Elevate Difference


What does one do when far away from home? What if you never had a real home to begin with? Feelings of homesickness, uprooting one's life, and moving to a new location is considered one of the most stressful events a person can endure. Settling in another country where people speak a different language and abide by the parameters of a culture one is not accustomed to is just icing on an already challenging cake. In Haldana, Brittany Shoot shares with the reader the storm of feelings inside her during just this time of tumult.

After moving to Denmark, Shoot experienced isolation and disappointment. She witnessed racism, sexism, and downright absurdity; there are photos in the zine to prove this. The author also faced financial challenges, as well as issues with family and acquaintances. Competition for jobs is overwhelming; even a basic cleaning job received over 500 applicants. The stress of communicating with one's in-laws seems even hairier with an added language barrier, and the process of making friends with the locals seems doomed when they cannot imagine their beloved country making life stressful for an immigrant.

Reading Haldana was a learning experience for me. I had heard stories of fortunate Americans traveling through Europe, backpacking and carefree, going from one job to the next and acquiring experiences and stories to share later. However, Shoot's zine shows that this can be more of a myth than reality. Employment is not always so readily available to travelers, and attitudes can grow cold for those who do not speak a country's native language (outside of the designated tourist areas). Even though she has a master's degree and legally lives within the country, Shoot cannot find a steady job in Denmark.

I related to Shoot in many ways. We both moved from our home states to our partner's home areas (though I only moved a few states over), and weathered a rough transition. Her experience was much harder than mine. Along with the usual emotional roller coaster rides that come with replanting oneself, Shoot had to navigate language and cultural barriers. She talks about personal space, and how people often love to crowd into it, both smothering and draining the person at hand. It seems she and I both have difficulty creating and upholding boundaries from needy people.

My favorite part of Haldana was Brittany's writing style. It's rare to find an author with such a distinct voice. Usually, I find myself gritting my teeth after reading too much from a writer with a persistent style; however, Brittany's voice was skilled and I felt like dipping my feet into the pool of words, exploring and grabbing syllables, contemplating ideas and usage; this is similar to how Margaret Atwood's work makes me feel.

Written by: Jacquie Piasta, February 8th 2011