Being a Foreigner

Nations of the WorldHi, I’m a foreigner.

It’s funny, putting it like that. But I am. I’m not from this country. Haven’t been born here. Only arrived here about a month ago. I haven’t always been a foreigner. I used to live back in the Netherlands, where I was a native. I was born there, lived there all my life up to the point of leaving. Yet… I was treated as a foreigner by most people.

It’s something that most Dutch people would never admit, because well, they don’t realize it most of the time. But they can be quite a racist bunch. Not in the sense that they hate all foreigners and want them gone. Sure, there’s enough of those to go around, just like everywhere else. But even the more open ones tend to have this thing where they feel they have to constantly belittle foreigners and talk down to them. Or, an even more common reaction, make fun of them behind their back or in comments they expect will go over their heads.

Wait, why am I complaining about this? I mean, I’m a native Dutch guy. There’s no way this would relate to me anyway, right? Well… Yes and no. It’s a 50-50 thing. I’m not a full blood Dutch guy, and it shows. I don’t look completely Dutch. I’m slightly darker. Have thick, dark, curly hair. I’m a half-breed. The result? Well, a lot of Dutch people treat me like a foreigner. Enough of them don’t even attempt to speak Dutch to me. They’ll immediately start talking in English for no real reason, as if I don’t speak the language. Racist jokes and being brushed aside like I don’t count as a Dutch person? Dealt with that plenty of times. It’s painful because I’m not a foreigner. I’m a native, as much as people like to act as if I’m not.

It’s very hard to feel welcome or at home in a home country that doesn’t want to see you as such. Keeping that in mind, it’s really not that strange that after a while I pretty much only hung out with foreigners for friends.

This is one of the things that makes England a lot easier and welcoming to me. Oh sure, I get treated as a foreigner often enough, but hey, I actually am one now. For the most part English people don’t really seem to care that much you’re a foreigner if you speak the language well enough. Even up here, where I’ve been warned about people being quite racist, I haven’t really run into any problems concerning it. People tend to be a lot more cool with it than they were in the Netherlands. That, and foreigners don’t seem to band together in special foreign groups and communities as much as they did back in The Hague. Then again, most of them here do seem to speak the language better than most foreigners back in the homeland do Dutch.

Times like these I wish I was a lot more intelligent and had a better cultural and social understanding of this sort of deal. Sadly, I don’t. Although it’s never too late to learn about this sort of stuff.


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