Living in your own home country is similar to living in a glass house. You do not have to ever leave your comfort zone, you are used to the people and the customs around you so there is no effort spent in reconsidering your world views or having to adapt to different situations you have never been in before.
If you leave the nest, however, you face the “real world” eventually. Suddenly, you are confronted with a whole world full of new concepts, standards and ideals. There is an unlimited amount of these out there, but one concept stood out to me while I stayed in the United States though. What I am specifically talking about is white privilege. Since I am from a country where the vast majority of people are Caucasian, I am used to being surrounded by people with the typical “white” features such as blond hair, light skin and blue eyes and of course I am also used to being treated the same as everyone else around me. Ever since coming to the USA this summer, the country which is often considered the melting pot of nations, where everyone is said to be able to rise from dishwasher to millionaire, I started being aware of racism in everyday life a lot more than I had done before.
The first symptom of white privilege I became conscious of was being treated more nicely by strangers than people from other ethnic groups. I experienced a lot of courtesy (doors were held open for me), I felt that shop assistants trusted me, and I received preferred treatment from customs officials at the US/Canada border, where my passport was stamped without anyone appearing to verify that it was mine.
People from Asia and Latin America I talked to also told me about having gotten a fake European ID in order to enter nightclubs. Apparently, bouncers admit anyone with a European ID, no questions asked.
Another thing I had not been aware of before was that the “Barbie look” as I would call it, the stereotypical Caucasian features, are apparently considered good-looking by the majority of societies. Friends of mine reported being asked by others if they could to touch their hair and they also noticed being stared at openly in public a lot of times, a situation they were not used to in their home countries.
I obviously learned and experienced a vast amount of other things while I stayed in New York; this is just one impression of many I will take home with me. Even though I was the one who profited from this kind of positive racism, I obviously still do not approve of it and it showed me that, despite all the claims of an equal world with equal opportunities for everyone, we are still far away from this utopia.