Posted by: oviazcan Anécdota 1 comment

The justified anger (Assimilating my arrival to the UK)

Nota para mis lectores hispanoparlantes: por algún tiempo estaré escribiendo en ingles con el propósito de mejorar mi habilidad de redacción en este idioma, pero pueden recurrir a un excelente traductor en línea de google para leer mis posts en español: http://translate.google.com o directamente: ViazcanFilms en español

I have to admit it: I’m angry. I didn’t know what it was at first. I thought it was just the intercultural shock, the British and the Mexican culture clashing together, but now that I begin to assimilate it… it just doesn’t feel right.

But please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about my experience in Manchester being bad or anything like it, but you didn’t expect a typical “traveller’s blog post” coming from me, did ya? (For some great traveller’s blog post, please visit: Fernando Brodeschi’s blog and Filippo Dattola’s blog)

The racial difference…

– Chast X rei! Nott medikal lettirs, bat Chast X rei!- The Indian doctor at the immigration office was noticeable upset.

-But I read everything on the webpage and it said nothing about a Chest X-ray! – I replied.

– Uh! Whatt dd yu want? The queen of Inglnd comin ta tel yu!? Everdrybaddy nids a Chast X rei when comin to the UKai to stady fr mor than sics mnths!

– Uh, six months you said? Maybe that’s the problem; I’m only here to stay for four months!

– Then, whatt ar yu duin hir! Gettout!

This is how my 4-hour-wait at Manchester’s airport ended. My plane arrived 20 minutes late (7:20am) and I had to meet my landowner at 8:30am and my academic coordinator at 11. It was already eleven am, and the Indian physician didn’t look at all as my academic coordinator!

Many things are just business as usual in the airport: students being asked for visa letters and other evidence to confirm that they are not illegal immigrants, people getting double-checked for influenza, and some mistakes when you tell the officers you are here for four months and they send you to the guy who filters out the more-than-six-months immigrants. But something made me angry: when we arrived, the “Other passports” line (which is the politically correct way to say “Non-British and Non-European-Community-born”) was pretty much at the same distance from the immigration officers that let you in, than the “British or European Community Citizens”’ line (local citizens’ line). So, the witty officers decided to completely stop the Other Passport’s line until the local citizens line was emptied, which of course took years. Then, the line for Other Passports began to be serviced. I said: ok, ok, is their country, let them feel that they deserve preference. But how big was my surprise when they kept doing the same thing all over again every time other flights arrived!

European average waiting time: No more than 10 minutes.

Non-European average waiting time: 4 hours.

I told my new American friend E*** the story, he had to wait also a lot of time, but not as much as me. E*** reply was: “Oh, it’s ok, it surely sucks, but if I was them, I would have done the same thing for my people!”

All I could do, was to faint a smile on my face and mumble to myself: “He had to be an American!”

Beatlemania!

How have The Beatles influenced history? According to the Beatles Museum, Oasis, U2 and other important music groups credit The Beatles on influencing their own music. But The Beatles influence is not near to end in the confinements of music, they have influenced a complete generation that stood up for what they believed; and some still do, even when the structures that used to hold their initial assumptions have already been broken down by new knowledge.

As I wandered around through the most emotion-filled halls of the museum, I started to actually feel excited with the lives of each of the members of the band: how they started, their love stories, their successes and failures, and at the end, their end. How great is their influence! How have they changed the way we think and therefore the World itself! They DO deserve to have some streets named after them, right?

Well, I do think so but, (generally) do the lyrics of their songs actually portrait any “influencing coherent ideology”? Not consistently. It was only after they split apart that their music started to actually take the shape of each of their convictions. Before that, their music was all about simple shallow stories and psychedelic trips to the hallucinating world of drugs and self-destruction. (Sorry Beatle-fans, I know it sounds awful, but you know I speak truth here). Even when what they did together changed the music industry, it was not until they started using music as a “weapon” that their message started to stick in.

What was their message? “Give peace a chance”, “and the world will live as one”, etc. I wish that one day, I could send a message half as loud as The Beatles did, but in the meantime, as I finished my visit to The Beatles museum, I was angry. I was angry at knowing that this country gave birth to The Beatles and their influence, and still has people killed for standing up after their football team, still has such great cultural barriers to include others in the way they do politics and diplomacy, and still leave foreigners to wait 4 hours in the immigration line. Angry at knowing that even if I happened to change the World the way The Beatles did, it would not be enough. Angry at my ironic state as a human being: why is it that I keep finding something inside of me that pushes me to keep trying?

“Imagine all the people…”

The Mexico’s Independence yell (very far from Mexico!)

As crazy as it may sound to the ones who have known me for years, sometimes I just simply stick to the rules (For the wannabe-psychologists this is not surprising, as sometimes “not sticking to the rules” implies not sticking to the rule of “not sticking to the rules”, resulting in an actual rule compliance). Anyway, this was one of the rare occasions in which I did. My acceptance package from Manchester Business School stated: go and register in the International Society and so I did. I was a little downhearted as I spent my Sept. 16th day on the airplane on my way to Manchester so I could not celebrate the so-called traditional Mexico’s Independence yell, but I was relieved when I spotted a poster trying to recruit as many Mexicans as possible for a late Saturday 19th celebration in Manchester. Of course, you are by now guessing right, I did not hesitate and bought my ticket.

I was coming back from Liverpool and my friends and I hopped on the wrong train so I have to admit that I was very late. However, I had already bought my ticket and I wanted at least a drink or two for it (I didn’t arrive on time for dinner, though )-: ) The party wasn’t at all good: I didn’t know anyone, the “salsa” the band was trying to play was more like a Texan-style Manu-chao version of traditionally unknown songs; and there weren’t any folkloric Mexican decorations (the party was being held in an Italian Restaurant, but they didn’t even have an Italian flag, which is very similar to the Mexican one). The Italian barman felt sorry for me because I told him my story and why I was late, so he gave me my soft drinks for free. Half of the people there were Mexicans (gathered in closed “nobody-else-allowed” groups, as usual) and the other half was composed of a diverse array of people from different nationalities but that had no idea of what was going on (most of them didn’t even care, as expected from an outsider of our Mexican culture). I spoke to a couple of groups, trying to make some friends, but no conversation was kept for long enough to achieve my goal.

I was very angry. Angry at the people there, not being Mexicanly friendly. Angry at the Italian bartender that did not want to serve me dinner anymore. Angry at myself for having wasted 12 pounds on a lousy Mexican celebration that I could have easily spared for the sake of my new adventure in the UK…

But then something happened: some girl took the microphone and in a lousy English, started to thank everyone for coming. She was the new president of the Manchesterian Mexicans Union and was about to lead us in the celebration of our Independence Yell! All the Mexicans (including me) were yelling ¡VIVA MÉXICO!, and finally, the National Anthem (with its war related lyrics) started to play. The Mexicans were singing it at the top of their lungs, something that I have never seen or heard before (it sounded more like a broken wagon’s wheel, but you could tell that we were putting a lot of effort into it). Some of them even let a couple of tears flow and at the end everybody started hugging as if it was Christmas or the end of the World as we know it.

This experience struck me. What is it that makes you feel so different outside of your own country from the way that you feel when you live in it? What is it that makes you forget for a moment any possible criticism that you may have against your government, your culture’s flaws or even your personal sad stories (when they were experienced in the country that gave you birth)? What is it that makes you scream your National Anthem as if there was no tomorrow, not because you understand the lyrics, but only because it reminds you of the place that heard your very first baby cry?

Suddenly, the anger went away… now I was proud.

Note: this three mini-posts have something in common, try to guess what it is and comment!

1 comment

  • Omar Licona 15 November, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Tocayo, believe me you are not alone…. the experience of living in the UK specially in Manchester is so different, perhaps my best description of it is to compeare that with a sweet and sour dessert

    Reply

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