Thursday, March 30, 2017


Dear person at the school or store or driving through the neighborhood,

I'm sorry for judging you.  Perhaps you were new to the area.  Perhaps you just didn't know the rules or didn't understand something completely unfamiliar to you.  Perhaps you were just confused by different systems or regulations or terminology.  I realize now that your error did not mean you were an incompetent or unintelligent person.  You were not trying to be rude nor disrespectful.  You just didn't know.  You were a foreigner.  And now that I am a foreigner too, I understand.  

When I have to ask multiple people what the school means by "voluntary donation" and after 3 separate conversations still don't really understand if they expect me to pay or not.  When my son doesn't have a swim cap because I didn't know it was required.  When I assume "parent night" means a social night out for parents, but then discover it actually means parent teacher conferences.  When I must inquire about why I am supposed to bring a chocolate egg to school for a fundraiser instead of just paying some money directly to the school.  I am not trying to be rude or disrespectful.  I just don't understand the new systems.  And now I realize that maybe you just didn't understand either.

When it takes me twice as long to find the item I am looking for because zucchini is called cougarettes and powdered sugar is called icing sugar. When I search for the eggs in the refrigerated section and discover they are instead in the home baking section, not refrigerated.  When I must ask how to find the right light bulb because there are so many different, unfamiliar options.  When I have to ask if I have the right coins in my hand before I can pay. When I mistake creme fraiche for clotted cream and serve it to my husband on scones.  I am really not totally incompetent.  It is all just new to me.  And now I see that maybe it was all new to you too.

When I am confused about what "Humped Zebra Crossing" means as I am driving.  When I slow down until people are honking because I doubt my cars ability to fit through the narrow roadways. When I can't remember whose turn it is as I zip into a roundabout and cut someone off yet again . . . I'm really not a total idiot.  I'm still learning.  And now I understand that maybe you were still learning too.

Forgive me if I judged you or mistook your errors for incompetence or lack of intelligence.  Now I am beginning to see what it is to be a foreigner and realize just how hard it can be.

With understanding and admiration,

A Rookie Foreigner
Discovery - Hobnobs and Digestive Biscuits are NOT the same thing.



M said...

Kudos to you and all that you are learning! Until I read your post, I didn't really think about what an intensive educational experience one is having as a foreigner - and not just that you get to go and visit the museums in London for free! There is a lot of practical, day-to-day things that one needs to learn. I'm glad that you and Matt are such bright people. You'll be able to adapt and learn these new words and customs quickly.

LaRue said...

So what is a jumped zebra crossing??? One of the big blessings of learning a new culture is knowing that there is more than one "right" way of doing things. You are all expanding your minds and that is not always comfortable. Insight from my big move from Idaho to Utah!!

kold_kadavr_ flatliner said...
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