The Stages of Being a Foreigner
The different periods I experienced in a new world
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 14:09
When you go abroad to study in a country that uses a totally different language and culture for over one semester, the first step that you will experience would be definitely a “disoriented period.” I, as a Korean exchange student who will stay only this fall semester, arrived here on Aug. 13, 2012. It has been about a month since I settled down in Fargo.
While preparing for the exchange program, I was anticipating life in America a lot. I could not imagine how different life would be. However, just after I arrived in the U.S., I felt disoriented. I felt very nervous, weird and puzzled. There was no one that I knew here. I would have to survive by myself!
After the “disoriented period,” you will be so stressed you’d experience a “new born baby stress syndrome.” Everyday you will feel overwhelmed and exhausted due to facing a serious language barrier at this point. You never understand what your friends are talking about, which makes you so sad and feel like an infant, as you don’t know what is happening in the conversation.
I remember the first day that I met my suitemates and hung out with their friends outside Pavek hall. I was hardly able to understand anything, which made me so frustrated. Sometimes, due to the changed environment, I felt very sick; the food made me so sick during the second week of my stay in Fargo. I thought I was quite accustomed to eating in an American way; however, one day I had a really serious stomach ache. My whole upper body hurt a lot. I felt like I was almost dying. Moreover, the dry weather with frequent, huge temperature differences caused me to get a serious sore throat.
The next period that you will experience can be called “Pirates of the Caribbean Period.” You will become like Jack Sparrow who is exploring the world; you come to be curious, interested and surprised by the brand new things that don’t exist in your country.
I tried s’mores, which I have only watched from one scene of “Sponge Bob Square Pants” and never tried in Korea. I saw the big, wild deer, which is rare to see in my country, while driving to the camp. I heard gunshots for hunting animals and was curious and stunned by this “new” culture, the hunting that people do in the U.S.
The experience, so far throughout these periods, allowed me a chance to live as a foreigner who is away from the “mainstream” or “majority;” I am able to think in a different way, which will expand my tolerance toward the other people from different cultures. You will come to have a different perspective toward society because you can compare your society to the new one, which then gives you a completely different insight to society.
Now, I just entered into the “Pirates of the Caribbean Period” and do not know what would be the next period after this. I am just anticipating!
Summer is a freshman majoring in marketing.