Growing Up Bilingual Back When It Wasn’t Cool

I still wonder why the kids at school treated me so differently. Why did they have to make fun of me whenever I read during our English lessons? Why did they make me feel embarrassed of who my mother was and where she was from?

A small heads up, my mother is probably the most Western-looking person in the world, from Canada of all places. Yes, still considered an immigrant in this small European country I call home and hell yeah, still treated like shit at times (guaranteed way to make me fly off the handle and attack whoever is making fun of her).

In the deep 90’s of my childhood, being from any other country was different and scary. English was my first language so when I started school, I was thrown into a world with strangers who lacked any connection to foreigners. Up until then, my whole life was foreign because that was my mother’s coping mechanism, finding other foreign women and building a network because it was hard enough not speaking a country’s language, it was even harder not having anyone to relate to.

So here I was, suddenly noticing that kids made fun of me when I talked in what was a correct English accent and it made me feel so bad. It sounds ridiculous, I know. This is like the world’s whitest problem and that’s the point, shit like this shouldn’t even happen.

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I changed my accent so I wouldn’t be made fun of but people still knew who I was. I had teachers ask me where I’m from and when I replied “From here”, they’d give me an ironic look and ask me again. It wasn’t because of curiosity, it was plain old dislike. Keep in mind, this was a country that remained “untainted” and narrow-minded for a long time, up until the late 80’s and early 90’s.

In the same country now, I see younger kids trying to mimic an American accent, even taking catchphrases and intergrating them in their own language and suddenly it’s all good, it’s cool. I’m glad it’s not some sort of taboo anymore but it makes me angry that I was treated differently for the same thing while now it’s widely accepted.

What I do wish is that society around us would stop categorising what is considered a cool nationality, honestly, does it make any sense if you’re Canadian or Spanish or Indian? Do countries have ranks?

I tend to judge people on their personal merits, so if you’re an asshole, you’re an international asshole.