular nationality.

As long as all and sundry are reasonable in their expectations, and a nice balance is struck, one can ask for nothing more...

bichonpawz said...

I have often wondered about the whole expat thing. I haven't a clue as to how to go about getting a job in another country. I give you alot of credit for being very brave! What an adventure!!! One of the reasons I love your blog, my friend!!

MsCutePants@gmail.com said...

Mighty Aphroditee: Thanks for visiting & commenting. I am honoured to have a Caymanian's opinion and you said it far more eloquenty than I ever could.

Bichon Pawz: Thank you so for your kind words and for continuing to visit.