Paula I Arraiza

Being a Foreigner at Home

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.

4 replies on “Being a Foreigner at Home”

I also wrote a chreia and I love the way you finished yours off. I was not able to relate back to myself from Iyer’s post due to living in America my entire life, but your last paragraph about being from Puerto Rico and switching from hating it to loving it once you left was really awesome. This post would good in identifying contemporary travel, the only adjustment I’d recommend is breaking up the last paragraph as it is quite long.

Paula, I really enjoyed reading this piece (and I’m glad travel has enabled you to find ways to enjoy your lovely home!). But I confess I’m not certain exactly how it constitutes a Chreia, which, as the definition states, “refers to a person” (and is also usually quite brief). Also, notice the rather strict structure recommended for a Chreia on the progym. I say this mostly to encourage you to take some risks with this project: the beginning of your post here kinda feels like you feel like this needs to be a “typical” academic summary in some form. It doesn’t! Feel free to get creative, and try things you might not normally. It’s only by doing so that you’ll be able to expand your idea of what academic writing is, and how these different progym moves, once mastered, can actually help make you a better academic writer.

This post definitely caught my eye since the subject, Puerto Rico, is near and dear to my heart since my family lives in Aguadilla. You did a great job of connecting to key points of Iyer’s philosophy back to your own experience. I believe that your feelings towards Puerto Rico, that change of heart after being in college, drives home how travel can also make you reflect and yearn for life back home. However, I feel that there were other progyms that could have better fit for this, maybe an encomium of Puerto Rico for example?

Talking about your experiences, like Iyer, emphasises what you mean in your explaination and analysis and gives me (and anyone else who’s read this) so much context to feel the full emotion of what you mean. I enjoy your writing so much! You give so much detail to the point I feel like I’m with you on your flight back home and watching your excitement to go to the beach from this 3rd person perspective. I will add that for your narration at the end it could be more beneficial to break up your paragraph at a turning point or where you might be able to separate how you feel about Puerto Rico only so that it doesn’t come off as too daunting to read. Fantastic though! I loved reading it!

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