I have always felt that the whole concept of being foreign is a little nonsensical. What does it mean to be foreign? If you find yourself within political borders of a country other than the country you were born in or the country you grew up in, that makes you a foreigner to the people who were born and raised in the country you are currently in. So you gain the “foreigner” title. Not only that I absolutely despise putting labels on people and letting their given labels define them; I also feel that letting someone’s nationality define how different they are is entirely absurd. Especially since it’s a relative term – just because you’re considered a foreigner in one place, doesn’t mean you’re considered a foreigner in another. That just makes the whole concept meaningless. I’m a “foreigner” because someone else thinks so? If you want to put labels on me, let it be something that could actually apply, like, human being or something. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to acknowledge that someone is from a different country, however, if it all comes down to “hey, let me show you how things are done here, silly foreigner“, then I don’t want to hear any of it. This all comes from people focusing so much on national, ethnic, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. differences, which is something I don’t feel like going into right now. It’s becoming annoying even if people are like “Oh my gawd I think it’s so cool that you’re Pakistani/gay/black/American/a pink centaur!” We all know that it’s cool! It just seems to me that some of us, as a part of a nation, treat other people based on how nationally and ethnically different they are from us. And when I am treated that way, I can’t help but feel that people are blind to everything I have to offer, except for Montenegrin, Albanian, or foreign.
What I believe foreign is is simply a feeling of not belonging somewhere. Not on a national level, but any level. You may be foreign in a certain group of people, for example, which is a reciprocated feeling, not just something that is given to you and pasted on your forehead. Unfortunately, political borders do shape societies within them, which does differentiate nations. There’s individuality though. Montenegro, for example, is a very tiny country with a lot of different groups of people. And most of those groups are foreign to me, and I’m foreign to them. I have struggled very much to find a group of people or even a single person that would accept me for who I am. There were countless situations in which I had to keep my mouth shut or just try to blend in, just so I wouldn’t have to explain myself, what I am about and what I believe in. I am very relatable and adaptable, but it doesn’t change the fact that being in the presence of some people has restricted me in terms of how I behaved and how I expressed myself. In the past, I believed that being in a country like America would make everything easier. People there are a lot different, right? However, I realized that being able to express yourself provides little pleasure if you’re not understood. Recently, I started thinking about how, maybe, the people who have experienced similar things as me (specifically, Montenegrins who have studied abroad), might be the ones who I would be able to connect with. People with similar beliefs, views, interests, ambitions, I sure should be able to relate to them, right? Wrong. I went from believing there are very few people who see how faulty our society is, to thinking there is actually a lot of people who see our society clearly. Then I realized, a lot of them are conformists. They see how faulty our society is, sure, but their ambition is great enough for them to conform. They make changes which are solely convenient for them. They learned a lot, and they apply it in their Montenegrin ways. And our Montenegrin ways are to blame for our country’s cultural and economical decay. It is disappointing to realize how my year out of the country changed so little about how I see the country I grew up in.
What I definitely know is that being treated as a foreigner by some Americans and being treated as a foreigner by some Montenegrins has shaped who I am, how I treat people and what I think of them.