Thursday, 28 June 2012

Stranger radar

By: Emma

I am not a Refugee. I have not left my country, exiled for reasons so utterly terrifying that you wouldn't believe me even if I tried to explain.

I am an expatriate. Someone who is privileged to live in another country for work reasons. I am privileged to explore the world at will, rather than forced to travel out of necessity.

Same ground, different footing.
I am however, someone whose eyes have been opened to the feeling of what it is like to be an outsider. Who at times has been made to feel unwelcome and unwanted in another's land. And that's the only thing I have to worry about. I can just forget about the feeling of unease that might have momentarily upset my day, and carry on. I am lucky, it probably won't happen to me again, not for a while anyway.

To those that are in exile, I am grateful for what you have taught me.The best privilege yet, has been to meet some amazing people from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures in the two countries that I have lived in away from my home, the UK. And I have yet to meet more gracious and lovely people than the friends who fled Sri Lanka for example, or the countless others we have met along the way, who had to leave home behind.

We all have one thing in common “us foreigners”. A special skill, only granted to you when you have been a foreigner yourself. A kind of inbuilt radar system that alerts us to mutual “strangers” in the vicinity, whether on a train, or just passing each other in the supermarket. When it’s activated, you might see us smiling at each other, for we have a mutual understanding of what it feels like to be different, and to not truly belong. In this respect at least we are always the same, despite our backgrounds and cultural variations.

~ Written for the Strangers in Strange Lands series. When not taking in the delights of Copenhagen with her family, Emma can be found on A Bavarian Sojourn


  1. I had one of those meetings in the supermarket yesterday. A brief encounter with a man from South Africa looking for fresh milk. There are no guarantees here when it comes to fresh milk. UHT can be relied upon of course.

  2. Fresh milk can be like rocket science. For some baffling reason.