As a transplant from Switzerland to the US I have spent half of my life on each continent. When I moved to the US in 1989, I would never have considered myself European: I was Swiss. I had not learned to grow my identity beyond my horizons, which were squarely in Switzerland. When the first person in New York asked me if I was European I actually said ‘no’ as a first impulse. I had to learn to see myself as European… and as white, and so on. It was a transforming and liberating experience.
Not only does learning a new culture give you insight into more ‘truths’ you also learn so much about yourself. About how you see yourself and how the outside world sees you. Most importantly I think you learn to not take yourself for granted – or: you learn not to take yourself too seriously. It’s a great exercise in humility.
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