Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Expat Experience

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a bubble, disconnected from the rest of the world but still aware of it, seeing it all but not a part of it. Everything and everyone around me appears just a little bit different than what I have been accustomed to all my life. The young men in the street walk briskly, wear beige jackets and use heavy synthetic personal grooming products. The women more often than not default to a frown when you happen to catch their eye but otherwise appear to be normal, just a measure more dismal. I sit in the café and listen to familiar music in one ear and in the other I hear a background noise of a language I recognize but don’t fully understand, like something heard in a dream, so I just switch it all off and there I am, in a bubble in the middle of the room.

10 Comments:

Blogger J said...

Trust me, it's not just you. I've felt that way for years now. I also switch off German sometimes, but have found that not to be a good thing as it enabled me to also do it from time to time in my German classes.

I thought about you and HH when I was in Cologne on Sunday.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

J ...

I expect with time the bubble will thin out, if not disappear ... It's so much about the language ... I know.

Hope you had a good weekend in the city ...

Best ...

9:52 PM  
Anonymous spaghetti said...

I just recently came upon your blog and want to compliment you on it. It is a pleasure to read.

The thoughtfulness, the melancholy, and your love for detailed perception that I pick up in your writings strike a chord with me. I relate to your posts in a reverse scenario, being a German married to an American. I'm also familiar with the vicinity of your current surroundings, counting Duesseldorf, Neuss, and Koeln as my German stomping grounds.

Thanks so much for your blog. It brings back profound memories of my own beginnings as a foreigner in the US some years ago.

annette.

10:10 PM  
Blogger J said...

R, I don't know if the bubble ever disappears. It sure hasn't for me, but that might be because of where I currently live (it didn't seem so big when I lived in Poland).

10:16 PM  
Anonymous lillian said...

The bubble might thin out in time but most probably be part of you forever....

2:49 AM  
Blogger christina said...

It will never disappear completely. I often still have that feeling of detachment and for me it doesn't have much to do with the language since speaking and understanding it come automatically to me now. It's more of a feeling of never quite fitting in and needing to shut out your surroundings for a while to get your bearings again.

I've also had the feeling of living in a fishbowl when people find out I'm not from here. It's as if they're coming up close, pressing their noses to the glass to get a good look at the 'tropical' oddity inside and then moving on to other things.

9:50 AM  
Blogger piu piu said...

i recognise that feeling, and in a month i'll be experiencing it again too....

10:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one. It's a big reason I don't watch television much anymore, the constant German language blah-blah-blah running in the background. It's too much to process constantly. I need a way to escape that or it overwhelms me. I shut everything down and make America again in my mind, take walks in my hometown on deserted, peaceful streets.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Signora B. said...

And here I thought I am the only one to escape into a bubble.
Sometimes there are conversations ,voices and surroundings,that will screetch across my soul like chalk on a blackboard.I'll withdraw in to my bubble and shut out the noise.
My mind will end up some where in the mts.
I realy feel, we all need our bubble ,to refresh and let the world go by.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Chloe said...

Richard i feel the same way many many times and I am not even an expat. I've been living here for the most part of my life.

2:07 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home