• Dear Guest, and welcome to RailUK Forums. Our non-railway discussion forums are currently restricted until members have five or more posts, and you will not be able to make a new thread or reply to an existing one in this section until you have made five or more posts elsewhere on the forum.

What it means to be a foreigner?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Giugiaro

Member
Joined
4 Nov 2011
Messages
729
Location
Valongo - Portugal
Good evening everyone!

This is a question that I have since I started contacting with people from different countries and makes me think about it a lot.

What really means to be a foreigner? Does the "love for the motherland" makes someone a foreigner or just the "birth country"? Can someone actually hide his real nationality, living naturally with people on another country?

Since I joined this forum, the first completely based on the UK, that I felt a huge sense of responsibility that I never had in Portugal. The British take things with great seriousness, which is something that I admire. The Portuguese more often lose track of their sense of responsibility, something that led the country to the situation it is right now.

Also, it is a constant challenge for me has a foreigner to have a good English writing, not only to learn new words, but also to blend myself between you, writing in a more naturalistic way rather than a "this is the basic way to speak English".

I like to learn other peoples language and culture, their ways, habits and differences, not to find ways to prejudice them, but to learn how to be like them. This way I can stay with other people without them noticing I'm a foreigner, because that way we feel more closer and the "supposed" imaginary boundaries disappear, having more space for a greater friendship and easiness to talk.

This gave me some sort of skill to fool other people when I'm abroad. Not in a negative way of course! I'll show now some of my recent experiences with people from other countries, to show what kind of impact I was able to create:



In the last year I've been in the Strasbourg European Parliament, at the Euroscola. There was a part in which we could make questions to the Parliament's President and Staff. I made two questions, one in English and the other in Spanish. Later, on the break, when I faced the Spanish to answer some questions on the EuroGame, they were astonished when they learned I wasn't Spanish, but Portuguese! I couldn't believe myself someone would think I were from another country, not mentioning someone born in the homeland of the language I spoken...
On that same brake, on the way to lunch, I deliberately left my Portuguese fellows and went to another place. I seated on a empty table and later I was with Cypriots, if I remember well. We've gotten along very well and went answering the Eurogame. From that moment on I felt better hanging with people from other countries rather than my Portuguese fellows. Everyone was surprised to know I was Portuguese.
On that night I passed some good time talking with teachers from Greece. It was a little bit difficult this time because only the English teacher was the one I could talk directly to, but we carried the conversation with any problems, sharing about education and curiosities in both Portugal and Greece.

Later that year, when I went to the World Youth Day, in Madrid, I had an excellent talk with a group of North Americans. I kept hidden my nationality for most of the time, and we talked about Latin, America, UK, the British and the American accent, trains and the curiosities about the $ and the €, until they asked me where I came from... couldn't lie to them so I said I was Portuguese. They were surprised by such, even known I was talking with stutter, trying to find the better words and expressions, but they kindly said I talked very well English anyway.
The two other days I contacted with people from a large variety of places, I couldn't stop being happy! I was lucky to even be able to catch a pair of Japanese people and test my "super-basic" Japanese accent in "Hello", "Thank you" and "Goodbye". I also tried Italian, but wasn't so prepared that time.

In general, I prefer to appear in a international plaza in a "neutral" position, then adapting my "way to be" depending to who I'm talking to, placing my national identity in last position.




Now here's a final question for you. Do you think about me as a foreigner, or do you feel like I'm much closer to you than you though I would?


This is important to me because I feel much better if I can be closer to other people by assuming they're national identity, rather than dragging them to mine. This doesn't mean that I try to forget my own national identity, it's just that I'm not that kind of people who first thing they say is "PORTUGAL IS THE GREATEST!", when at home they are always complaining about everything and anything.


Curiosity: If I were in Portugal 200 years ago, I would be called an "Estrangeirado" (something like "foreigned") and in an extreme case a "traitor to the motherland".
 
Last edited:
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Ivo

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2010
Messages
7,307
Location
Bath (or Southend)
Interesting question!

If you had an English-sounding username I would be able to tell that English wasn't your first language, but there is no way I could tell where you are from (well, apart from saying somewhere that uses European languages anyway, but that could mean Venezuela for all we know).

The first (or second? I forget) time I went to Germany some people spoke to us in English without any indication that we were English (I still remember one quote to this day, which would be of interest on this forum!), whereas I competently spoke to them in German.

I would suggest that the term "foreign" is losing its meaning now. What does it mean? Someone who was born elsewhere? Someone who lives elsewhere? These facts aside, globalisation has resulted in many formerly localised customs and norms beng eroded, meaning what we do would be understood almost anywhere. So would it really make any difference if you were from Japan for instance (actually, let's not go there because I can see you benefitting greatly from that! :p)?

It's not really fair for me to answer the last question in the forum's place because I have had more contact with you than anyone else (to my knowledge anyway). But you certainly seem to mix in easily enough from my perspective, and have been very helpful to me in particular as well...

Why do you ask?

P.S.: You have a PM :)
 

Xenophon PCDGS

Veteran Member
Joined
17 Apr 2011
Messages
27,072
Location
A semi-rural part of north-west England
..... writing in a more naturalistic way rather than a "this is the basic way to speak English".

From what I have read of your posting and the phraseology used in its composition, you write with a relaxed and confident style, which would make most readers assume that you are a well-educated English person, with a good command of the English language.
 

NY Yankee

On Moderation
Joined
26 Mar 2012
Messages
487
Location
New York City
I'm an American posting on a British forum, so technically I'm a foreigner as well. I speak English, though there are subtle differences between American and British English (no one calls a bathroom a loo in the US. People don't use terms like bloody or rubbish). With that said, British people are probably the least xenophobic (definitely more tolerant than my home country). Nearly 1/4 of the population of London isn't even British. You can keep your identity as a Portuguese person while still exuding pride for the UK.
 

WestCoast

Established Member
Joined
19 Jun 2010
Messages
5,483
Location
Glasgow
With that said, British people are probably the least xenophobic (definitely more tolerant than my home country). Nearly 1/4 of the population of London isn't even British.

You wouldn't necessarily think that reading some of the Daily Express's or Daily Mail's articles (the latter being the most read online paper in the UK) and especially the comments left by readers. Crucially however, they don't represent the views of a great proportion of the country.
 

WCMLaddict

Member
Joined
20 Mar 2012
Messages
417
This is an interesting topic.

I'm a foreigner living in UK for almost 8 years now. My surname is so foreign (unpronounceable for the majority of British people) that sometimes, even at very official level meetings, I tend to skip it. Communications are an important part of my everyday job and I always triple check everything for mistakes and grammar (at least as much as I can). I was told on many occasions that I use English language like it would be my “mother's tongue” and many people assume I was born and educated in UK.

I’m also more than aware that I speak with an accent but nobody has ever been able to say where it comes from. Most of the times people think I’m Dutch or Scandinavian, I was once asked if I’m American. As I lived all around UK I was told many times that with time I pick some local sounds and words (just a wee bit ;) )

I have been always very self-aware of the way I speak and write but very quickly noticed that I can get away with much more than I thought simply as majority of British people make much more mistakes than I do. Sometimes the use of grammar is so appalling that makes my speak look posh and formal.

I know my English is better than vast majority of my nationals and many people are surprised by it. I noticed that makes a huge difference in how my co-workers, neighbours and people around perceive me. I never had a problem with striking very friendly relations with English people which I know many of my nationals living in UK have. Just as an example, one of my neighbours is my fellow national but his English is rather weak. Because of the language barrier he barely speaks to other neighbours and they tend to do same. When I go for a walk with the dog and someone is around it would always mean a short conversation about weather or other neutral topic, whether when he goes out it is always just a polite ‘hi’ and nothing more.

Being able to communicate freely and easily in the language of your peers is probably the most important thing for any foreigner to be considered “one of us”, especially on an internet forum.

What nationality am I? ;) And I hope I didn't make too many mistakes :lol:
 

martinsh

Established Member
Joined
27 Jan 2011
Messages
1,672
Location
Considering a move to Memphis
This is an interesting topic.

I'm a foreigner living in UK for almost 8 years now.

What nationality am I? ;) And I hope I didn't make too many mistakes :lol:

I think you're Polish. Since the 8 years would mean just about when Poland joined the EU. Of all the East European names, Polish ones are the hardest to pronounce.

Apart from the "I am a foreigner" line all the rest of your English is pretty good.
 

WCMLaddict

Member
Joined
20 Mar 2012
Messages
417
I think you're Polish. Since the 8 years would mean just about when Poland joined the EU. Of all the East European names, Polish ones are the hardest to pronounce.

Apart from the "I am a foreigner" line all the rest of your English is pretty good.

Gosh the time flies. I actually moved a year before Poland joined UE so it is over 9 years actually. But you're right. It wasn't much of a challenge, was it? :lol:
 

Clip

On Moderation
Joined
28 Jun 2010
Messages
10,616
You wouldn't necessarily think that reading some of the Daily Express's or Daily Mail's articles (the latter being the most read online paper in the UK) and especially the comments left by readers. Crucially however, they don't represent the views of a great proportion of the country.

Its also one of the most read news websites in the world even beating the Wall street journal and NY times IIRC
 

lemonic

Member
Joined
17 Sep 2010
Messages
497
Gosh the time flies. I actually moved a year before Poland joined UE so it is over 9 years actually. But you're right. It wasn't much of a challenge, was it? :lol:

If you hadn't admitted in this post that you moved from Poland, you slipped up intentionally or otherwise with UE (Unia Europejska) instead of EU :p
 

Ploughman

Established Member
Joined
15 Jan 2010
Messages
2,629
Location
Near where the 3 ridings meet
I was on a US Airbase, Otis, on Cape Cod a number of years back.
While there for a few weeks we were ordered off the base for a day due to the then President Bill Clinton passing through.
The order was that all non Americans (Foreigners) had to leave the base.

We went to Boston for the day and thought about having a tea party.
 

LE Greys

Established Member
Joined
6 Mar 2010
Messages
5,389
Location
Hitchin
Having spent some time living in Scotland, I often tended to feel like a bit of a foreigner. Mind you, I'm the sort of person who never really feels at home anywhere (except perhaps the table seat of a MkIII). It's just a matter of knowing that you stand out every time you open your mouth. It's a choice of playing it up (which can be fun when on holiday) or playing it down (the usual approach when in Aberdeen). Even so, some people can be hostile, others can be patronising. You just have to but up with it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top