A Different Foreigner

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A Different Foreigner

We have talked about the typical foreigner: Someone living in a country other than their own, having a different culture and different beliefs than everyone else around them. But can one be a foreigner in their own country, their own city, or their own town? If one has different beliefs than those of his/her friends and/or family, can we call that person a ‘foreigner’ if they are going through the same things that Julia Kristeva describes in her book? In today’s culture, the same aspects that apply to foreigners, such as loneliness, separation, and the need to fit in, apply to many teenagers, whether they grow up in a town they have lived in all their lives, or if they move to a foreign place. In Strangers to Ourselves, Kristeva writes, “Who is a foreigner? The one who does not belong to the group, who is not “one of them,” the other” (Kristeva, 95). If I were to discuss beliefs with my parents, such as political or moral beliefs, and agreed with everything my parents said, what happens when all of my friends at school believe in completely different things? To them, my beliefs would be very different, almost foreign. To them, I would be the other.

If, over time, I were to change my beliefs to mirror the beliefs of my friends, one day I would come home and realize how different I was from my family. My beliefs would be the opposite of theirs. Like many foreigners living in a country different than the one they were born in, going home would not be the same as it was when I was still the same as my family.

If a typical teenager goes through the same scenario that I have described above, how different is it if a teenager becomes a foreign exchange student. One immediately thinks of the obvious…the teenager is, of course, in a foreign country, away from home. But, that particular teen is still trying to fit in, and is growing in ways that are changing the person that he/she used to be.

During the transition from believing what my family believes to what my friends believe in, there would be a time in which I would fit in neither world. My views would have changed enough for me to be different from my parents, but not enough for me to be the same as my friends.
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