How can immigrants blend in the American society?
Moving to a foreign country can be a daunting task. Many migrants worry about whether they will be able to settle into their new lives, especially if they come from very different cultures. Furthermore, it can be especially difficult for migrants to become comfortable with the new society if the people in that community are hostile or unaccepting of strangers. In the cases of some who are outwardly clearly of a different race or culture than the locals, they may even be ridiculed or discriminated against, simply for being different. Anyone would agree that it is important for immigrants to blend into their new societies for a truly fulfilling life, but how can this be achieved?
Firstly, it is important for immigrants to set realistic expectations. Moving to a new country and expecting to blend in perfectly to the society is probably quite impossible, at least in the immigrant’s lifetime. No matter how much one tries, all of us come from different upbringings and backgrounds and that is always going to play a part in each of our personalities and mannerisms. It is unrealistic for an immigrant to come into a long-standing society and believe that whatever they do to fit in can undermine the many years of experience and history they have been missing out on. Most of us have probably seen this in action when attempting to join cliques as children. Even if the group is amiable to the newcomer, there is a wealth of past experiences, inside jokes and terms that simply cannot be learned overnight. Furthermore, most people are subconsciously averse to those of a different heritage than themselves, even if they personally campaign for the equality of all people. For as long as human nature exists, it is improbable that any of these internal beliefs would ever be set aside for the sake of assimilating a foreign person into society. As such, immigrants should not expect to seamlessly be accepted into American society no matter how much they try to be. However, that is not to say immigrants cannot be treated equally and treat everyone else equally. As long as a harmonious and equal balance can be achieved, immigrants should consider their job well done.
For immigrants to socialize effectively in the American society – or any society, for that matter, it is important for them to read up on that country’s culture, as that is what most locals would be conversing about. Various topics of interest can include American movies, television shows, sports, celebrities, food or even politics. Without a common topic to discuss, it is more likely for a conversation to peter out awkwardly, leaving the immigrant feeling that they are unable to mix in with the locals. First impressions matter the most, and starting off an interaction on the wrong foot can send the wrong message to a lot of people, making it many times more tough to get them to give the immigrant another chance. Apart from reading up on and experiencing local entertainment, culture can also be acquired and learned through traveling to different parts of the country, learning about places of interest, American cuisine, people’s characteristics and behavior. In today’s digital age, one good way for people to get to know foreign culture is to participate in online communities such as forums and chat groups, making new friends there and learning more about the culture of the country they are migrating to. Chatting with American friends over the Internet greatly provides immigrants with insights into American lingo, topics of interest and the best way to communicate with Americans. Generally, the idea is for immigrants to gain as much subject matter on relevant local topics as possible, in order to maximize the length of one’s conversation and likeability with the locals.
Immigrants should also remember that they should not attempt to blend in too much that they lose sight of their own identity. Part of what makes American society what it is today is the eclectic mix of people from all walks of life that have contributed in their own ways. After all, aside from a few native Americans, everyone was also once an immigrant. In some way, we can say that nobody is truly purely “American” – instead, we have a mix of African Americans, Italian Americans, Chinese Americans, Irish Americans, Indian Americans and more. The beauty of such a diverse society is that one can learn many different things from the people around them, instead of meeting the same type of people every day. Immigrants themselves can contribute to this society and, in time, bring their own ideas to the table. While it is important to keep up to date on the recent American topics for the purposes of socializing, one should not try to do every single thing a “typical” American would do. For one, Americans also have some unhealthy habits just like any other society, such as being one of the heaviest people on Earth and watching too much television, which would definitely not be conducive if every single immigrant tried to follow suit in order to blend in. If an immigrant does not want to engage in some typical American activities, they should not feel like they have to force themselves to do things just for the sake of acting and appearing more American. As such, attempting to blend in to the extent of losing one’s own identity would be an attempt gone too far.
Lastly, immigrants should be confident and act as naturally as possible. If they act like they do not fit in, then the chances are they will never fit in. Nor should they attempt to act like somebody else to gain favor with the people around them – it can get very tiring not being yourself, and there is no surer way to lose a friend than for them to find out you have been putting up a façade all this time. No matter whether someone is an immigrant or a local, the best way to assimilate oneself into a society is for them to be themselves, allowing others to like them for who they are and bringing their own unique insights to the society. If a person acts as if they do not belong, then it is likely others will treat them the same way. One course of action would be to treat others the way one would like to be treated. After all, we are of the same human race, and no society would be that different from others as to never be able to assimilate effectively.
Author: Kelly Felder