On Being a Foreigner

 Bethlehem, 2010

 I was listening to Rick Steve's travel podcast today (as I often do at the Gym - nerd alert) and he was interviewing David Sedaris, Essayist and writer, about his experiences living as an American in Paris and Tokyo.  (I know, Rick Steves and David Sedaris- together!)  Sedaris said something that really resonated with me towards the beginning of the interview.

"I like all the things you don't know when you are in another country.  You watch the other people and you do what they do.  And it makes you more observant"

He articulated my sentiments almost exactly as Max and I stare down the barrel of a very new and very foreign lifestyle.  Like Sedaris, I like being a foreigner.  I like the things I don't know.  There are endless opportunities to observe, learn, delve deeper, and understand more.  He goes on to say that when, out of necessity,  you notice the way people interact with one another on the street you start to notice the funny things written on their t-shirts or "the wooden leg on that man".  

One of my duties as a writing tutor in college was to teach a speed reading class once a month or so.  One of the tricks of speed reading is to follow the line of type from left to right with your opposite hand (the left one for righties and the right one for lefties).  The unfamiliar nature of this action causes your brain to focus more on the words and thus you can comprehend more of the information whizzing through your brain - at least that's the premise.  Being a foreigner is a bit like that for me.  I appreciate more and definitely notice more when everything is new and unusual.  

To be sure, being an American in Israel is hardly being a foreigner.  When my biggest issue here is the lack of chili powder, I know exactly how my "foreignness" stacks up.  But Shuwoyeh, Shuwoyeh as they say in Arabic.  Little by little.  Today I am without chili powder and next year I may in Ghana without clean water.   ...At which point I hope I will remember this post and I hope I won't be too mad at anyone who reminds me that I wrote it.      

(*No News on the Separate-House-Fiasco yet)


  1. I like this post and the thoughtfulness behind it. (I also really like the 'It's OUR blog portion...but for entirely other reasons). Well spoken in both places.


  2. I LOVE David Sedaris. LOVE. Oh, and HI! It's been a while! Looks like you guys are having a great time!