Culture Shock

A guest blog article by Zoe Harvey-Ellis (student, activist, world citizen)

In December 2005, I left the security of my life and home in England, for a transatlantic move to the United States. Here begins my cultural, emotional, and personal journey from one land to another. The reason for a move stateside was an amazing job opportunity offered to my husband. Before this offer came along we were perfectly happy. We had just purchased our first house, adopted two cats, and life seemed cozy, if not predictable. The chance to move abroad forced us to re-evaluate our lives.

Were we truly happy? Should we branch out and move five thousand miles from home? Meet new people, be exposed to a new culture and new experiences? It was utterly tempting, but frightening all at the same time.

 We decided to take the leap and moved to the US. We rented out our house, got pet passports for our cats, and left our home for a strange land. We arrived in the depths of a Minnesota winter. It was bitterly cold with snow everywhere. The first weeks were tough. Finding our way around, finding a place to rent, buying two cars, and opening a bank account. Everything felt utterly foreign and disorienting. I wondered whether we had made the right choice. I was not able to work, as my visa did not allow it. My family and friends were thousands of miles away.

They were tough times, but gradually we acclimatized: I learnt to say cell phone instead of mobile phone; I volunteered at a shelter and made friends; I passed my driving test and got a license; I adapted.

 We have now been in the US for almost six and a half years and I became a citizen in 2010. Some days I wake up and feel like a foreigner, but other days I feel I belong. I am caught between two cultures it seems – but is this a bad place to be? I don’t think so. I have had so many unique experiences, and I know I am lucky to have had these opportunities. It has made me appreciate family, friends, my homeland and my new home. I realize the things I casually took for granted back home: cups of tea with friends, walking everywhere or getting the tube, fish and chips, prawn cocktail crisps, a pop down the pub for a ploughman’s lunch, Marmite on toast, and the British dry sense of humour (yes that’s humor with a ‘u’).

But, I also cherish the experiences I have had here: meeting people from all over the USA, visiting 20 US States, going to see Cubs and Bears games, going on a ridiculously long road trip, enjoying wide open spaces, big roads, cars, and houses…. I could go on.

I guess home is where the heart is, and mine is somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

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78 thoughts on “Culture Shock

  1. First of all, thank you for entering America the right way! It’s greatly appreciated by me and many other tax paying Americans. I also feel for you, being dropped in Minnesota of all places. It’s cold here in Chicago-land, but even I get cold up there in Minnesota. Do you think you would do it all again or not?

    1. I loved reading this entry! I connect so well with it because my stepfather went through the same thing when he moved to the US from Tunis, Africa 4 years ago. He had never even been out of his own country! He went through a sad time when he first arrived because he was so out of his element and he missed his old life more than ever! Even though the values that he was brought up with are completely different than the ones he has seen here in the US he has also begun to get acclimated to his new life! I’m sure this is the right move for you and your husband and if it’s not… well, just trust life. everything happens for a reason 🙂

      1. Grecia, thanks for your step father’s story. It makes me realize that I am not alone. Also, I do know that I have it easier than a lot of immigrants because I do not have the language barrier. It must be so much harder when you have to grapple with being in a foreign country and have to learn a new language. Someone once told me (another British expat here in Illinois) that it takes about ten years to feel at home. I think I would agree with that, as I have been here almost seven years and I am getting there! I hope your step father feels more at home here now.

    2. Hi John,

      Yes, Minnesota of all places! AND we arrived in the depths of winter. I think if we could rewind I would insist on arriving in the spring or summer. But that is the benefit of hindsight I guess! Yes, I think I would do it again. I have learnt so much and grown as an individual. And, if the need should ever arise, I know we can go back to England. Both sets of parents are getting on now, so we may have to start spending more time between two countries anyway.

      1. Spending time in both countries could be a blessing really. I had an idea, I don’t know how everyone’s parents are doing but maybe you could all meet in a different country for a vacation. Example… you fly to Italy and have the parents meet you there! BRILLIANT!!!

      2. I like that plan a lot, John!! We have talked about a trip to Portugal, rent a villa for everyone, make our way there separately and enjoy a vacation in the Algarve. When we go home to England, it isn’t really a true “vacation” as it is just going home. It would be nice to relax a bit and enjoy family in a relaxing setting.

      3. Zoe, I think it’s great that you have adapted so well. I hope now the winters are not so horrible that they would still be making you think of Minnesota. But it is wonderful that you have taken such a difficult obstacle and retracted only the positive from it. Hopefully you can start those multiple country vacations to see your family, it is important to keep that tie strong.

    3. I agree with John, having two countries to spend time in is a blessing. John, have you ever had a culture shock experience? Where have you traveled that you would recommend someone to live?

    4. Hey Zoe, I can only imagine the change in the countries. I was born in the Bahamas which is British too. Although i don’t have the accent like you, but I moved up here when I was seven years old and when I go home I found it actually more weird. here I am feeling like an outsider in my own country.

  2. The mere fact to read Zoe’s post about Cultural Shock, brings me a lot of memories and also nostalgia. As an immigrant like millions of them in this country, I have many experiences that I intensely lived. I left my family and friends at my hometown, to start a new life with my wife in a totally different culture. I spent seven years in a relationship with my actual wife, while each of us lived in a different country. She used to visit me for a couple of weeks every summer, and I used to come to America at least twice a year to visit her. Even though, the fact of knowing this culture was gradual, I still remember the emotion of staying in a different place for the first time, even after several times of coming as a tourist. When I married my wife and came to America as a resident, almost three years ago. I still feel that emotion of staying outside my comfort zone. I learned to deal with that sensation, but still today I am very sensitive to places, food, and some odors. Today, all of those memories are funny, but at that time they were not. Sometimes I had a kind of frustration, since I did not speak English, and the simple fact of facing a new culture. It is pleasant when those memories now make me smile, and when my wife is there she always asks me: What are you remembering?

    1. That’s a great story! You are right that there are so many immigrants here trying to make a new life for themselves. We all have our homeland, but we make the US our new home. I know how hard it is to live in a country where you have to learn the language. I lived in France for about a year, and even though I spoke French, it was still really difficult – to do things like rent an apartment, but car insurance, or report something to the police. Everything is so much harder when you are communicating in a foreign language. Good luck to you and your wife!

  3. Enjoyed this entry as well. Moving is always an experience especially when the destination is unfamiliar. There are so many things that can surprise you and learn from. Even though you came to America for an opportunity don’t forget that us having you here gives US the opportunity to know more about you and your country – I don’t get to travel much to other countries. Since you have been here for six years I hope we have given you positive experiences so far! 🙂

    1. I have definitely had some surprises, that’s for sure! That is the great thing about cultures, we all benefit when we meet new people from strange lands. It kind of opens us up and we realize there are different ways of saying and doing things. And, yes, I have had some great experiences and Americans (generally speaking) are so very friendly and welcoming 🙂

    2. I’m happy to hear the you have had a positive experience here. I can only imagine what it would be like to move to another country. I would love to experience another culture but for now my family and I are planted here, as soon as they get older I plan on taking them out to visit another country to know that there are other cultures out there. I moved out on my own when I was 19 and found that I ran into many obstacles. I moved knowing no one and miles away from my family. I have moved many times since then and found that the more I moved around the easier it was to adapt to an environment. It is always interesting trying to figure out the different ways of doing or saying things when you’re in a new environment/country. Living in the midwest then moving to the east coast I couldn’t figure out what people were referring to when they would they would talk about a pocket book (purse). Is there any where else that you would consider moving to?

      1. You did leave home early! You don’t need to leave your home country to experience different cultures. The States is HUGE and there are many sub cultures within the American culture itself. I would consider moving to another country, sure. My husband had a Canadian move on the cards a while back, and we considered it. I would have been happy to move to Toronto (a great city – have you ever been?). It fell through, but basically, once you have moved around a lot then it gets easier to pick up and leave, as you said yourself. Will this be the case as I get older? Perhaps not. I do want some roots somewhere!!

    1. We didn’t have to get them to enter the US, but to return to the UK we had to have one to avoid 6 months in quarantine (UK doesn’t have rabies so we are very careful about letting animals back into the country). The passparts were so CUTE!

      1. I think its pretty relevant and smart the way that is set up. It relates somewhat to how the TSA are in American airports. Nowadays your hygiene bag (everyone should have one when traveling) is being searched for bomb materials. So I think a pet passport sounds about fair.

      2. This is too funny they would put your cats into a 6 month quarantine? That goes to show you how some nations are proactive about the health of the country and some like ours would rather be a reactive society.

  4. I moved here from Michigan and I thought THAT was rough. I am only a three hour drive away from my friends and family and it is overwhelming at times. I cannot imagine moving overseas. You are a very strong individual to be able to do that for your husband and his career. Your story inspires me to be stronger because now I know it could be much more difficult!

    1. Any move, whether it is two hours from home or ten, is still hard to do. You still have to adjust and find your feet in a new place, make new friends, find a job etc. I guess it is easier if you can just jump in the car and drive to see family or friends for a birthday or Thanksgiving or whatever. For us to get home it takes months of planning (or at least booking months in advance), a lot of money for flights, and we only get to go home every couple of years. It is hard to miss out on my niece’s birthday, or my friend’s wedding. But you make up for it in other ways. Are you here to stay, Kate, or will you return to Michigan some day?

  5. Zoe,
    I have you in class and I knew you were from England but I never knew your story! I loved reading this! I think that’s hilarious that you had to get your cats passports. I’ve never personally moved, I’ve lived in the same house my entire life, but one of my best friends moved from New Hampshire to Illinois about 5 years ago. While that doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, it was a huge change for her. They have different words for things in the northeast, such as “sprinkles” are “jimmies” and if you ask for a milk shake at an ice cream shop, they’ll give you a cup of shaken up milk, those are just a few examples. She lived in a very isolated town where you had to drive 30 minutes to get to any civilization. Her town did not allow fast food, so when she came to Illinois she had never had any sort of fast food. She lived there her entire life and she had to leave everyone she had ever known. I think her story somewhat related to yours because of the drastic changes that both of you had to go through. I’m really glad that you’ve had pleasant opportunities in the United States! 🙂
    Do you think you’ll ever move back to England?

    1. Hi Kelley!

      Your friend’s story is very similar to mine. It’s not just about distance, you can feel “foreign” if you move just down the road, if there is a substantial change in the culture. Are sprinkles those things you get on top of ice creams and cakes? If so, we call them “hundreds and thousands” (that is a bit random isn’t it?!).

      To answer your question: yes, I think we may move back one day. Who knows where life will take us. We have just sold our cottage in the UK (in February) so that really felt like cutting another tie to home. But it’s not reversible by any means. America is a great place with so much opportunity, I think we are happy to stay here for the long term.

      1. If you ask her, that’s exactly what she’ll say. She’ll say that she felt foreign even though she just moved from another part of the country. Yes, sprinkles are the things you get on ice cream and cakes! Hundreds and thousands is a very interesting name for those, but I’m sure you think sprinkles is an interesting name too! I’m sorry to hear that you feel like you just cut another tie from home! 😦 But, it makes me happy to hear that you think America is a great place! Has any of your family come to visit you here yet!? If so, how did they like it? If not, do they plan on coming to visit?

  6. Zoe, I think is great that you were able to bring your cats with you to the U.S. I’m sure that with such a drastic change, you found a lot of comfort having them around. Pets can be a person’s best friend. I relate with how you feel. I am from Spain and I have lived in U.S. for 16 years, but I still can’t feel like home. English is still my second language and I often feel frustrated when what I have said is not really what I meant. I have found myself over the years with the feeling of giving up, feeling like I don’t belong to here or there, and making the decision to go back for good to Spain, but as usual something wonderful always happens. The last time the Spanish class teacher in my daughter’s elementary school asked me if I could go and talk about my country to the 5th graders, when I confirmed my visit, she replied saying that the kids were extremely excited about my visit. It was a wonderful experience. It made me realize how appreciated I am in this country, how much Americans like my culture, and the wonderful people I have meet here.

    1. That’s great that you went in to talk to the kids about Spain. It does make you realize that people are genuinely interested in your home and your culture. It’s funny, I had similar times where i wanted to throw the towel in and go home. We almost did in 2007. But then another job came up and allowed us to move to Chicago-land. That was fate I guess, telling us to stay put! I hope you are happy here, and get to go home every now and then. Spain is a wonderful country: where are you from originally? I love the Costa Blanca and Barcelona is my favorite city.

      1. Zoe I am very happy here. I am originally from Barcelona, which I hope you can understand, it makes it even harder not to be home sick. I have people come up to me, and tell me that Barcelona is such a beautiful city! what are you doing here?. Unfortunately one doesn’t pick were to live by how pretty a city is, but where one has a job that provides economic security. And sadly Spain has an 50% unemployment rate among the 20 to 30 year old population. I try to go as often as I can, which is not often, considering how expensive it is. As I had to take alternative vacation choices, I started to explore United States, and became to appreciate the beauty of it.

  7. Awesome story! Similar situation with my Nonno and Nonna. When they first arrived here from Italy they felt out of place and were almost depressed for quite some time; but after opening a grocery store in Chicago and learning to adapt to their new surroundings (and cold weather!) they learned to love America just like they loved Italy. However, I do believe that if it weren’t for their financial situations, they would have stayed in Italy, where their hearts will probably always remain.

    1. A lot of people do move here for financial reasons. That was one of the reasons for us. You really can prosper here, especially compared to the “old world” of Europe where everything is expensive and jobs (often) do not pay as well as in the US. My heart is in England, your home is alway home, just like it is for your grandparents.

  8. This was a great story! I felt even a little choked up inside for some reason while reading it, haha. But it also made me think that even when you’re not moving to a whole different country, small things even living in the same area you take for granted and never notice until life throws a change your way. I am very happy for you that you have adjusted, and kept your head up with the differences. I feel like if I were to move somewhere foreign to me and had too many difficulties I would give in and move back to my country. You seem like an extremely strong person.

  9. Great article Zoe! It was very pleasant to read it!
    I came to United States from Poland in 2005 too, so I can easily relate to what you had to go through. Everything was incredibly strange and hectic in the beginning and I couldn’t force myself to like my new home, I only had to give it sometime to adjust. I’m sure the lucky thing for you was having English as your first language. Since all I knew was “how are you” and how to count to 10, my main answer to everything I was asked was just to shrug my shoulders! What’s ironic now, is that after sometime I end up speaking English with some of my friends that came here about the same time as I did. I also noticed that different nationalities and ethnic groups like to stick together. Have you encountered any English people or communities in the US? And when you speak to your relatives or friends back home, do you ever hear that you’ve gotten Americanized or you have an accent? Because I think its ultimately unavoidable, which isn’t bad, in fact just natural. Personally I haven’t heard it much yet from my relatives abroad and I am curious how it in your case! 🙂

  10. Zoe I feel you. I felt the same way the first couple of year when I got to Chicago on a cold winter. I felt like I didn’t fit in and I knew I belong over there. Through the years you gain friends and you learn to adapt even if you miss those old friends but specially your family members. I haven’t seen my sister for almost 12 years but thank god she got her visa and this summer she’ll be visiting. Hopefully I can become a Citizen next year and when I have everything and luckily I’ll be able to say I belong here. I appreciate everything the US has given to me because it had showed me to be thanked and to appreciate what I have. I didn’t care at all till now that my parents did a great scarified bringing me here and giving me the opportunity to know another culture. Not just one culture but many others I wouldn’t have known if I would’ve stay in my native country. I thank them so much for this precious opportunity I was granted. Now I’ll have to wait to be a truly legalize American.

  11. I for one think it is kind of silly that the citizens here in America always seem to have so much to complain about. When you read Zoe’s Blog her situation was no where near as easy as the citizens of American have it. Still with in the short time she has been here she and her husband have been able to make a place in this country. That is what made this country what it is. People taking a control of their situation.

    1. Zackzz,
      Anywhere you go around the world, every citizen complains about their country, its not just Americans. People tend to appreciate their homeland once they have to leave it. Also when they live somewhere abroad they are more likely to be determined to pursue something with their lives. On the international scale, Americans are very happy people and they don’t many insecurities, unlike other nations. I think that the complaining comes from lack of appreciation to all the opportunities that are given here.

      1. Right. That’s what I was trying to say, and I completely agree with you and the fact that today there is a lack of appreciation for the opportunities that Americans are given. This can be seen in the job market of America. Everyone just wants a great job from the start.

      2. I agree on what Popowski is saying, because no matter where you go you are always looked at as a outcast in another persons eyes if you don’t really belong. For example if you go to a unfamiliar area people tend to look at you in another way from a area that you are familiar with. Also we Americans do lack the appreciation to get the job that they really want.

      3. This is true, people always look at the newcomer as an outcast. But if the outcast can hold out long enough the system around them will have to adapt to the newcomer. This has been done by many cultures around the world that is why some tend to blend together.

  12. Zoe,first of all it was great meeting you in class this past semester. Secondly I feel that i can connect with how you have felt. Having lived in Germany for two years, and Iraq for fifteen months was always tough. Leaving behind family, and friends was not something I had planned on. I now realize I had not really left my family, and friends, they had waited patiently for my return, however I have left my new found family from the Army. I think it is a feeling that will never go away leaving those you connect with most. I will say though about the experience of living elsewhere, I feel should be tried by all, you learn so many great things in life, and like you said in your original post learn what you have taken for granted. Thanks for sharing Zoe!

  13. I did find the story about your cat passports funny! I just traveled through Minnesota yesterday and it’s a beautiful place, all the windmills everywhere. So, now that I know you moved to the U.S. for your husbands work, how did you make yourselves over here in Illinois?

  14. I find that also, what Zoe experienced is something that a lot of people are experiencing now with the new requirements in a lot of jobs, like travel or move overseas. We are taught from generation to generation, the same values, believes, and traditions, and these can be very different even between next door towns, now imagine between countries?

  15. I enjoyed this entry as well. I found it pretty cute that you even got passports for your cats as well. Anywho traveling is a great thing to do, because change is good! It may be hard at first in the beginning and yes you may be afraid to live in a new environment but hey it’s for the best. Adapting to a new place means meeting new people, living in a new unique environment and starting your life fresh, now that seems like a great plan! If it wasn’t for change then our lives would be boring and all the same, but because of change it means we can all experience new things in our life.

    1. I agree with Justyna. Since I was little I did a lot of traveling. I get excited to see new places but that fear of being to far away from home always follows you. But the best thing is meeting new people, learning new cultures, and just getting a new feel for a different environment.

      1. Yeah Darius, I agree with you completely. When you experience new things you get a great feeling out of it when you know you have your life on track. Yeah its going to feel akward at first because you’re not used to it but eventually its going to hit you and your going to be like “Damn, I made the right decision” and be proud of it. I also enjoy traveling but eventually the feeling of being with your family and at home does hit you and you want to go back home to be with family but sooner or later you have to grow up and live on your own.

    2. When reading your reply it reminded of something I tend to forget about probable because I’m just so use to it. But being a person that has moved more times then years he is old I can start to think about and understand again what it is like to start over in a new place. Adapting to new people and trying to fit in are always stressful situations I couldn’t imagine doing it on a international scale.

      1. Yeah Zackzz, that is true. It isn’t always easy to adapt to new cultures and areas but eventually you get used to it. Life is full of changes and changes are usually a positive in our life. Also starting over can be a positive outcome in one’s life because then you can start on a clean slate and start fresh. I too have moved a couple times in my life and because of it I have met new people in my life which is for the better. So live life to the fullest!

  16. This was a very enjoyable and refreshing article to read. I could not help but begin thinking about my times away from home and how just being a few states over made everything look different. I too started appreciating things that I had left back home in the mid-west. Good old fashion nice and polite people being the biggest thing I missed . But that aside I really ended up feeling right at home where I had moved to.. After a while.

    1. Steve, I agree with you, The people in the mid-west tend to be some good people. Even though in the college area you can start to see “the city” come out in some people it’s good to know that not even a 30 drive south west of the college you can see a different way of living and people that will have ‘small talk’ conversations with you and not just have their headphones on.

  17. Zoe, I agree that the states has many different cultures. When I first moved to Chicago I found that I met so many people from places I never heard of. The diversity is amazing! I have never been to Toronto but I have had friends on the outskirts of it. It is one of the places I would consider moving to only because of the great things I’ve heard about it. If the opportunity ever came up I would probably jump at it. I wish you the best in everything you do!

  18. As mericis mentions, I have had the experience to meet people from many different cultures in Chicago, and I could say that it is one of the reason that I learn to like this city so much, because it is very rare you can experience something like that in any other country in the world. I feel bless to have met the friends I have now, and the wonderful people I have met throughout the years. Zoe I wish you, and your husband the best of luck. It was very nice to share my experience with you, and to learn about your journey.

  19. When reading this post I was able to relate quite well to the situation. Even though I was 7 years old when I moved to the states, nevertheless the culture shock that a foreigner feels when they move to another country was there. the way that the USA is set up helps people from all over the world gather and share their unique cultures and experiences with each other. for me i moved from South Korea to the United States back in 1997 to Queens, New York where I was able taste for the first time a legit Brooklyn Style pizza. One of the things that threw me off was the fact that total strangers walking on the street would greet each other and that to me made me think that all Americans at the time was very polite people. I thought this because back then all i knew of the way people interacted with each other was the way they would back in Korea and in Korea strangers don’t just greet each other. Generally everyone keep to themselves unless trouble or its someone you know. Thank you for posting this it had thinking back to my childhood and of simpler times.

  20. I loved reading this story because it relates to my family so much! My mom was born in palestine and she came here when she was fourteen. Like you, she was established in home and was used to her parents supporting the family. When she moved here she did not know a word of english, and she said it was horrific. My mom said that not only did her fellow classmates make fun of her but so did the teachers. She eventually learned english and started work at a very young age. Now she is married to a wonderful palestinian man and she is fortunate enough that she doesn’t have to work and just like you she is now happy in America and never wants to even go back to Palestine to visit.

  21. Zoe, congratulations on your successful transition. Welcome to American citizenship. At first I’m sure it feels like it not all cracked up like you probably thought it would be but it gets better as you settle in. You said, “They were tough times, but gradually we acclimatized.” I want to encourage you to keep up the hard work. The American dream is all about Prosperity. This is the land where anything can happen and as long as you continue to strive for success you can’t fail.

  22. I really appreciate you Zoe for doing it the right way. Its a lot of people that just try to accomplish what you have achieve but they can’t because of the mass illegal immigration. Your story is very moving, because I don’t think I have the courage to journey across the world and adapt to a whole new culture. Just being away from home for a short while makes me a little home sick, so I recognize your strength. So congratulation for your big move.

  23. I think it’s great that you came to the United States legally and became a citizen in a timely fashion once you realized you would be here long term, and I also think it speaks highly to the notion that the American Dream still exists, since your husband came here for a job opportunity. However, I don’t think that you should be held up as an example to all immigrants as an ideal to emulate. Many people who come to this country do not hail from first world nations, where emigration is something to be debated with pros and cons. Many are refugees, of wars, famines, or even bad economies, and they need to come to the US in order to make a better life for themselves and their families. These people should not be criticized because they did not enter legally, or because they haven’t gotten citizenship yet. You speak of the stress of opening an American bank account, but at least you came with money, unlike many other desperate immigrants.

  24. Thank you for entering America the right way. If you do it right, then you deserve to be here and live the American Dream. It is not an easy task to be successful in the world. If you work hard you will see the results. Successfully getting into America is one thing, but getting around just fine for six and a half years is very good for just starting. That is a very big move to take the risk and go for it all. Not many people have the guts to leave thier past behind like you did. Congratulations!

  25. It is a great thing that you adapted to the US so well! It is also great how you continue to look at the positives in this experience/journey. A lot of people that do this do not adapt nearly as well as you have. In my opinion, I think every summer you should go back to your original home for a month or so and see your family! I know you probably miss them a lot and then miss you just as much. There are a ton of people out there that wish they could do what you did, and that is successfully adapt to US. All I can say is, if you work hard here, things will turn out just the way you want them to!

  26. I guess I had expected more details on the actual culture shock or more details on adapting to American life. Even traveling within the US can allow one to experience different cultures. I go to Arizona every year, and while things in the southwest are quite similar to the Chicagoland area, culture is still slightly different. Food will be spiced differently, and even fast food chains might taste different or prepare something differently than back home. Climate causes people to dress differently. If there in summer, the first usually asked once it is found out I’m from Chicago is “is it hot enough here for you?”. I’ve traveled to different parts of America, and various regions have their own nuances and distinctions, which can be difficult for people born in America to adapt to, let alone a foreigner.

  27. Moving to another country is the best way to learn about other culture. The language, sport events, food, jokes even cars are different and exiting at the beginning. That process requires resocialization(learning new way of life and becoming part of it ). It can be a wonderful journey if your heart is in i.e. moved to US eight years ago, and dint regret it for a minute. My mom asks, why not? Where else in the world you can see ,on an ice arena girls wearing suris and ice skates, Asians, Europeans, and African Americans, Americans etc., having a good time together- only in America!

  28. I agree with Seank88. As well as him, i go away every year for thanksgiving and Christmas to Ohio and indeed, it does feel very different from the Chicagoland feel, obviously. The Amish parts out there that i see are polar oppisites to what can be found roaming the city streets of Chicago. I was expecting you to say more about how things where fitting in and more of the shock aspect of moving. The fact that you were acclimated to one culture, and had to resocialize to another is a big step, especially coming to America. Personally, i’d die from the giant ball of anxiety that Chicago is.

  29. I think you are entering America very well. There are some who have a hard time accepting the American culture. I believe the secret to adapting to our culture is just as simple as interacting with the other people here. Keep interacting with us and doing activities. Eventually, the American way will feel so natural it’s as though you WERE born here.

  30. I can appreciate that you entered the country legally and gained citizenship. It was interesting reading about how your transition. I feel like a lot problems with immigration can be prevented if they go through right processes. Though I haven’t been out of the country yet i can relate to how you appreciated home more from moving away. When i left for school I found myself trying to communicate with my family all the time. I plan on visiting many countries but i know there is no place like home. Its great that you were giving the opportunity because it turned out for the better.

  31. I do not know how you did it? But I ask my mom that question over and over again. I could not even stay away from home for a semester in college, which was only two hours away. My moved to the United States when she was only 18 years old from Ireland. When she first moved to Chicago she lived with her oldest sister and was able to get a stable job. But once she felt comfortable and was able to get her feet on the ground in the States, her bags were packed, and off to New York City she went, but this time without the help of her siblings. But New York was not her final destination either; she then moved to New Jersey and finally settled down back in Chicago. Even though she has been in the States and a citizen for over 25 years now, she still calls Ireland “home”. When we go over to Ireland to visit my other family members, she is always telling people, “Oh, yes were going home for two weeks.” I know I will feel the same way no matter where life takes me, but home will always be here on the South Side of Chicago.

    1. I like your comment you posted. Where you are from and raised will also be home I totally agree. I moved away to a couple different places and could not wait to come back, even if it was for a couple days. Leaving home is a very tough thing to do. Especially if its a different country that’s on a whole new level.

  32. I can relate to this entry in so many ways. For starters, my mother is from Coventry, England. My father was born in India, raised in Uganda, and spent his college years in Vancouver. My family suffers from culture overload. We lived in Toronto but made the big move to the US when my father had a job transfer and we have been living here for 8 years now. It was horrifying as a teenager to abandon all of my friends and move to another country. Making new friends, learning new places, adopting a new culture; all of this can be overwhelming at times. Luckily for me, Toronto and Chicago aren’t so different after all. Though, it took me a few years to realize this. I asked my mother how difficult it was to adopt this different lifestyle and she made the same claims as you. She misses her home, friends, and family that all still reside there. But she loves it here too. She still calls potato chips “crisps” and fries “chips”. Who am I to correct her though, I still call Mac and Cheese “Kraft Dinner” (It’s a Canadian thing). I guess we can only adopt portions of each culture that we’ve been subjected to.

  33. First off, thank you for sharing your story. At this point I could never imagine just picking up and leaving one life to take a chance on a new “venture” to say the least. But the fact that you did leave behind a lifestyle so drastically different, i think that leaves something to say about you and your husband. Their are thousand of people that would never make that change, I know from my own family.

    My aunt, uncle, and all of my mothers side of the family has remained in a small town in illinois since the day that they were born. I am extremely grateful that my mother ventured out of her social biography, and took a chance on something new. In turn I have been raised with the ideal that it important to travel and gain life experiences.

    But I would ask you this one question. Would you do it all again?
    I am sure that the transition in your life that you and your husband took on made you both better people. I am assuming, but I would imagine it would be almost refreshing to take on a new life somewhere. Once again thank you for sharing your story, and I hope everything is well for you and your husband in the great United States.

    1. I agree with Connor on this one, leaving the comfort of your home to emigrate to a foreign place is a huge step, and that is why people like Connor’s aunt and uncle have stayed in one spot for most of their life. They are simply too comfortable with their social biography and style of living. It would be refreshing to start over, or see/live in a new land, but when you think about it, many are nervous of what they will have to overcome in this new place, and how hard it could be to assimilate to the traditions or values. Cheers to you and your husband also!

  34. My mother came to America at the age of 25 for the first time after marrying my father. She left her family, a home, and her customs that she was attached to her whole life. My dad came to America in highschool so he at least had the opportunity to adjust to American customs as a teenager. As an adult, my mother had difficulties to learn a new language, which was the hardest part to adjusting in America. The language barrier was probably the hardest part to my mom’s adjustment, and it showed how free this country is, yet very closed minded. Today, society is more diverse and is forced in a sense to adjust, but when my mother came to America in 1988, there were visible discrimination on minorities. I believe the world needs to be as diverse, because it brings all races and ethnic backgrounds to share different values and beliefs in order to have a open mind to other nationalities.

    1. I completely agree with how hard it can be. My parents moved to america, the hardest part was getting a job and learning to speak the language at the same time. My parents have been living in America for about 35 years and yet they still have extremely thick hispanic accent.

  35. Living in the middle, I feel is a great way to live. I evny you.
    Being born out of the country, but moving here from Africa since I was 2 years old, I consider myself dominantly American. I have little to no recollection of Africa and didn’t really partake in the culture. I havent visited since moving here and living in America feels like home to me; as though i’ve experienced nothing else. The reason I envy you is because I know what it feels like to wake up some days feeling in place and feeling foreign. I experienced this when I went to Italy for about two weeks this year. It was unlike the American experience I know was normal. Speaking italian fluently helped in the assimilation phase yet my physical appearance bore a striking difference from those around me. Some days I loved it, some days I loathed it. Overall the experience was great, but I did love feeling as a foreigner although I stayed in the city of Milan most days which is similar to the city of Chicago i’ve lived in for 16 years. It gives me the feeling of freshness and makes the experience so invigorating.

  36. I think that it is amazing that you made such a dramatic and life altering move. You guys changed your whole lives around and had to adapt to a new culture. At least there wasn’t much of a language barrier. I think that the feeling of being in the middle is something that many people experience. In the article “Being Muslim, Being American after 9/11” the author talks about this middle area. She encourages people to embrace their new culture and to honor their heritage simultaneously. It can be difficult to manage but I think if you truly embrace it like you and your husband did then merging the cultures in yourself can be a great experience.

    1. I agree with your comment. I have parents that came from Mexico to this country just to have a better life. They have learned the new cultures and have surprisingly loved them. Now a days, we merge American Traditions with Mexican Traditions. It is a good experience for the whole family getting to experience american and mexican culture together.

  37. Your story is great I a glad that you had many enjoyable experiences in America. I love going to Cubs a Bears games too. My aunt had to move to Germany for 8 years and she said she love the life experiences she’s got over there also. She said the hardest part was leaving all the friends and family. She said she was super glad that she did it though. I had a little culture shock myself before but not to the same extent as you did though just a different region of the States I did also have some enjoyable experiences but I had to end up moving back home.

  38. This was a very intriguing blog. I felt like I was reading a short story of something that felt I was in. My advise is don’t be afraid to try something or go somewhere new. Many people think oh going to a new country is a pain in the asks, or that you don’t fit in. Eventually you will fit in, sooner then you think. What I like about different locations is embarrassing new culture and the ways of their living. Some people have good changes and some bad, but if you don’t like it then maybe try somewhere new. I was born in Romania and adopted by an American family so I had to grow up to the American lifestyle and still wonder today what it would be like if I stayed in Romania.

  39. I thought is article was very interesting to read! The farthest I’ve ever moved was down the block, but I think it would be a cool and scary experience to move to a completely different country and culture. Something that I found interesting and true that she said was how it made her appreciate the things she took for granted, and moving to a different country made her and her husband look at their lives differently. That is a good sort of way to look at your life and see the important things in it and maybe some things that you need to change. The cultures and how different they are is something that I think would be the hardest to overcome. Even though this is a scary experience she had, I think it is so interesting and it was a good one too.

  40. I have never moved out of the state I was born in now have I traveled outside this country. I think the blending of two cultures, although overwhelming, could potentially create great depth within a person. When positively perceived, associating with two cultures creates more life experience and helps ensure a better understanding of how and why people act the way they do. The ability to compare and contrast cultural differences while maintaining a balance of personal culture is something not everyone can say. Although the situation explained by Zoe Harvey-Ellis was somewhat forceful, I think all hard times in life can be perceived as valid life experience; that experience is what shapes us into who we re today.

  41. I moved from Vietnam to America in 1999 and as a kid i didnt really know what was going on. I went to Vietnam 10 years later in 2009 and it was beautiful! But i personally wouldn’t want to live there even if the view is outstanding. Seeing people work their asses off for at least $5 a day made me realized how great of a place America is. I love everything about my culture, its just the poverty there wouldn’t make me feel welcome at home.

  42. With life comes decisions; some affect us more than others.  One wrong decision can possibly determine not so favorable outcomes; although making the correct choice can be extremely beneficial in various ways.  Along with decision-making comes the price of taking risks.  If you don’t try new things you won’t know what you’re missing out on.  In this entry “Culture Shock” the author mentions that a couple decided to move to a foreign land.  Change is never easy and the transition can be rather difficult.  But the experience is something beyond priceless that can never be taken away.  Therefore, as individuals we grow and learn from new challenges we decide to bring on in life.  In this particular situation, from the reading, a couple was willingly removed from their comfort zone and relocated to a foreign land, which ultimately resulted in a culture shock.  In the end, they were able to adapt to change.

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