I Am Not a Foreign Exchange Student

Oh I do not know but I have heard this statement too many times this month. Is it my strikingly long, black hair? Or maybe it is my Asian-esque face gracing the streets of Nova Scotia? Perhaps it is my very Calgarian accent that throws people off…whatever it is it has gained a lot more attention than it needs.

I have always wondered how having a different colour of skin mattered when it came to introductions. For example, I usually do not ask Caucasian people if they are from Canada or Europe because of their pale skin. Or if they are part of the Swedish community. I however have been asked if I was part of the Filipino, Native or Foreign exchange student community. This question coming from people who I have only just met I might add. The common response I have received from people who discuss this matter with usually begin with, “Well you are different looking than what most people are used to.” What I find funny is that I have never felt this way when meeting someone of a different race and this response usually comes from Caucasian people.

Oh god. Don’t even get me started when they ask where my parents are from, as if that might help solve the ethnicity puzzle.

Tell me I’m not crazy for feeling this way.


3 thoughts on “I Am Not a Foreign Exchange Student

  1. giapatoi says:

    I think it all depends on the fact that Caucasians usually think they are the hosts and different ones like you necessarily have to be a guest.
    The same thing happens when an Italian, Caucasian, like me travel to india, africa or east ……… anyway: you’re not crazy

  2. Mark Levin says:

    You are definitely not crazy. But I think you are observing something about human nature. When you are with a group who are all the same, they expect everyone to be the same. In my city, there are school districts that are 100% white. If you visited there, you would attract attention for your differences. My particular school district hosts students from nearly 25 countries. Everyone is different and everyone blends in. The high school has clubs to promote diversity and acceptance.

    Now, when I travel to China, people approach me to ask if I am from America (and then ask for a job or a job reference!). I wonder what you experience would be if you visited one of the Asian communities in Toronto. My Thai daughter wants me to take her to our Asian community several times a week. She seems to be comfortable there. I don’t know if it is the sights, or the sounds or the smells.

  3. Mom says:

    You would not have that issue if you had gone to university of calgary. Or U of T for that matter. Or UBC or U of Vic……… But seriously, you should start asking the Caucasian students where they are from.

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