As a foreigner living and working in Berlin I am required to make at least one mission a year into the heart of darkness commonly referred to as the Aliens Authority. Over the top literary references aside, it is always an Orwellesque affair and today’s visit was no exception. Sitting in the cold, grey waiting area, wrapped in the barely audible whispers of the other “aliens” waiting to have their number called, I flipped through my copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and stopped for a moment at this quote: “Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.” Reading this reminded me of a song that mirrors and contextualises this notion of being an alien:
“We’re walking on a thin string
But I know the Lords got the whole thing in his hands
We’re strangers in this land
But together could make our way home
Make our way home” – Josh Garrels, Songbird
Living in a foreign country has been an often disorientating, sometimes isolating but never boring experience and I would not trade it, and everything I have learnt through it, if given the opportunity. The people I have met, the places I have seen, the culture that has somehow stolen my heart and the language that I am learning have added immeasurable wealth to my life. Here’s to walking this tightrope with eyes, ears, heart and mind wisely open.