Expats Behaving Badly: Mike’s Story

Meet Mike. He’s the reason I decided to write about expats behaving badly. But first things first. These posts are not meant to throw light onto normal everyday reactions and actions of expats living abroad. We all have our moments of anger, confusion and stress and at times, it’s hard not to react to a given situation. These posts are reserved for the expats I’ve met who have actually caused harm to others. This kind of behavior should not be acceptable under any circumstances.

Mike has made everyone’s life at work miserable over the past week. He is quickly making a name for himself as being a real nuisance, however he’s managed to avoid being blacklisted in Taiwan for some reason. I actually felt compelled to apologize to my boss for his behavior. When expats behave badly, their behavior reflects negatively on the rest of us.

I’m not really sure what Mike’s problem is. I’ve worked beside him for the past two months. John and I trained him before we left Taiwan five months ago. Our initial impression of Mike was not good. We had doubts about his ability to teach or relate to his students. Along with another co-worker, we recommended he not be hired.

Despite our misgivings, Mike was given a teaching position with our school. It soon became apparent after working with him that there was something not quite right about Mike. In addition to several work-related issues, he is prone to violent, angry outbursts over minor incidents. Up until last week, he was still under observation and was watched like a hawk in the classroom.

Mike and I take the same train every night after work. I’ve noticed first-hand how he has developed an increasingly agitated attitude towards our boss. In the past month, his comments toward our school director have started to get more personal. At times, he struck me as being a little paranoid. He felt the school was out to get him.

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Obviously, the management and teaching staff at our school have been really worried about his performance. While in class last week, he messed up a simple reading lesson in front of the school director. When the director asked him about it, Mike flew into a rage and stormed out. This was not an isolated incident. He has anger management issues which have been demonstrated at school on several occasions.

After his outburst, he phoned our director and verbally abused and threatened her physically over the phone. Then he reduced all communication with everyone to personal text messages, including about a dozen threatening messages to several employees, including myself.

Meanwhile, his behavior became increasingly erratic. He threatened to harm himself. He claimed God was going to punish us all. He was convinced the school was going to dock his pay, despite being reassured by the school they would pay him what he was due. Our directors were really concerned Mike was going to harm himself or someone else. The police were finally contacted late Friday night after he sent threatening messages to my phone, my director’s phone and her husband. In the meantime, Mike also contacted the police and falsely accused the school of employing illegal teachers.

We were told he might come to the school earlier this week. People wondered whether to leave the school when he arrived, despite having police there as counter-measures. By 9pm, he had succeeded in scaring my director and her husband so badly they felt she had no choice but to make a formal complaint against him to the local police.

Mike contacted me again the next day to let me know he was bringing the police to the school. The day culminated in a meeting between Mike and the school director at the police station. They have given him fourteen days to find a job before he has to leave Taiwan. The school is not able to blacklist him because he quit. I found out last night he was fired from two previous jobs in Taiwan for similar reasons and he left his teaching job in Korea because of similar behavior.

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The latest news I received from him claimed his behavior was a hoax to ensure he received his pay. I’m not sure what to believe nor am I sure what’s worse. He’s either mentally unstable or he’s a crafty, malicious, manipulative man who thinks nothing of this sort of detestable behavior.

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Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian who has been living in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. I'm an experienced businesswoman and have worked in many leadership positions in Asia. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. I started writing about my health journey in 2009 after being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. In 2014, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, which came with other massive health issues. These diagnoses were the start of my journey as a health advocate and patient leader. Since then, My Several Worlds has been recognized worldwide as a top site for AS, fibromyalgia, and chronic illness by WEGO Health and Healthline.

8 thoughts on “Expats Behaving Badly: Mike’s Story


    (September 16, 2007 - 8:06 pm)

    I think Mike needs help ASAP.

    It sounds like he is displaying prodrome symptoms of schizophrenia …

    (social isolation, paranoid delusions AKA believing ppl are “out to get you”, social/occupational dysfunction, ..)

    He is also displaying grandeur delusion (believe that one can communicate with God or has super-power etc)…

    I think he REALLY needs to get help before he further deteriorates and harm himself/others. These are classic symptoms of Schizophrenia.

    Has he left tw yet?


    (September 16, 2007 - 8:12 pm)

    I do hope the police or other authorities (?) has referred him for a psychological assessment… 🙁

    At least stabilize him first so he wouldn’t harm himself or otheres…

    Although I am not sure how medical insurance etc works for expats in tw?


    (September 17, 2007 - 1:15 am)

    hey Carrie,

    i just made a post about Mike and included a couple links to your post. i tried to compliment your post with some personal insights on the situation. check it out. i think it adds to the examination of the scene.



    (September 20, 2007 - 12:12 am)

    Seems to me that his having nervous break down or some other mental problems. Culture shock can cause that kind of thing for sure, but there might deeper underlaying problems here. Anyway seems a bit mental to me.


    (September 20, 2007 - 11:54 pm)

    You know, I’ve never heard of anybody ever actually being “blacklisted”. Do you know how that whole system works?


    (September 21, 2007 - 10:22 pm)


    I know a few people who have been blacklisted but I’m not exactly sure how the whole process works. They’ve had a really difficult time securing decent jobs since this happened to them.

    I believe teachers can be blacklisted if they do what’s called a ‘midnight run’, which is skipping out on a contract without giving notice. This will land you in a bucket of hot water no matter where you are. I had a friend in China who was in this situation. Our school director ended up ‘buying out’ her contract with the first school. She still had to leave China and re-enter.

    Check out this link for more information: Foreign teacher blacklists


    (September 23, 2007 - 7:06 am)

    Great story: Many ex-pats suck. I think they go to a new country thinking life will be better, but they take their issues with them.


    (September 30, 2007 - 1:09 am)

    Ah, the eternal question; is the man playing the crazy card to scare his opponents (like Nixon negotiating with Hanoi) or actually crazy (like Nixon shortly thereafter)? An interesting read, and whatever the case Mike sounds like an unpleasant fellow. There are many like him in the ex-pat world, but not any more, I think, than in any other. We’re just more aware of them here because its a smaller pond. Anyway, your tale reminds me of one of my own, which I think I’ll go put up at Snarky Tofu. Go check out “Mr. Happy Gets His” at ST whenever you get the chance.

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