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The migratory process and the immersion in a culture foreign to ours can sometimes cause a feeling of loneliness, strangeness with the different, confusion and disorientation, feelings often of rejection and fear of being rejected.
Foreigners often feel again like a child who needs to relearn everything, to speak and write a new language when necessary, to make new friends and learn to integrate into their new society, get used to new eating habits and deprive themselves even for others, getting used to the geography and climate of the new place; foreigners also need to understand the politics, economy, history and culture of their new home and, above all, understand the mentality and habits of the people who live there.

The foreign being is also often accompanied by being regarded on numerous occasions as 'the stranger from a distant galaxy', and even being seen as 'exotic' but without feeling exotic, being suddenly considered to belong to an ethnic group that never before, he thought of belonging and sometimes being seen as a stereotyped figure of all the elements present in the imagination of those who cross his path.

In addition to all this, being a foreigner always also implies respecting, understanding, revealing, learning and relearning, getting used to, being patient, giving in and all this in the search to feel accepted, this is, by the way, the the most natural need of the human being: the need to belong, to be part! As psychoanalytic studies have shown for a long time, the feeling of belonging is an intrinsic need, inherent to the human being, as we seek comfort, security and build our identity through the relationship and contact with another, that is, we are individual and relational beings at the same time.

This hurricane of feelings forces us to be strong subjects and, on the other hand, totally vulnerable, but the reward is in the experience - pleasant or not to remember - make us wise and rich in feelings.

I also learned over time not to confuse being a foreigner with being a foreigner. We must be careful not to fall into an eternal crystallization of labels that often hinder the individual potential of each one of us. Everyone has different fingerprints, as well as a preciously unique personality and character, so don't let others narrow them down.

It is often necessary to put pride aside and be a shrewd observer when we are still apprentices of a culture different from ours, in practice it is necessary to know and be aware of their rights and duties, in the heart humility and the choice of happiness instead of vanity.

There is no magic formula to avoid uncomfortable situations in your new home, however, what I advise - which has often helped me - is to be curious and attentive to every step and challenge of daily life, listen to criticism - and cheers! - and try to accept them even if it takes time. Being open to new friendships and people you can trust, this is essential to feel little by little integrated, and especially to face the daily difficulties with lightness and good humor. This can be a great and infallible remedy.

"Those who don't know foreign languages don't know anything about their own."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Author: Andreia Hollenstein

CRP: 05/36484  

Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalysis

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