To be honest, writing this article marks the beginning of a new phase of my life. A few days ago I had a realization: I should become Australian.
I mean, not completely Australian, of course. But I should work towards becoming more and more Australian. Maybe you think: hey, isn’t that what a migrant should do? And yes, I totally agree with you. We should adapt to the local culture. But I was never a migrant. I was always a sojourner.
My plan is to stay a few years of my life in one country, and then move on to the next. My dream is to understand as much about the worlds’ cultures as possible. But now I realized this one thing: I shouldn’t be just a guest anymore. I should aim to become as much Australian as possible. I should get involved with local issues instead of looking just at global news. I should read the local newspaper, even the city newspaper, instead of just reading the New York Times. I should act like an Aussie, not like a ‘cosmopolitan’.
You guys will know those type of people like me, who claim to be ‘cosmopolitan’. We are, of course, not cosmopolitan at all. What we do is, we follow a certain ‘international’ culture, whatever that is. The hotel room culture, which is to a big extent based on the Anglo-Saxon culture, if just because of the fact that we all speak English.
No, if I really want to understand the different cultures of the world, I have to get away from that ‘cosmopolitan culture. I have to start being a local. Now I am in Australia. And I should become an Aussie. And when I leave Australia, I will stay Aussie, until I slowly grow into something else. But I will never loose my “Aussie-ness”. Just like I never lost my “German-ness”.
I must admit: I know what happened. What went wrong. My first destination of living abroad was Indonesia. And Indonesia is a country very different from my own, German background. Just because I looked like a “bule”, a foreigner, I could have never possibly become Indonesian. It just isn’t possible. I would’ve always stayed an outsider, no matter how assimilated I would’ve become.
But not all is bad, in that sense. I do feel a very strong attachment towards Indonesia. And I do feel that Indonesia is an important part of my. Hell yes, I even feel Indonesian to a certain degree. But now I want more than that. I want to be Aussie. I know, sooner or later I will move on, but for the time that I am here, I will learn and follow the Aussie way of life. That is my commitment.
At the same time, I also want this to be a wake-up call. We foreigners shouldn’t stay in our international communities. And hey, I am not even claiming that most of us stay with people from our own national backgrounds. What I am saying is that most of us stay with other foreigners. And that we are very comfortable in our ‘cosmopolitan’ role. Being a world citizen sounds awesome, after all. Doesn’t it? I say we should stop being proud of this. I say, if we really are world citizens, then we follow the local culture, not some hotel room culture.
I will try it and report here. Let’s do it, fellow nomads!