Outsider feeling, does it ever fade away?

“Do I still feel like an outsider while I am 5 months deep into this journey?” When I first heard this question, I instantly had my answer. I do feel like an outsider, a foreigner, a stranger, whatever you want to call it. However, alongside it is way less discomfort and personal prejudices, and more of what we call resilience and enthusiasm. I would be lying if I said I stopped looking for some sense of belonging and connections. 

It took me 5 months to realize I can never shake off the uncomfortable “outsider” feeling while studying abroad. Desperately trying to get rid of it will only make it last longer, stubborn like an intrusive thought. Concluding that it is necessary for the experience as an international student was hard to accept, but here we are! We are communicating and always after the chances of making meaningful relationships, while we pursue our academic goals! Thriving, aren't we? 

I should point out that this feeling is common in one’s own country too, but when you’re abroad it unlocks another level of reminiscing for the smallest details. Be it the early morning smell of coffee in the streets, that one stray cat who wants to play, or the familiar face features of everyone you love, the community that is formed brings a sense of warmth and homeliness that is unforgettable.  

When I came to BHSU, I naturally gravitated towards the international community. We were people who did not share each other’s language, so we all made the same effort employing empathy and listening to what we really wanted to say, beyond the stutter and the mispronunciations. We were all simultaneously hitting the language barrier hoping to tear it down. Something about that was so heartwarming.  

Eventually, we started hanging out more in the coziness of the international office. We watched movies, dwelled on our homework inefficiently since we could not stop talking, we told scary stories, and we planned our next events on campus. We all felt comfortable to be outsiders together while we desperately searched for conversations beyond the usual superficial small talk and tittle-tattle. 

I kept wondering if all my surroundings’ newness would eventually fade into familiarity, until one evening, when I was walking back from the gym to my dorm, and I realized I got accustomed to the routine. I immediately tried to hurry, think of my routine back home and how nostalgic it was.  

All in all, Having the never-ending feeling of looking for connections and the looming sense of belonging is always there, but if you fall into the right people’s crowd, the friends that resonate with you, it will be silenced and pushed back until you change your surroundings all over again. That is how we survive as humans, like trees in a forest growing roots to build a whole web of connections underground.