Type of Progym: Chreia/Anecdote
Iyer’s article, The Foreign Spell, mostly talks about how no matter how much time we spend in a country that isn’t our home, we will never get to know it and understand it as much as a local in said country. He uses anecdotes from his own travel experiences, sharing stories from trips to Bali to living in Japan for more than twenty years, to help us understand his claim that we’ll never truly know a place unless we’re from that place. Iyer uses these anecdotes to teach us about how traveling should be about embracing the unknown. He concludes his article by saying that
“It’s a blessing to be a foreigner everywhere, detached and able to see the fun in things.”
Iyer believes that being a foreigner is a good thing since it gives you a different perspective on the place you’re at. Even if you’re not from a place that is heavily visited by tourists, like New York or Los Angeles, we sometimes tend to forget the beauty of the place we live in. This is because we’re so used to having certain things close to us that we take them for granted.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of taking my home country for granted. Growing up in Puerto Rico, it’s easy to become somewhat desensitized to the beautiful sights around you, or the year-round tropical weather. I never understood the beauty this island has to offer until I moved away, and the beach was no longer a five-minute car ride away, or I had to wear layers of clothing to keep myself somewhat warm. If someone asked me a year ago if Puerto Rico was worth visiting, I’d tell them there’s nothing worth seeing here, and they should rather go somewhere else. I hated the place I spent basically ninety-nine percent of my life in because I had become so used to all the exotic sights around me. This hate of my country got to the point where I would cry every time I boarded a plane to go back home, it would frustrate me to have to go back to what I considered to be such a boring place. There was nothing I hated more than spending a weekend away at the beach, which sounds completely crazy when you hear it. It wasn’t until I spent time away that I came to realize the privilege I had of living in the middle of a tourist destination. When coming back for winter break during my freshman year of college, I was so excited to experience all the things I hated about my hometown before. For the first time in years, I didn’t cry on the plane to Puerto Rico, I felt the same type of excitement you feel the night before a big trip. I spent the two weeks I was at home going to the beach nearly every day and enjoying the weather I so badly wanted to get away with. I experienced first-hand what Iyer mentioned. Coming back made me feel like I was a tourist, I began to be excited about things that had always been there, taking pictures and Instagramming every chance I got. Even though I wasn’t technically in a completely foreign place, going away for an extended period made me feel like a foreigner in my home once I came back. It gave me a different perspective of the island I grew up in and helped me learn to love it instead of hating it. I had grown to be so accustomed to certain things that I forgot how lucky I was, and moving away made me able to detach myself and see the fun in my hometown, just like Iyer mentions happens when you visit somewhere new.