Blending In With The Locals
I personally think that blending in is the next step after fitting in: the goal is that no one can guess that you are a foreigner without hearing your accent. After having enough time to enjoy being a tourist, it’s time to look like a local. Even though I’m not a spy or anything like that, I want to be invisible. It makes me proud that I’ve gone further in my “integration process”. Also, that saves me from some annoying things like people who just see you as a wallet and try to sell you some tourist traps.
Key advice: OBSERVATION is your best friend to become a chameleon.
ACT LIKE THEM
I look around me and I can see the way people walk in the street, the means of transport they use, the way they behave, and so on. The most difficult one is probably to observe what they DON’T do that could get me busted. It’s a weird feeling (but also a great one) when people ask for my help to know where they should get out of the bus because they think I’m a typical Italian student in my daily life (which I have been for a few months so far). I’m always trying to seem like I know what I’m doing or where I am going, but of course if I don’t, I just ask.
LOOK LIKE THEM
A chameleon changes color according to the environment, so why shouldn’t we change colors too? The colors of our clothes, obviously. Now that the fashion is standardized with internet and social medias, the “fashion gap” isn’t that big in the westernized countries. Since I have a simple fashion style consisting especially of dark colors, it’s quite easy for me. However, I found myself buying some sparkling clothes and super high heel shoes this year, which I wouldn’t have bought before. I try to keep my style ordinary and same for my hair.
I must admit that being Caucasian and going to countries in which Caucasian people are a majority, I’ve never had problems blending in because of my skin color. But I know it can happen. As an example, my mother couldn’t walk down the street in Thailand (far from tourist areas) without a bunch of people staring at her. The only comment I got so far in Italy was from a sales assistant who heard me speaking another language and she thought I was English because I’m “very pale with freckles”.
TALK LIKE THEM
Speaking the language is essential to blending in. And to go further, using the lingo that people ACTUALLY SPEAK. I mean if you’re making complicated sentences in formal language and stuff like that it’s obvious that you don’t live here. Your academic way of speaking is not natural for locals. I try to remember the most common phrases and also swear words (you’ll memorize them before anything else). They can use them all the time, why wouldn’t I? Of course, NO EXAGGERATION! I must adapt my language to the context.
Also, your accent shows you come from another country, but if you speak the common language then it doesn’t mean you’re not a local. I must admit that sometimes it’s convenient being the foreigner, like when it comes to homework, for example. Teachers won’t be crossed if I do it wrong.
Now it’s your turn to become a chameleon!