Fellow blogger friend Diane, an American in France, made the following statement in her post WHEN LIVING ABROAD TURNS YOU INTO A MODEL FOREIGNER:
"IT’S AS IF I’M OVERCOMPENSATING FOR MY NATIONALITY’S PERCEIVED SHORTCOMINGS".
Hers is an interesting perspective because of the negative perception many people have about Americans but it's not a reason for my own behaviour. I can't relate. Canada is normally a very well-received country when you're abroad, the issue is that Italians don't associate my tan, eye shape, or jet-black hair with my beloved country. These characterstics are associated by default with economically poor South Asian countries. They tell me I look like the Thai girls that they've seen on vacations and I turn away because I don't want to think about what they bought from those girls. The leering continues, but that's another story for another post.
All this overthinking and overcompensating is in an effort to convince the average Italian that in some way, I’m different, better, not to be slumped in a collective category of ignorant immigrants that refuse to integrate or don’t have a clue about how to function in a First World country. But I’m not different or better or more deserving, because ignorance isn’t the name of a document to be slotted in a folder with the words IMMIGRANT scrawled across the front. It is the very driving force as to why I feel compelled to think and behave in this way in the first place. If we could only learn to look at each other objectively, each and every individual person given a blank slate and only then, start building an opinion, there would be no need for someone like me to prove something. There would be no quest to be the perfect immigrant and I could just be me, a 29 year-old Canadian immigrant in Italy that occassionally recycles and speaks grammatically incorrect Italian at the worst moments.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at these ones:
Random Everyday Things That Annoy Me in Italy
My Biggest Language-Related Pet Peeve: When Locals Switch to English
My Second Biggest Pet Peeve in Italy: Terrible English Translations
Musings on Being Racially Ambiguous in Italy
A Bad Expat Language Moment
Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side of the World?