June 21, 2013

unexpected feelings

On the 19th of June John Oliver did a good bit on Obama visiting Germany for the first time since 2008 when he was still a presidential candidate. Unfortunately he didn't have nearly as good of turnout as his first visit, although I've gathered that Germans are still pretty supportive of his presidency. This bit made me think again about several news stories as of late, including the NSA scandal, protests in Turkey and what it's like to be a foreigner in general. As an American who is now an immigrant I have a lot of sympathy for people trying to carve a niche for themselves in new countries. It's not easy, and I don't think anyone should criticize them unless they themselves have also experienced the struggle of learning a new language, eating new food, using new currency, adapting to a new culture, etc. (the list goes on and on!) I currently tutor a young Turkish girl in English, although we mostly like to hang out and talk or watch movies (which is also a great way to learn a language). She has several cousins who are involved in the protests in Turkey right now, where there is a lot of malice towards the current president, Erdogan. She and her family are very angry about the whole situation, and it made me realize that besides having to adapt to "dual lives" as immigrants, it's also a challenge to see things happening in your homeland that you cannot do anything about and aren't experiencing firsthand. I first noticed this when the shooting at Sandy Hook happened, and my husband and I (as well as my parents, who were visiting) had to watch CNN from 5,000 miles away. The feelings of helplessness were overwhelming, and it's yet another part of living in a foreign country that immigrants must deal with every day. I had no idea that it would be such a strong emotion, especially with modern technology broadcasting up to the minute news. Perhaps it's not being surrounded by your own people, or maybe it's the time difference, but something about being far away during tragedy is a new and unexpected feeling for me, and one that I'll have to learn to handle as my new life here progresses.

P.S. John Oliver's jokes about Germany are hilarious - I suppose "butter on the tongue" is a great way of describing the German language!