Expat Crime: Lessons Learned from Amanda

By: Cherrye Moore

The world-or at least Italy and America-has been talking a lot about Amanda Knox, the American college student who was accused and recently convicted of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.

The story has all of the ingredients any Lifetime Movie could dream of – Sex, Murder, Lies and Betrayal.

Only, this is no fairytale.

A young expat is dead;

another sentenced to 26 years in a foreign prison;

and the world debating a judicial system that may-or may not be-equal to what Americans consider minimum standard, but that is, nevertheless, the governing system where Amanda Knox committed her crime.

In addition to the glowering “Don’t Murder Your Roommate Abroad” advice, there are lessons here for all of us.

Whether or not you believe Amanda Knox is guilty, expats around the world can all learn from her mistakes.

1. Expats don’t have to be gone long to understand there are major differences between their new home and the one they left behind. Remembering these differences and knowing that the judicial system will likely be very different from what you are used to might help you if you find yourself in legal trouble.

2. Speaking of differences, Americans are accustomed to having certain rights as they pertain to police questioning. These rights are not universal … another difficult difference if you find yourself in trouble abroad.

3. Language difficulties no doubt played an important role in the primary questioning of this case. If it’s not easy to go to the store and buy Q tips in a foreign language, it won’t be easy being interrogated by police who are searching for a murderer.

4. Many people-myself included-have a hard time understanding some of Amanda’s actions following the murder. While they may have felt justified in her mind, cartwheels and lingerie shopping aren’t considered appropriate grieving behavior by many people. Perhaps she was stressed or letting off steam, as some have suggested, but remembering one’s manners in a foreign city and international police station, are in your best interest.

So what do you say? What other lessons can expats learn from Amanda?

Cherrye Moore is a freelance writer and southern Italy travel consultant living in Calabria, Italy. She and her Calabrese husband own Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast in Catanzaro. Comments are welcome on both sites.

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  1. I’m so glad you said this! I lived in the center of Perugia until recently and I must say, the study-abroad kids just get out of hand and forget to behave themselves. We should always be humble and respect the local rules and culture where we are living – and remember simply being American doesn’t place anyone above the law in a foreign country.

  2. Thanks, Tina. I was interested to hear your point of view on this since I knew you lived in Perugia. I actually searched your site to see if you’d written about it.

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