I’ve read such a good book recently! I need to share it with you!
I got intrigued by the description of this book that I read on one of the blogs, but the way in which it resonated with me was more than I expected. Such a great metaphor of moving abroad and adjusting to a completely new way of living!
The story begins with Professor Andrew Martin running around the streets of Cambridge not quite feeling like himself. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing, doesn’t know where to go or how to get there, doesn’t understand why everyone is staring at him. He feels like an alien.
Well, he is an alien in professor’s skin! The book shows the journey of an alien who is sent on a mission to planet Earth. He gradually learns about the ways humans live, behave, feel. He gets to know how to express his thoughts in a way that is acceptable to the Humans, he figures out a way to function in a society, he learns the Human language, he starts to understand Human emotions… Boy, he’s got a lot to learn!
At the beginning, he is completely clueless, but with time, he starts to understand certain nuances of human behaviour or at least the dynamics of relations between the human beings. This makes him more aware of himself as an individual, but also himself in relations to others. He starts to understand that having support of another human being, a community, is of great value on Earth. He learns this and much more…
The book is written in an incredibly witty and intelligent way and makes you question your ‘obvious’ reality. Truly brilliant. And it’s not a sponsored article at all, haha!
Does living abroad feel like you are an alien who has suddenly been sent to Earth?
This book is a great metaphor for this. It does. It does sometimes feel like you are a complete weirdo on a completely different planet, when you first arrive to a new country. Especially if you haven’t really prepared for the move. It’s almost as if you are learning from scratch about how to be a good human.
At first, you frantically run around trying to mimic everyone else’s behaviours. You might not be entirely sure what to do in a given situation so you try to blend in. While doing so you start to understand certain cause and effect relationships. You start learning about local customs in more detail. They become a part of your life. You start meeting new people who live there and gather their experiences. Maybe you even become friends with them. You hit a wall – wanting to stay here, but also dreaming of what it would be like if you stayed home. After a while you start making plans in this new location. You begin to understand the reasons behind certain behaviours. What’s more, if you speak to someone back home, you defend these behaviours and reject some of your old ones as the new ones seem better.
The book is great in itself. It gives a completely different perspective on humans, their behaviours and emotions. But when I was reading it, the underlying thoughts, challenges and struggles sounded so familiar. And then I realised that not so long ago I was such an alien. Looked the same, even spoke the language, on the surface all seemed ok. But in reality, adapting was (and still is on some levels!) a process that included quite a big energy contribution, failures, disappointments and challenges of various kinds. And it is worth it. It is a satisfaction of continuous learning about the British culture, heritage and people that keeps me going. It is the progress that I’m making and the new perspectives that I gain through conversations with people that are very rewarding.
If you can, I highly recommend that you read this book. It will be a quick and light read on the surface, but might potentially activate some interesting reflections for you 🙂