stranger = someone you don’t know
foreigner = someone from another country, whether you know him or not.
in Croatia we are usually “strangers“.
Instead of “foreigner” the dictionary translation for a person who comes from abroad could translate as “stranger“. This is not just common in the Croatian language, but the same is true in Spanish or Italian. You need to know the subtle difference in order to use the correct word in the English language.
Quite a few Croatians refer to foreigners as “strangers” and sometimes, we find ourselves using this word in conversation too, as it is easier to explain to Croatians what we mean.
I guess some habits of tourists and people visiting Croatia can also seem strange or unusual to the locals, so they probably think “strange people those English“… so foreigner and stranger sometimes overlap.
In our experience we are seen as “strangers” on a number of instances, for example:
-drinking tea. We’ve been told that Croatians only drink tea “when they are sick in bed with fever“, Croatians love their coffee (or beer or rakjia) and tea is for English people, and we’ve even been told “we’ve seen English people drink tea by the pool in August when temperatures can reach 40 C“. Strangers… Engleski!…
-blacks and Asians – most Croatians are white. You don’t see many non-white people on the Dalmatian coast, and as Mr C is black, when we first went to Croatia one of the first people we became friends with, was concerned about how her 6-year-old son would react when introduced to a black man for the first time. This little boy called Karlo had obviously seen black people in the movies on TV, but never in person. But you know what kids are like, he took it all in his stride and didn’t notice the different skin colour of the people in front of him, in fact the only comment he made was that he liked the colour I’d painted my toe-nails.
In our neighbourhood people know that the “black Englishman” lives in the house with the red shutters (see below about our shutters). But when we walk around in other villages or in town, some local people do stare at Mr C, as he is “a stranger”..
-red shutters. Oh yes I’ve mentioned these before. A house with red shutters? NOT DALMATIAN!! we are told…. Dalmatian houses have green or brown shutters, what are we thinking having RED shutters? what is the world coming to??!! Strangers….
-sitting in the sun. Foreigners do this a lot. Well if you come from a Northern country like the UK or Germany or even cold Russia (it’s -37 °C in Mariinsk today!), when you get to a Mediterranean beach, you want to make the most of the sunshine so you sit in the sun. We’ve been told by some locals that we should plant more trees and have more shaded areas in our garden, as our terrace is too big and exposed to the sun. “Strangers”…..
-butter on bread – ah yes, try asking for butter in a restaurant. They give you a “stranger” look. Why you want butter?… we use a knife to mimic spreading “virtual butter” on our bread, one day the waitress went back to the kitchen and brought back to the table a whole 250gr packet of butter, on a plate.
Well we did ask for butter, didn’t we? …
Have you been called “stranger” meaning “foreigner“? which country was that?
and do you have certain habits that other people find “strange” or “foreign” for the country you live in or your are travelling in at the moment?
thank you today to Jersey Josheii for recommending Our Adventure in Croatia for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.
From a stranger in Croatia to a stranger in Japan… thanks