I think that a very interesting topic was brought up in class on Friday, and that is what an immigrant goes through when they arrive at a new country. Being an immigrant myself, I know the shocks that they go through whenever they relocate to a place that is very different from their home country. I went through the cultural shock that we were talking about, and it is very difficult to go through. At the beginning I had problems getting used to the language and the way things were done in school, in my country we didn’t move from classroom to classroom like the schools here, but we stayed in one classroom and waited for the teachers to come to us. We didn’t have recess, instead they gave us about thirty minutes of lunch so that we could eat and play. I remember the first day that my brother and me were left to ourselves to find our classrooms, eventhough our school was small, we still managed to get lost. We didn’t understand much of what went on in class, and we definitely didn’t understand how the whole class system worked.
After the first year of being in the U.S., we were able to speak English and understand what went on in class, but the more we understood, the more we got used to the culture in which we were living. By ninth grade (our fourth year in this country), my brother and me felt like the culture from this country had been with us forever. We went to back to visit our family after being in this country for 5 years, and it was then that we noticed how different we were from the people that had stayed. Our accents have always been obvious when we spoke English, but when we spoke in Spanish, our mother tongue; we had a very distinct accent and way of speaking. Gone was all of our slang, so when we spoke we sounded very formal, and more than once we struggled to find the right word to say simply because we couldn’t remember what it was. The more we stayed in Mexico, the more we realized that we didn’t quite belong to the society there, even the games that we played were different. And yet, when we came back to the U.S. we knew that we didn’t quite fit in with society here either.
I think that one of the most important problems that immigrants go through is culture shock, but that wears off quickly after they begin assimilating into the new culture. The biggest problem that we face is the shock of not really belonging to either culture, you either integrate too much into the culture in which you are now living and forget about the other one, or you hold your mother culture too much and so you don’t allow the new culture to become a part of you. Every immigrant struggles with this, and will continue to struggle with embracing two cultures at once. There needs to be a way in which we can find a happy medium between two cultures, but when both are very rich and welcoming, it is difficult to put them both together. And so, it is something that every immigrant will struggle with for the rest of their lives.