When we move to a different country there are few things that happen when we try to relate to the culture. We often choose to challenge it, oppose it, go along with it, and adapt to it.
I have been living in the UK for three years now, believing in myself and going along with society by adapting to it. I can now see the true benefits of diversity, I have been observing, learning, understanding the behaviors of others and modifying my own. All so that, I fit in with the society that I am in.
Back in 2018, I went to beautiful Slovenia. As soon I landed in the country my biggest fear was the language barrier, on top of that I was panicking about catching the right transport. I will never ever forget what happened next! Halfway through the journey, I discovered my backpack was not with me, YES! I left it on the bench outside the airport, where I was waiting for the bus!!! My backpack contained all my documents including my passport…
I went completely numb for a minute, as did not know what to do. The bus driver did not speak English, I stood up and went beside him, told the driver to stop the bus with sign language and got off the bus in the middle of nowhere. I could see a road sign for a petrol station, crossed slowly to the other side, luckily noticed a bus stop with the next bus expected to arrive in an hour. In hindsight, I feel proud of myself that I was very calm at that very moment. I called one of my friends and explained my situation. At that exact moment, I was not thinking about my passport or backpack but I was thinking about my family members, my head was buzzing with thoughts of how they would react if I could not get back to the UK. That would be a disaster. I had not told any of my family members that I was coming for a youth exchange in another country, as they expressed their concerns previously with a course I went on to in Germany.
At the bus stop, I noticed a poster for a taxi company and their phone number. I dialed the number, someone picked up from the opposite side saying “Hello … taxi speaking” yay!!! The person on the other side spoke English, it saved my life. But the problems started when he asked me “Can you tell me where you are at the moment?” Oh, dear! I ran to a car in a petrol station, and a beautiful lady came out. I asked her for help, unfortunately, she could not understand what I was saying. I passed the phone to her and the driver spoke with her. Then the driver told me he was coming to pick me up in 15 minutes.
The kind driver took me to the airport in 10 minutes, my bag was not where I had left it. Seeing this the driver told me: “take my card with you, if you need me, I will come and help you, now you should go inside the airport, it must be somewhere” Meantime I called the organization to let them know about the situation, searched the whole airport. The backpack is nowhere to be found, I ended up sitting in the same place where I lost my bag. Suddenly I saw a police officer walking towards me, I stood up and explain everything to him. He smiled at me and said oh! So, you are the one, we were about to report, come with me to the office. Your backpack is there. Ufff! I was finally breathing normally then.
I had to face some question though, they asked me I am Bangladeshi citizen then what I am doing in Slovenia. I had to show them my BRP card and written documents of EuroPeers UK. Same time my organization from Slovenia called and spoke with the police officers too.
The reason behind telling this horrible story is that some of us see the world through cultural glasses, the lens through which our brain sees the world shapes the reality. If we can change the lens, not only we can change the way our brain perceives behaviors, but we can change the people relate to cultural differences. Facing this incident and overcoming it by MYSELF made me feel how independent and self-sufficient I became. No matter how different we are in terms of race/culture or rituals, at the end of the day we are all human with a bunch of positive emotions and kindness.
Getting out from my comfort zone does not mean “TROUBLE” IT IS ABOUT TAKING CHALLENGES. CHANGING CULTURAL GLASSES FROM BLACK AND WHITE INTO THE ONES SEEING IN COLOUR!
By Nurjahan Ema