So this post is going to be slightly different than what you have seen so far on this young blog! Indeed, I am honoured to co-write this post with another young alternative fashion & lifestyle blogger who has just started her blog as well! Let me introduce you to my dear Leiden University colleague & friend, Kawaii & pastel goth addict: Daphne. A link to her blog will be posted at the end of this article, so be sure to check it out!
So without further due, we bring you our experiences as the children of the globalised world.
The first thing that has to be defined is the expression “cosmopolitan child”. A cosmopolitan child is someone who has been travelling her/his whole life, changing countries, discovering new cultures and languages. And by travelling I do not mean tourism, I mean actually moving from country to another and having to adapt to the living standards in the country at hand. Now, leading such a way of life has of course its advantages and disadvantages, nothing is all black or white.
Let me start with the advantages. When you change countries quite often, you get to keep meeting new people, new ways of thinking, new everyday life habits, learn a new language and increase your ability to fit in anywhere. Especially when you start doing this at a young age. In my case, I was born in Sofia (Bulgaria) and left the country at the age of 9, when I moved to Lebanon. At the time, I only spoke Bulgarian and a bit of English. So when I arrived to Lebanon, the cultural and linguistic shock was enormous. I had moved from a European country to a Middle Eastern one, and had to learn French and Arabic at the same time, since schools in Lebanon teach 90% of the subjects in French and the other 10% in Arabic. I must confess, learning French came naturally as it still remains another European language. As for Arabic, at the beginning I was so angry at this language because I had to be put back into 2nd grade instead of 3rd in order to learn it more easily and without pressure. The first 4 months of me learning Arabic were pure hell, it was a language that I couldn’t compare to anything else, it was in a completely different linguistic group. But 4 months later, as if a spell had been put on me, I became fluent and beat down all my other classmates in all exams. That’s the beauty of learning languages when you are young. Meanwhile, my French had been excellent right from the start, as I mentioned earlier it came easily, and I had the chance to continue learning English as it was my favourite language and in Lebanon we start learning it at a pretty young age. I had great English teachers, and of course as English is my passion, I self-taught myself even more by reading, listening and speaking. I read a lot when I was young. Hence the evoked passion for English/British literature and culture in my bio (yes go check that one out).
In all 5 countries I’ve lived so far – Bulgaria, Lebanon, France, England, Netherlands – adapting in Lebanon was the hardest because of the big difference in culture as I mentioned. It took me 4 years so I could fit it in completely into society, even though I’m half Lebanese, I was looked upon as the foreigner who weird enough spoke better arabic than us. But in the end, I managed to make friends, adapt and keep at the same time my European identity, which I feel most comfortable with. France, England and Netherlands were much easier to adapt to as they remain European countries and especially because I love and cherish England so much, for me living there for a year was a dream come true! I must confess though, France was the second hardest in terms of adaptation and meeting people. To be honest, I speak English as if it was my mother tongue, I speak it better than Bulgarian because it’s the language I feel most comfortable with; French is a matter of habit although I consider it as a second mother tongue when it comes to the fluency and Arabic is also a native language to me, although I have a more curious relationship with it (sometimes I feel like speaking it, sometimes I don’t). When it comes to the mentality, the Nordic/Scandinavian one is the closest to mine. Having lived in so many places and speaking so many languages has definitely made my personality richer, more unique and it has definitely helped me bring out more freely my dark/gothic side whether it comes to lifestyle, way of thinking, fashion or music. In a way, you become above the different cultures you have encountered, you are your own culture.
Unfortunately, for every good thing there’s a price to pay. Turning to the disadvantages of the cosmopolitan way of life. There are two of them, two sides of the same coin. Adapting never gets easier with time and experience, and leaving people you have become friends with after you have managed to adapt is never less difficult either. But for good friends, distance is nothing, with today’s technology and ways of communication, social media etc, you can always keep in touch and travelling is becoming less and less expensive, so you can always see those far away friends.
To conclude on my part, once you have started leading a cosmopolitan way of life, once you have given in to globalisation, there’s no turning back, you cannot go back and lead a steady life in only one country, you keep needing change, you crave new adventures, no matter how difficult it can be. That’s the beauty of it, the advantages are far bigger than the disadvantages. SERENDIPITY has more chances in crossing paths with you, so let’s go and meet those fortunate discoveries and coincidences. “Run, run through your life
And have fun, Olive-green rainbows above you”.
As Theodora has said, I’m Daphne, and I would certainly classify mystyle as alternative, I love mixing black and Gothic styles with pastel and Kawaii. I am honoured to be asked to co-write this post, and I hope you enjoy the read! I too am a cosmopolitan child, as I grew up in 6 different countries, with vastly different cultures. I will try to follow a similar structure to Theodora, but I tend to ramble a little bit, so forgive me.
For me the advantages of growing up abroad is that I have experienced different cultures, to the best of my ability, when you live in a country you are continually immersed in the culture, when you go to the shop, when you go to town, when you go on “holiday”, and via school. This means that culturally I am very broad, I was raised on rice and curry, and honestly I still love that. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, I would hear the Mosque every day, multiple times a day, and that sound makes me so nostalgic. Sorry I’m rambling again. Any who, advantage one: being immersed in a different culture. Advantage two, I’m bi-lingual, I was raised to speak both Dutch and English fluently, at home we spoke Dutch, and at school we spoke English, so I did not have the same language problems as Theodora, but at school we also learned a little bit of the language of the country we were in, but I don’t remember much of these languages. However since I was raised bi-lingual learning a new language is not as much of a struggle for me. The third advantage for me, is the super close bond I have with my family. My siblings (I have 2) are my best friends, and sometimes were my only friends, my Mother is probably the most important person in my life, since she is the one who kept us all together when the move was hard, who made sure that we kids, were able to adapt more easily.
The disadvantages, there are a few here too, I am culturally confused, I don’t really have a culture or country to call home, I call all these places home. When people ask where are you from, I don’t know what to say, because my taste in food is Arabic or Indian, my cultural identity is all over the place and I don’t really identify as Dutch either. Leaving a country, leaving your friends, you home, your school, never gets any easier, and I don’t know if I will be able to do it again, true with social media it has become easier, but I don’t have ANY friends left from my childhood, not one. My oldest friend is the girl I met the first year of Uni, that was in September of 2010. As I got older, it became harder to make friends, as I was culturally confused, and never really fit in with the rest because of that, at some point, my only friends, were the friends of my siblings, for which I feel guilty because I may have sometimes stolen those friends.
One thing I do know, I will always love having grown up the way I did, I will always need to experience new cultures, and I get a bit of wanderlust from time to time. I will probably end up going back to that life style once I am done with University, but who knows what the future holds. And you will be surprised how many people, are the same as you, the cosmopolitan child, and those people, are friends that will last you a lifetime!
I shall leave the rest to Theodora, as this is her Blog, I hope you enjoyed hearing my experiences too!
So there you go, two different points of view about the pros & cons of being a cosmopolitan child! And I couldn’t agree more with Daphne that not having one place to call home might be a disadvantage sometimes, but I would also like to add that it can be a huge advantage as well, in the sense that you don’t have one home country, you have many! The world is your home, you hold a bit of everywhere within yourself, you come from everywhere! I hope you all enjoyed this post and do not forget to check Daphne’s blog down below!
Dark Kisses ~
Theodora & Daphne
Daphne’s blog: https://arewaien.wordpress.com/