Identity in between cultures

The other day, Gus and me went to a Halloween party of a friend. Everyone was dressed up and we had a wonderful time. That night, we met a couple which is mexican- costarican and the husband which is costarican and me started talking. We are both living in Mexico for some years now and agreed on a lot of things concerning identity and life in Mexico as a foreigner. We talked about food, mexican attitudes and cultural details. The most interesting part for me was agreeing on a lot of things concerning our identity: As we both have been living in Mexico for a while, we miss it when we’re not in Mexico. I always miss the welcoming, warm-hearted people, the sun and the food. Little details that I sometimes find annoying when I am here are suddenly missed when I am somewhere else. Mexico has become my home in a way. I know my way around, I have adjusted to a lot of things and have wonderful memories in this country. Arriving in Mexico means not being somewhere unknown, but somewhere known and loved although it’s also a place where I don’t understand or don’t agree with a lot of things. I wish I could change some things because sometimes I feel really lost and think that this wouldn’t happen in Germany where I really know how things work. However, Germany is not the same place in my imagination and in reality. I only think about the good things that I would like to have here from Germany – a little more order and organisation, being able to trust in others more, chocolates and certain things being easier. When I am in Germany, I notice all the things that are so much better in Mexico and notice so many things I don’t agree on. So in conclusion: When I am in Mexico, I miss some things from Germany and the other way around.

Concerning my behaviour it’s the same thing: I have adopted certain attitudes or behaviours from Mexico but I am still ‘very german’. So my being and my whole identity is actually a mix of both cultures. In Mexico everyone always says to me that I am basically mexican already, but that’s not entirely true, because I feel way to german for being mexican. If you have never been in a situation like this, I guess it’s hard to understand, but if you have, you will understand easily:

Sometimes, I don’t know where I belong. I don’t feel that Mexico is my home entirely, because I am way to exotic here as a german. But I also don’t feel like Germany is my home anymore – the place of my childhood, yes, but it’s not really my home anymore. So yes, there are days when I feel a bit ‘homeless’ or lost. Of course this is the sad way to see it – the best way to see it would be to say that I am at home in both countries on two continents.

The thing is that whenever you leave your home for a while and live in another country, you return as a different person as the person you were when you left the place. Due to all the experiences I made in Mexico that other people in my home never made and most likely never will make, I see things differently than they do. While you have changed, the place has not changed and most people will not understand the feeling of missing a home away from home.

Another thing about identity is to not be ‘the german’ in Mexico and ‘the girl that lived in Mexico’ in Germany. Yes, ok – these things will always influence your life, how you are treated etc., but you can not let it stand in front of your personality. In Mexico it has happened to me a few times that people limit me to ‘the german girl’ instead of getting to know me and my personality. They only ask about things from Germany and not about me. Another problem is to use the ‘being german’ as an excuse for anything. For example it has happened to me and Gus that we didn’t understand eachother and there was a misunderstanding. Sometimes it’s because of the language, but sometimes it’s also because of bad communication and you have to recognize that and not say that it’s because of the language.

I am not good at talking too much with several people I don’t know. When it’s one or two people at the time I am fine, but being in a completely new group of people I need some time to ‘warm up’ and talk with everyone. Before that, I prefer to talk to the people I already know, especially when I didn’t speak Spanish very well. But this is not something that is ‘german’ – that would be an excuse. This is something of my personality and sometimes you have to seperate the personality and the nationality very carefully.

Another thing my mexican family sometimes doesn’t get is that it’s not always easy being away from my family for so long. Sometimes I just get sad from what seems like nothing but that’s because there is this part inside of me that just misses my family and I don’t allow this part to take over me very often. So there are just moments when these emotions win over me and I get sad without any obvious reason. There is nothing I want or can do against it because feeling the emotions is important.

This is what it feels like to live here in Mexico, maybe some of you can understand 🙂



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