Staring at foreigners – the expat experience!
December 27, 2012
When we choose to live abroad we accept that things in our life situation will be different for us. There will be many things that will be good changes for us and for sure there will be some things that will not be so good and might make us feel uncomfortable. The amount of things that will be different for you depends on your personal background growing up and also where you end up living. Since we all grow up in different countries (and also from different parts of that country) and have different cultural backgrounds, our perspective on what happens to us when living in our host country is definitely going to be varied and different.
One thing that might happen to you when living abroad is that you might find that the locals tend to stare at you a lot. Mostly because you look may look different to them, surely that is what they might stare. You would probably be staring at people that look different from yourself in your home country as well. We don’t necessarily like to admit it maybe, but some might say that it is human nature to stare at other who look characteristically different than you.
But also, there might be a cultural norm difference that comes into play as well. In some cultures it might be commonplace and even accepted to stare at another person in public. Even if it is commonplace for them, it still might make you feel a bit uncomfortable…as it is not a culture norm for your home country. It can be especially uncomfortable if you are getting stared at every day during your life living abroad!
You may start to miss being one of the crowd from you old life living in your home country, making you want to move back sooner than later. You might think twice about getting onto a public bus knowing that it will be jam packed with only locals that enjoy peering and leering at you.
On the other hand, you may welcome the staring and find that you quite enjoy it…being the center of attention. No one stares at your in your home country when you go shopping at your grocery store. No staring might make those weekly visits more monotone and uneventful for you.
But what typically happens most of the time, is that you get used to the staring and start to not notice it so much. It hard to ignore it though when the staring escalates into touching of your hair (if your hair is a radically different color to theirs) or them talking to their friends/family about you in front of your face while pointing at you. The boundaries and cultural norms of how you can interact with strangers in public (that you may be used to) may not exist in your host country culture and it is something you should be aware of and be prepared to experience!
Human being all very inquisitive people, just like many other animals on our planet. We like to figure out things and find out where we belong in a small group, a community, a city, a family, etc. Part of that figuring out where we are and how we fit in most likely involves the staring tactic!
Feel free to leave a comment about your experience being an expat and living abroad in a foreign country. Do the locals tend to stare at you? If you currently live in another country, please take a moment to leave a comment about the host country locals on our website – www.internationalschoolcommunity.com