A qualitative research was conducted to explore the experiences of people of being a foreigner. A qualitative approach was adopted in order to gain a sound understanding of the opinions, motivations and reasons of the participants. Data collection encompassed conduction of interviews that helped in obtaining highly personalized information and also created opportunities of investigating underlying factors that influenced experiences of the participants (Alshenqeeti 2014). This essay will summarise the interview responses and will also discuss the application of the findings.
Summary- The interviews were conducted separately with three different persons namely, James, Ava and Kevin. While James considered his being a foreigner to be a normal process and demonstrated indifference towards the diversity between his culture and that of others, Ava’s responses suggested that her foreign roots often made her feel unwanted in the community where she could not feel a sense of belonging. In contrast, Kevin’s interview responses indicated that he resented being a part of the foreign community owing to the fact that it makes him feel special about himself and his diverse culture. Ava’s antipathy against the community can be traced to her Indian-African descent and the constant stigmatization and discrimination that she has been subjected to, owing to her ethnic and racial background. Furthermore, the constant stereotyping attitude displayed by the members of the community against her makes her feel an outsider who is continuously mistreated on grounds of race and culture.
Her experiences have also been influenced by the ill-treatment that her family has suffered in several instances in the past. Thus, she feels extremely bothered of being a foreigner in a land where the people do not demonstrate any respect towards her culture and background. Responses of Kevin that indicated his dislike of being a part of the community can be attributed to lack of language proficiency. Minimal contact with the community members have further influenced his idea of staying alone. In addition, he enjoys belonging to a diverse ethnicity and feels good to represent himself as the first American, with whom several people interact. Although he is not quite a part of the wider society, the prevailing environment makes him feel ‘at home’, similar to what he felt when he were at his household. Kevin’s love for the foreign land had made him feel low and depressed on visiting home, the last time, and he is alarmed by the same this time as well. The different opinions presented by James is also attributed to his language incompetence and the existing cultural differences in Germany. He also does not feel wanted in the community due to his inefficiency in expressing his intended thoughts and feelings. However, he stated that he stay in Colombia was more enhancing as the locals displayed an interest in understanding his culture and values. Nonetheless, he also stated that being a foreigner often comes with the weakness of being exploited.
Application and reflection- I learnt from the interview responses summarised above that language plays an important role in abroad. While moving to a new country it is highly possible that a person will not be conversant with the new language (Van der Zee and van Oudenhoven 2013). This in turn will create difficulties in communication and will prevent the foreigner from making local friends and acquaintances. Cultural differences can also pose challenges at a new nation. Hence, efforts must be taken to eliminate social tension that arises as a consequence of linguistic and cultural dissimilarities. The tensions triggered by culture can also be aggravated by economic variances (Mesidor and Sly 2016).
Thus, it is imperative for us to prevent demonstrating any stereotyping or discriminating attitude towards people who belong to different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Continuous stigma and discrimination have been found responsible for the onset of several mental disorders that take a toll on the overall health and wellbeing of the affected person (Drapalski et al. 2013). Manifesting a positive and welcoming attitude towards foreigners across all ethnic and racial groups will inculcate in them a sense of belonging towards the community. This in turn can be fostered by demonstrating a desire of learning about the values, customs, religion and language of the foreigners.
Conclusion- Thus, it can be concluded that although being a foreigner allows the person to enlarge their spirits and mind and instils a sense of self-accomplishment, they often become victims of xenophobia. The interview responses for this qualitative research stated that the participants were often subjected to stereotypes about their nationalities or heritages and experienced a culture shock, depending on the severity of difference between the two nations. To conclude, there is a need to eliminate language barriers and help the participants get acclimatised to the culture shock.
Alshenqeeti, H., 2014. Interviewing as a data collection method: A critical review. English Linguistics Research, 3(1), p.39.
Drapalski, A.L., Lucksted, A., Perrin, P.B., Aakre, J.M., Brown, C.H., DeForge, B.R. and Boyd, J.E., 2013. A model of internalized stigma and its effects on people with mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 64(3), pp.264-269.
Mesidor, J.K. and Sly, K.F., 2016. Factors That Contribute to the Adjustment of International Students. Journal of International Students, 6(1), pp.262-282.
Van der Zee, K. and van Oudenhoven, J.P., 2013. Culture shock or challenge? The role of personality as a determinant of intercultural competence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(6), pp.928-940.