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  1. Immigrante Chapter 1: Should I meet up with other immigrants/expats? I've been living in a different country for quite a while now, not to mention that my parents were both born in a different country from where I came from, so technically I've always been considered a foreigner since birth until very recently (the Dutch consider you foreigner if at least 1 parent was born elsewhere, the Poles consider you foreigner if you're born elsewhere, and the Japanese consider you foreigner if you behave and speak differently from locals). So I figured that maybe I should make a little series about living in a foreign country and learning the language of that country. This series is not about how you have to learn, I'm not telling what is a fact and what is a fiction, etc. It's about my personal experience of living in a different country in relation to learning the language, what I recommend you should and should not do, how to avoid obstacles, without affecting your opinions. ---------- From this point on, I will shorten "immigrants or expats" to "IE". Likewise, "host country" will be shortened to "HC", and "language learning" will be shortened to "LL". ---------- So the question of the day is, should I meet up with other IE? When it comes to social contact in the comfort of a language you already know, it's up to you. As for myself, I avoid this. Among the reasons are: It's very likely your fellow IE either don't know the language of the HC (yet), or will want to speak in a different language to you. I don't know why, but with the exception of a very few rare individuals, IE tend to be on the far left in their political beliefs. Disclosure: I have no problem with people on the left, centre, or right, those people are usually reasonable and avoid political discussions where unnecessary (unless they don't know it's political, for example corona virus). Meanwhile, people on the far left, far right, extreme left, and extreme right bring up politics in a lot of situations, and once you show to have at least a slightly different opinion, you'll end up in a conflict, losing the friendships you just made, etc. very quickly. They tend to not explore anything of the HC outside of the tourist traps, and work at international companies together with other IE, so I often end up having way more knowledge and experience about our HC after 2 years than they have after 2 decades. When it comes to LL, you might want to avoid other IE for the 1st reason, 2nd and 3rd reasons are just extra's. The fast majority of my friends and contacts here in Japan are Japanese people, the vast majority of them are monolingual too. I do occasionally make friends with other IE, but I always talk in Japanese to them and don't make it clear that I know any other language. This is to test whether they are OK or not. Other IE probably already have a bunch of IE friends, but the IE that can speak the language of the HC decently fluently are more likely to be on the more reasonable/accepting side when it comes to diversity of opinions and discussions, and due to not being fluent enough to bring up politics (they might do so if they could speak in English or another language they are fluent/native in to you). Plus speaking the HC language even to non-natives adds up to your LL. I did talk to other IE in English during my first few months here, but with the exception to 1 person, everyone broke contact with me after a short time, got angry for some reason, etc. All of them have already returned to their original country a long time ago too. Another big problem with befriending other IE that is relevant to yourself, the locals, and other IE alike: you'll end up in a "foreigner bubble", because of that the locals will never consider you part of society, other IE will constantly remind you of exactly that, and you will never understand your HC and never get past the fundementals of the language (if you're lucky), because there's no need to be able to speak the HC language. If you don't know the language well enough, watch TV, YouTube, etc., listen to the radio, podcasts, etc., read books, comics, internet articles, etc. in the HC language all the time. Search on the internet in the HC language, find a job in HC language and work alongside locals, etc. Your brain will automatically rewire itself to understand the HC language at some point in time. I came to the point to be able to understand Japanese so well, I even discovered a very dark side of this country's political, economic, and cooperate sectors (most recently medical, sexual, and deep state (paedophilia, human trafficking, and cannibalism) too, which are all pretty huge, yet get by unnoticed every single year), a lot of places no other IE has ever even known about, secrets that usually only natural born citizens will know about, how to read between the lines that other IE are unable to wrap their heads around at all, etc., but all of this are subjects for another time. But none of that will be possible if you maintain contacts with other IE in non-HC language. You can be friends with other IE and still progress in your LL, but only if you speak in the HC language to them and they do the same to you. You can be friends with other IE just for social contact, but is this the way to go if you want to spend the remainder of your life in your HC? I don't think so. An example closest to me would be my mum; she was born in Poland, lives in the Netherlands since almost a whole decade before I was born and took Dutch citizen before my birth too, but she socialises with other Poles for the vast majority of the time. As a result, she speaks Dutch with terrible grammar (and I feel like her sense of grammar is getting worse and worse the longer I stay in Japan), doesn't know how to correctly spell words, etc., despite having lived in the Netherlands for almost 40 years now. But at least she is able to win almost any dispute, which is pretty awesome. How comes I can speak Japanese so well after only 2 years in Japan (+ 1 decade of learning beforehand), while somebody living in the Netherlands for almost 40 years in a row still can't speak Dutch well? How comes that western, Indian, some Korean, and some Chinese IE living in Japan for 10? 20? 30? years still can't speak Japanese beyond the basics? Why does this NOT apply to Vietnamese, Indonesian, Nepalese, Burman, Singaporian, Taiwanese, Filipino, some other Koreans, and some other Chinese IE living in Japan for the same amount of time? Do you really believe language skills being "gifted"? If true, why is the ability of LL discriminated by nationality? (or in woke language: is God racist?) And how are you able to speak your native language if you're not "gifted"?
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