Last night I spoke with a friend of mine and I finished the call annoyed and angry. My friends and I are all nomads and many of us have moved abroad for varying periods of time. This friend, who I called Dan, moved to Taiwan about 7 years ago while I moved to Europe.
When Dan moved to Taiwan, his mom set him up with a home and a job since she has been there for over a decade teaching English. As a blonde haired, blue eyed American with a ready made support system, his immigration as been relatively pain free. Plus, with the low cost of living in his area, he is free from the stress of trying to maintain a decent life style.
I moved to a city in Europe that has consistently been voted among the top 20 most expensive cities in the world. I came on a scholarship that I busted my ass to get, which payed for my graduate degree in Denmark. I moved to my new country after it proved impossible to stay in Scandinavia after my studies. Because I didn’t have a support system, I have worked in several situations that can best be described as exploitative, just to keep a roof over my head and my visa valid. Oh, and I was also homeless for a period of time when my alcoholic roommate decided to kick me out, after she went through my room, stole some shit, and got so irrationally angry with me, I thought she was going to hit me.
While looking for a permanent apartment, I have been told in various ways that I’m not as good as a native. This includes receiving an email sent to me in error, from a real estate agent listing all of my faults, which read, “Overall, she gives a good impression. But she’s a woman so she will complain about the cold, dark-skinned, and speaks English!!!!!!!” (exclamation points appeared in the original message)
I do not begrudge Dan’s good fortune. I do, however, resent his attempt to give me life advice perched up high in his tree of privilege. When I told him everything I was going through when I was couching surfing, he realized how easy things had been for him. You would think that realization would have given him some humility. I guess it was fleeting.
The thing that makes me the most angry is that anyone who knows me knows I am not a slacker. I have and will continue to bust my ass. So it makes me want to punch Dan when he asks, “So what are you doing to make a life for yourself?” What the fuck did you do to make a life for yourself? When you have survived what I have survived and done the things I have done (including cleaning people’s houses like a true fucking immigrant), then you can ask me that question.