Freitag, 13. April 2012

Still an Ausländerin

So, It's 6 years since I moved here and I'm still harping on about my foreignness. There are multiple reasons for this. My days are spent teaching English to other immigrants who are struggling to learn yet another language (sometimes simultaneously learning their German.) I teach engineers, lawyers and pharmacists who now live here and need multiple new languages to continue their careers in their new homes.
I moved here in 2006 and now friends ask if I'm going to get my citizenship. This decision has been postponed because of our little 13 month jaunt in North America. The question sounds different depending on who's asking. It's tax time and the annual freak-out about the American government claiming it's tax money abroad has been refreshed (just in time for labor day).

The third reason I'm thinking about my foreignness is that people continue to stereotype about foreigners right to my face, either ignoring my transplatation or forgetting it. For example, when describing my pup's intestinal infection resulting from eating something gross from the bushes when I wasn't watching, the listener said "damn foreigners chuck their compost out their kitchen windows." I was telling this to a German friend and she said, "It's ridiculous that the Swiss still say 'Auslaänder'."  I was embarassingly unaware that there was any German alternative. I'd come her an outsider and imagined that I'd die here an outsider. Apparently, in German, ousiders are more affectionately called "Immigranten." It's so damn semantic, but for some reason it feels better. I'd prefer that.
In the meantime, I'm mistaken for a Belgian or Dutch lady and encourage my students to see more similarities than differences when they can. What else can we do, we band of immigrants?

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