How to be a Foreigner

Not originally from these parts

Not originally from these parts

Brigadier: “Well, naturally enough the only country that could be trusted with such a role was Great Britain.” The Doctor: “Well, naturally. I mean, the rest were all foreigners.”

Fancy being the square peg amongst the round ‘uns? Someone who, perhaps, did not originally use the words “amongst,” or “‘uns”?

Then let’s begin:

1) First, choose your parents: the simplest way to be a foreigner is to persuade your parents to move far, far away.

2) Alternatively, move later in life. Make sure, however, that you move far enough that you’ll look, sound, and / or behave a bit suss. Moving three blocks or even three miles from where you were before just won’t cut it.

3) On the other hand, it might. Villagers are naturally suspicious. So are small children.

I don't think we're in S Yorkshire anymore, Toto.

Zebras? Where?

4) Having moved, get ready for the long haul. As in, the rest of your life.

5) Any good at accents? Then – assuming skin colour isn’t an issue – you may be in with a chance. Try getting the expressions down first: eg, instead of verbally spelling out “sob”, consider the joys of the word for which I substitute the lesser expression “twonk”.

Mug Shot #2

Labels: Sometimes you gotta embrace ’em

6) Get ready for people to smile, comment, and even laugh the first time you swear using expressions favoured in your new country. And the second time, and the third, and the 300th.

It never gets old.

7) Re 6) above, oh yes it does: for you. Not them.

8) You may think I’m banging on about swearing, but it is a vital part of many cultures. Also, by moving countries or areas, you have an unlooked for opportunity to mine a new, rich seam of profanity.

9) Local culture is all. Eg, just because you’re used to people waving flags, and/or going on about God, doesn’t mean such behaviour won’t be viewed with suspicion in your new environment.

10) On the subject of religion, becoming a foreigner may mean you have the chance to pack in your childhood faith, and become the Jedi Knight you always wanted to be. Let’s face it, unless you’ve made the sort of half-assed move which means only the weather and your address have changed, you’re always going to be seen as a bit of weirdo.

So why not buy that light saber, get measured for some white pjs, and a brown cloak, and put out an advert for your very own Padawan?

11) Food: be prepared to be puzzled whilst the locals argue amongst themselves as to whether a certain yeast based object is a “breadcake”, “breadbun”, or “bap”.

These things are important.


Don't know what you're smiling about, mate: you're sat next to a Dalek.

Don’t know what you’re smiling about, mate: you’re sat next to a Dalek.


About Sheila N

Enough about me. Art by Tom Brown.
This entry was posted in Immigrant Me, Labels, Language & accents and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to be a Foreigner

  1. FirstEdition says:

    Sometimes being foreign isn’t the issue, it’s being different. The lone voice when everyone else is chanting the same flawed mantra without question. And by the time others start to realise that maybe you could be right and begin to listen, well it’s usually too late because you’ve moved on!

    • Sheila North says:

      You’re quite right, of course. And being “different” can cover such a wide range, too.

      In “The Universe Versus Alex Woods”, Sheffield author Gavin Extence – via his main character, Alex – lists all the things which can lead to someone being bullied at school. It’s an *extremely* extensive list. Great book, too!

  2. Nimue Brown says:

    that 3 miles down the road thing… rural Gloucestershire. which also provides the best accent in which to say, slightly suspiciously ‘yer not from round ‘ere.’

  3. Leslie says:

    You’ve been awarded the ‘Blogger Recognition’ award! Congratulations! Check out my post “YAY Awards!” at

  4. Sheila North says:

    Cheers, Nimue, this didn’t half make me laugh!I look forward to visiting you and Tom sometime, and being told this.

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