Living abroad is a unique experience to leave your comfort zone and make new friends, right? Not necessarily. In the last few years I have lived in a few countries, had housemates and roommates from around 18 countries (Austria, Mexico, Romania, Italy, Egypt, USA, France, Brazil, Italy, Morocco, Sudan, South Sudan, India, Spain, Netherlands, Colombia, Paraguay, Pakistan), men and women with different religions, people who ate with their hands and people who prefer spoons, some that woke up super early to pray and other who didn’t believe in any God.
During the last few months in DC I realized how sometimes people like to reproduce things that not necessarily is true. In the fellowship there are some regional clusters, people with similar cultures and religions that tend to be more close together. Some have told me that this is natural, but I disagree. One may question whether the type of music you listen or the way you eat your food is natural, but they are socially build and certainly depends on which part of the world you were born. I do not leave my comfort zone if I only hang out with Latin people, listen to music that I knew before or complete understand. For me to leave my comfort zone is to get lost in some English dialect that a Nigerian singer uses or struggle to eat rice with my hands and just have a blast! To leave my comfort zone is to struggle putting my feminist ideas aside and do my best not to judge in the first minute of a conversation when a friend explains why in some countries the men must be served before the women. To leave my comfort zone is to laugh when my friends are laughing at me trying to understand how their cultures work. To leave my comfort zone is to admit I have ethnocentric views and ideas and I need to change that, and not be afraid to verbalize them to start this process.
At a party last weekend there were some of these regional clusters, each time one would put their music the others would leave the living room; that happened with all musical styles. Joking with a friend I told her how I wondered if we cannot really integrate at a party how can we talk about world peace, global rules, international human rights? It can be a silly parallel but living abroad is not enough to leave a comfort zones and/or to create a global view.
-> This post is for some special African fellows (Michael, Nabeel, Lawrence) who have taught me so much about their cultures, who share their amazing food, who introduced me to amazing popular music and to Poni, my dear housemate who besides being amazing, won’t let me give up to learn how to move my body :p