FF – Immigrant

Photo courtesy of Brenda Cox (https://brendasrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/)


Walking on the high street is daunting. The signs, the chatter, it’s all alien.  I understand so little, and nothing is familiar. I long for home, even knowing I can never go back.

It gets worse when I learn a few words: sound combinations that stick in my throat and taste strange on my tongue. I am certain I’m saying them all wrong. People cast glances to their friends, ask me to repeat myself, tut and mutter “bloody immigrants”.

I shrink just a little more each time, longing for a place that no longer exists. A place where I belong.


I saw something the other day, that said “respect staff who don’t speak perfect English, most of us would have neither the skill nor the courage to take a job in a language that wasn’t our first.” As an immigrant myself, I cannot imagine moving to a country where I not only had another culture and accent, but a whole different language (or linguistic system in some cases). Brenda’s beautiful photograph fills me with that sense of foreign, and respect for those people who choose to or are forced to come here and must feel similarly daunted… but make it through and thrive.


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42 responses to “FF – Immigrant

  1. You conjure a sense of aloneness and even of brave desperation that I can feel. That’s writing!

  2. You wove great feeling into this well done!

  3. It always helps to try and put yourself in the other person’s place and ask how you would feel or cope. Good take on the prompt.

  4. Anomie is a symptom of modern living, compounded if you’re doing it in a culture you’re not familiar with. I appreciate the sentiments in your extroduction.

  5. I remember traveling and being in a foreign country where I did not speak the language or know the customs. I was ever so thankful when I heard a simple “good morning” in English that I nearly cried for the joy of it. Since that time, I have endeavored to learn how to say hello, thank you, and please in as many languages as I can.

    • Sounds like a wonderful idea, Bear. I definitely think we anglophones are inclined to take it for granted that people will be able to understand us, without much effort on our part.

  6. GHLearner

    Wonderful, empathic story and I love the Extroduction, too.

  7. Great take on the photo, imaginative and compassionate. People will take on all sorts of challenges for the opportunities they are afforded even as foreigners. But no culture or place is perfect in its attitude towards them. Sadly, that’s human nature.

  8. Beautifully told. Loved the extroduction. As someone who’s followed their husband around the world and had to learn 3 different languages in order to get on with my new everyday life, I’ve never ceased to be amazed at the various attitudes towards those trying to express themselves in a foreign tongue. Much to reflect on.

  9. Such a good portrayal of what it’s like to be the outsider. The disorientation, the sinking of confidence and the grieving for what was. So sad and so beautifully done.

  10. Dear Jen,

    You’re echoing a sentiment I’ve long held. Personally I admire and envy those who speak more than one language. I hate it when someone mocks their accents and have been known to ask them how well they’d do in the other person’s country. I do speak some Spanish and my immigrant friends appreciate when I use it. They’re quite gracious about my errors. Perhaps if people traveled more they’d appreciate other cultures and languages. There. You got me started with one of my favorite soapboxes.
    Lovely story. Wonderfully told.

    Shalom y Paz,


    • Get on your soapbox here any time, Rochelle! The world would be a better place if we could all be a bit more gracious and appreciative of each other’s efforts and challenges.
      Thank you!

  11. it’s tough to be uprooted and live in a foreign country. it’s either you survive or die.

  12. The emotion really came through in this piece, Jen. And perhaps it’ll open some eyes. Well done.

  13. This is wonderful. I can feel the narrator’s desire to be part of yet feeling disparate.

  14. I agree, it is difficult to fit in in new and foreign places when you stand out in every which way.

  15. You express beautifully the anxiety that one experiences in these situations.
    As someone who lives in a foreign country, albeit less alien than your portrayal, I understand and empathise.

  16. Stranger in a strange land. I admit I’ve never visited a country where I didn’t already have some knowledge of the language.

    • Well done you for pre-learning the languages, then. I must admit as a tourist I have taken advantage of the almost-universality of English to go to some amazing places where I knew nothing of the vernacular.

  17. Living, not just visiting, outside your heart culture and language can be daunting. You captured that feeling very well!

  18. This is how it feels to be lonely (in the words of the inspired carpets) lovely stuff, nailed it

  19. Intense and heartfelt. Wonderful writing.

  20. Pingback: I Didn’t, But Here’s Some Who Did | The Diligent Dilettante

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