The word immigrant many times has a negative meaning to people, both to those who are one themselves as well as those who aren’t. In Sweden I am careful with how I use the word, as it could easily sound racist. Especially with me as I sometimes to forget to think and sentences just come out wrong.
To me the word immigrant gives a mixture of feelings. Both good and bad. Bad because I know that people have been forced to leave their home counties, a situation I can never (and hopefully never have to) relate to. Then on top of it all be forced to live amongst some people who look down on them.
I am lucky. I was born with very fair skin, blue eyes and very blonde hair. I say lucky because the world sees me as a northern young woman worthy of a good life. Countless times have I been told that life in Brazil will be easy for me; finding a job won’t be a problem… I am white and blonde after all!
Hitler would have called me an Aryan living in sin!
I understand that I am privileged purely by my ethnicity, but that’s who I am and I can’t change that. I know that life as a foreigner is easier for me than many others, including my husband who is a Brazilian in Portugal (and don’t even get me started on that one!)
I understand! So do not get me wrong when I say “I LOVE BEING AN IMMIGRANT”!
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is something about being different perhaps. Although I actually feel more different in Sweden. When I went last year with my sister and dad we stayed on an island called Lidingö where dad grew up. I remember we went to a restaurant at 10pm asking for a table. We were told the kitchen closed at 9pm. We are not used to that and less so my dad who asked if they start serving breakfast at midnight. The waiter looked at us without really knowing if that was a joke, as we all kind of looked as if “yeah, do you?”
Ok so at least the bar was open. Sweden is known for being expensive, especially the alcohol. The barman served us and provided the bill. My dad was shocked and said “there must be a mistake! No wonder you have to close your restaurant at lunch time, you can’t afford to stay open. It is so cheap!” Ok so dad lives in Qatar, where everything is very expensive…. But it went on and on and on, the staff just thought we were crazier and crazier…
To me being a foreigner also means I appreciate Sweden and other cultures more. I realize how good Sweden is, and understand why people stay! They complain about the weather but that’s a fairly small issue and their salaries allow for traveling! I appreciate other cultures as I understand them better. I have met people from around the world both when I studied at an international school here in Portugal as a child, and during my time at an international college in Australia. But most importantly, since I came back to Portugal in 2004 I have lived amongst other cultures. I have shared a flat with a girl from Spain, once with a girl from Portugal and I now live with my Brazilian husband. I have worked with Russians, English, Venezuelans, Germans, Mozambicans, Italians, Kenyans, Zimbabweans, Polish, Romanians, Scottish, Americans, Canadians, Ozzies, South Africans, Philippines, Indians, Brazilians and God knows who…
I love that I can speak three languages fluently. Thanks to being a foreigner, I can communicate better!
I love that my mum and dad decided to move to Portugal in 1990 so that I got a taste for life outside the perfect world in Sweden. I love that I know what it is like to be rich, but also what it is like to not have a cent. I love that I know what it is like to be in good health, but also to have seen bad health lead to death. I love to know that I am loved and respected. I love that I have been hurt and betrayed, because it has made me the strong person I am today. I love that I met Junior, because he makes me a better person. As long as I keep looking on the bright side, I can find something good come out of the most awful experience
Ultimately, what is so good with traveling and living abroad is the people you meet. So let me finish with this quote I love:
“a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”