How not to lose your cultural identity while living in a new country

cultural identity

The United States is often called a melting pot because it is made up of people from many different cultures and origins, which forms a unique American culture.

Think of your favorite recipe. The different ingredients in the recipe bring in flavors and spices that make the meal exceptional. Too much of one ingredient can overpower the taste and texture, while not enough of another ingredient means it will get lost in all of the other flavors. A mixture of ingredients needs to be achieved for the best outcome.

The same can also be said of the people who make up America. If we weren’t from different cultures, the country would end up being terribly bland. This is why we encourage you not to lose your cultural identity when you come to build your new life in the United States. This article can help you stay true to yourself while also immersing yourself in a new culture.

Tips for embracing your cultural identity while living in another country

Only you can decide how much or how little you hold on to your cultural heritage, but it would be hard to live successfully in the United States without embracing American culture. To feel comfortable in your new home, you’ll need to make new meaningful connections with Americans, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain your language, traditions, and practices. The trick is to create a balance that embraces both cultures at a level that makes you feel fulfilled.

Here are some tips for how to achieve that balance.

Maintain your native language.

So much of who you are is in the way you express yourself through words. Don’t lose your identity by not talking in your native language—your language is what connects you to your family and others from your native country.

At times, maintaining your native language might feel like a double-edged sword, because some people in the United States might expect you to turn off your accent and speak English fluently. However, remember that being able to speak multiple languages will probably benefit you when you’re looking for a job. For American companies to build their businesses on a global scale, they need to hire people like you, who can communicate effectively with people from different cultures who speak different languages.  

Follow your usual practices and patterns.

Just because your address has changed doesn’t mean your daily routines and patterns have to change with it. If in your native country you prayed at sunset, you can still do that in the United States. If you celebrate Las Posadas in your home country, you don’t need to stop now.

Your belief system doesn’t have to change even if a lot of other things in your life have changed. How much you choose to change in your new life depends on what makes you happy. That’s part of the beauty of living in the US—you can decide how to dress, the language you speak, and the religion you practice. It’s up to you how you want to live your life.

Keep in touch with your home.

Make an effort to keep in touch with family and friends back in your home country. Over time, as the culture shock fades away, you will start feeling more involved in your new life in the United States. But don’t forget to make time for the people back home. Maintaining these connections plays a big part in helping you stay connected to your heritage.

Filling your new home with pictures, decorations, recipes, spices, and family heirlooms may also help you keep in touch with your culture. These tangible items can help keep you grounded and serve as visual reminders of your cultural identity.

Maintain your interests.

You may be struggling to discover who you are in your new country, but you can still find comfort in the things that brought you joy before your big move. For example, listening to your favorite song from your home country can instantly transport you back to the time and place where you heard it first and the happiness you felt in that moment.

With the internet, you can still access your favorite songs, books, and TV shows from your home country. This can keep you feeling connected to the things that are unique to your country, like the language and pop culture.

Join a group.

There are many groups you can join in Oklahoma City that focus on your culture or the activities you enjoy doing. If you can’t find one, create your own! What about creating a book club that focuses on authors from your home country? Or a dance class that teaches your traditional dances? Or a cooking class that helps others discover the flavors of your home country?

Feeling ambitious? Expand the culture of Oklahoma City by running festivals, art shows, craft shows, storytelling gatherings, and other cultural events that showcase the talents and skills of your home country.

Embrace your cultural traditions.

Make American holidays your own by incorporating some of your cultural traditions. If you celebrate Passover, Eid, or Dia Los Muertos, do it with pride and invite your new American friends to celebrate with you. Welcome them into your cultural heritage by hosting cross-cultural celebrations for weddings and birthdays.

Another way to embrace your culture is with the clothing of your home country. Don’t feel the need to pack up your sari or other traditional forms of clothing when you get to the United States. Wear your clothes proudly and be open to answering questions about them.

Learn about your native country’s history.

While living in a new country, you may become more interested in why your home country has beliefs and traditions that differ so much from where you are now. Use this curiosity to learn more about your native land and its history. With a firm understanding of your country’s roots, you can feel more connected to the culture and its people.

Finding your own balance

It’s up to you how you want to live your life in the United States and how you choose to maintain your heritage while not losing your cultural identity. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Who you are may change over time as you are exposed to different experiences in life. Accepting these experiences with self-awareness can ease your transition and help you balance your two cultural identities. Give yourself room to be flexible—you can cook your family’s traditional meal, but still enjoy a baseball game with your American friends. There is no shame in fully appreciating where you come from as well as the life you have created in the United States, and by being an ambassador for your culture, you can help preserve it and bring a better understanding to those around you.

For more tips on how to embrace your culture and how to share it with others, check out our other articles:

And, as always, please contact us for assistance with any of your immigration needs.

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