“Being a Foreigner is Like Being Pregnant”: Quote of the Week


“…being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy – a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.”

– from ‘The Namesake: A Novel’ by Jhumpa Lahiri

Would you agree, my fellow foreigners?? (“The Namesake” is a GREAT book, by the way. I haven’t been able to put it down. Such a fascinating look at being a foreigner, and a new perspective on America. I share her ache for feeling out of place…!)

*photo ‘Drunken Bride (In Moscow) Christmas Lights by Donald Weber, for sale at 20×200

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7 Responses to “Being a Foreigner is Like Being Pregnant”: Quote of the Week

  1. I’m intrigued and will have to seek out that book…
    Have you seen the Interaction International website?
    Jennifer Dougan

    • Jen, the book is beautifully written – less about immigration later, but really great writing. I enjoyed it. I haven’t seen that website (well, i just looked it up after you told me) :). Immigration and third culture kids are a big topic around here, though…

  2. I am going to read this book for sure. This quote is amazing. It’s like somebody read my heart! thanks!

    • The quote is really good, isn’t it? I’d definitely recommend the book. The first part deals a lot with being a foreigner, the second part is more about 3rd-culture kids and having parents as foreigners. It’s beautifully written though…..

      • I’ve got two kids who were born here in U.S. Myself I’m first generation immigrant. that;s why in my case It’s always good to know more about the issues of bilinguality, multicultural families. looking forward to reading that book.

  3. Lppageguitar says:

    Why have you all decided to stay if its that bad?? I’ve been here two months and I already want to leave.

    If you’re married can’t your spouse and children move to the US with you?

    • Thanks for all your really open comments – I completely feel your pain about Moscow!! Re: your question – making a decision to move to another country is complicated and time-consuming, as I’m sure you very well know. We haven’t moved for a number of reasons 1) My husband is Russian (the transition isn’t as straightforward/easy for him), and both of us have jobs in Moscow right now. Technically we can move whenever we want, but we would prefer to have secure jobs in the U.S. before just flying, so there’s that. 2) I have a love-hate relationship with Russia here. I want to go, but I want to stay. I know, I know. I can’t help it. 3) Culture shock goes in waves, I think. This spring and summer were incredibly hard for me – I just wanted to get out of here. This fall, however (after taking a nice long break and seeing my family) I am really enjoying myself. I think there are a few key things for keeping me content here: a) work/a project that I’m excited about (moving towards a goal is so inherent to human happiness, don’t you think?). b) Very good, close friends that I can see on a regular basis (community/relationships, etc). and c) a healthy environment or enjoyable experiences (museum visits, good cafes, conversations with intelligent/kind/fascinating people (there’s loads of them in Russia, I promise!!! I’ll introduce them to you, if you like!) :), exercise/healthy eating, etc. I think where you’re at, in your first year here is the hardest because you don’t know what to expect, and you don’t know where to find these things you need to feel grounded/balanced/content that you probably had in the U.S. …….

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