Tuesday, 10 November 2015

5 ways to make a foreigner's day

Being a foreigner is hard. It gets easier with time, but it's still often hard because you're away from your friends and family and having to adapt to a whole new culture. So if there's someone in your life who didn't grow up in your country, here are five ways to make their day. 

1) If they just moved, make sure they have everything they need. 
For example, do they need mattresses while they wait for their stuff to arrive by boat? Do they need flowers to fill their empty house? What about a bucket full of ice until their fridge arrives? What about someone to go for lunch with? Stuff that you would take for granted is actually really important. If in doubt, just ask. 

2) Learn a bit of their language.
It can be difficult moving to a new country where they don't speak your language. It was difficult for us, and we actually speak English. (Then again, Australian English is just... weird. Awesome, but weird.) Just learning how to say "hello" would rock. My friends now say "washroom" instead of "toilet", which always makes me smile. 

3) Ask questions about their country.
I love answering questions about Canada, as long as the questions aren't stupid. Stupid questions include - "If you're Chinese, then you'd know kung-fu, right? Wait, you're American and you're not overweight? You're Canadian, so you must know Justin Bieber, right?" Most people would (hopefully) laugh, but seriously, I've gotten it all. Ask thoughtful questions, like about the education system and what they think about the different seasons and what their country's national sport is. 

4) Don't stereotype. 
These one leads on a little from the last question. Please, please do not stereotype. Don't stereotype them based on their country (all Canadians must love hockey, eh?) and don't stereotype their country based on them (you get good grades, so everyone in Australia must to). It's hurtful to assume that everyone in a certain group is the same, and while some people feed off stereotypes, not everyone does. 

5) Be understanding. 
It can be really difficult to move away from the country you grew up in. It doesn't matter if you had my experience where I moved from one awesome country to another, or if you moved from a poverty stricken, war-torn country to a peaceful one with a stable society. It's still hard. Living in another country is a game of balancing time zones and emailing people you haven't seen face-to-face for years. We just went back to Canada last December, and that was the first time that we'd seen our friends and family for three years. I'm not saying that it's crippling or awful or unbearable, because I'd do it all again without a second thought and it's been one of the best experiences of my life. But sometimes all you need to do is understand that they're going through stuff that you can't understand. 


Do you have any tips for making people's day, foreigner or not? What makes your day? Comment away, my jabberwockies! 

2 comments:

  1. All of these. Even moving back to your home country after staying in a foreign country for a few years can be quite a reverse culture shock, and it's nice to have people support you in the same ways. And grr, I wish people wouldn't stereotype based on country of origin because I would hate to be clumped with the general impression of most Americans. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. We haven't moved back yet, and I'm kinda dreading having to adjust again. I'd imagine you would have struggled to adjust, especially since the US and Africa are way more different from Canada and Australia. *Takes hat off to you*

    I know, right? Stereotyping should be outlawed or something.

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