A Fish Out Of Water

Listen to seven foreigners speak about their first impressions and struggles over the first year in Slovakia.

Once we know ourselves, with the help of foreigners, we can pull back the curtain of culture to reveal our shared humanity.Once we know ourselves, with the help of foreigners, we can pull back the curtain of culture to reveal our shared humanity. (Source: Pexels)

The Na Slovensku Aj Po Anglicky podcast, with the support of Fjuzn, is continuing its series on the migrant experience. In this episode, they are looking at some of the first challenges faced by newly arrived migrants and the feelings these foreigners had for Slovakia and its people.

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First impressions are everything

Travelling in a foreign country is a heady mixture of sights, sounds, scents and flavours. These experiences are imprinted on the mind as the identity of a nation. So, they are especially meaningful when a person chooses to reside in a new and foreign land.

For some recently arrived migrants in Slovakia, these first impressions may be shaped by adventure, exploration, hospitality, and indulgence. Whereas others are instantly met with the realities of making a living in a society very different from their own. Just taking a bus or shopping for groceries can be a harrowing experience for the uninitiated in Slovakia, leaving the impression that the locals are rude and unwelcoming. Communication can be strained with limited Slovak skills or an absence of a useful alternative language, leading to limited opportunities and unmet needs.

Why opinions matter

Despite the countless struggles these migrants face, many choose to stay in Slovakia. They take the challenge of the local language head-on, practicing how and where they can. These brave souls venture out of their comfort zones and study the locals customs and way of living, so they may achieve a degree of integration and inclusion. Migrants are woven into the fabric of Slovak society. They work alongside Slovaks and help shape the future of the country.

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To know one's culture is to know oneself. Culture governs thoughts and actions, but often it is difficult to define one's culture without contrast. This is where foreigners provide an essential service. Their questions and unique perspectives offer that contrast necessary for highlighting the borders of culture. They shine a light on the beauty of Slovakia and the failures in society. Ultimately, once we know ourselves, with the help of foreigners, we can pull back the curtain of culture to reveal our shared humanity.

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