You’ve already invested so much just to get here. So now what?
Being an immigrant in the US is a difficult journey and yet, here you are. Now that you’re here, you need to make the most of your decision and start living the life you envisioned. But how do you start?
Well, you’re off to a good start by coming to our website. Stump and Associates is your ally in this journey.
We know that you being here will provide for a better America and we’ve created these six tips to help you integrate successfully.
1. Meet the locals
When you are living in a new country, it may be tempting to find people from your original country and stay within that community. While this community is useful for easing any culture shock you experience, it can make it challenging for you to integrate fully into American society.
So how do you get to know the locals?
If you’re here as a student, join clubs or activities at your school that interest you or even go to events you know nothing about. Being on a team or part of a group can give you a sense of belonging and help ease some sadness from being away from home. This article from US News offers other tips for international students attending school in the US.
If you’re a professional, there are plenty of groups you can join as an adult, whether it’s a running club, a cooking class or a board game club. Meetup.com is a great tool for searching groups and events in your area.
Joining these groups and going to events can help you meet Americans and will likely lead to great friendships and job opportunities.
2. Understand the language
If you want to integrate successfully into any country, you have to know how to speak and understand the common language. Misinterpreting words or meanings can sometimes contribute to awkward and uncomfortable situations.
It’s one thing when you can speak the language but understanding how words are being used is a whole other skill. Context clues can be very helpful when you are trying to get the general idea of a word you are unfamiliar with.
Slang words and phrases can also lead to very confusing conversations if you haven’t heard them before. Even more confusing is that every state or city may have their own unique sayings. For example, you might hear someone say something “Drives me up a wall.” That means that something is irritating or annoying. And in Oklahoma, you’ll often hear “fixing to” which just means “getting ready”.
Don’t be afraid to ask a person to explain unfamiliar words when they come up in conversation. You may have to research a word or phrase that sounds strange to you, and that’s perfectly ok.
Which brings us to our favorite research tool…
3. Get acquainted with American culture
Or read as: watch as much TV as you like. Now, this might sound like an odd tip coming from a prestigious law firm (if you don’t mind us saying), but you can actually learn a lot about American culture just by watching a popular show. A mix of sitcoms, reality shows, and the nightly news will introduce you to a wide range of information and give you a real sense of American culture. Here are some of the benefits you get from just watching TV:
- Television and movies expose you to common expressions and slang words that are used in everyday American conversations.
- TV can give you a good understanding of American humor. Humor can be useful for integrating since laughter bonds people together and forms friendships.
- You’ll get to know pop culture references and American social cues. For example, you might see several examples of a typical American greeting or learn how Americans celebrate certain holidays and traditions.
- TV makes a great conversation topic. If you are around Americans in a casual setting, ask them if they also watch an American TV show that you enjoy. Your discussion of the show could carry the conversation off to other topics.
4. Get hired
One of the best ways to contribute to American society is to be employed and start earning a paycheck. If you are searching for a job as an immigrant, you are in good company. In a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, one-third of employers plan to hire immigrant workers in 2017, with 16 percent planning to do so in the second quarter.
There are local organizations within Oklahoma City that can help you navigate the job-searching process. The Common OKC is a great resource that offers support and assistance in locating job opportunities that fit your skill set.
And when you get contacted for an interview, be sure to read our blog post, Ace the Job Interview (Even if You’re Not Fluent in English). This post gives great tips on how to overcome the language barrier, how to prepare for questions, how to dress, and what questions you should ask during an interview.
5. Share your culture and your experiences
The US has been known as a “melting pot”; meaning that we are one country comprised of people from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and religions. Being culturally diverse gives us the upper hand on innovation. To contribute back to American society (other than consuming goods and paying taxes) is to share your culture and your experiences.
Your ideas and traditions have the possibility of opening your neighbor’s eyes to new perspectives and a better awareness of the world around them. It’s so important to share culture because as much as we think we know about each other, we still have so much to learn.
Some examples of sharing your culture and experiences could be to:
- Host a dinner for your neighbors and share traditional dishes from your country.
- Teach a cooking class.
- Share a traditional craft or game from your country at a local art fair or recreation center.
- Give a presentation about your traditions at a local school or church’s international awareness day.
- Participate in local storytelling events by sharing folk tales that are native to your country.
6. Be persistent
Persistence is a good virtue worth having, especially for someone living in a country foreign to them. You’ve come to the US and Oklahoma City for a new life, a better life, and you should be proud of what you’ve achieved so far. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already shown great persistence. All of us at Stump and Associates are glad you’re here.
We don’t have to tell you how hard it is to live in a new country; you’re living it every day. Don’t give up!
Be sure to follow along as we continue to share resources on living and working in the US. We’re here to help you make this transition as easily as possible. Subscribe to our newsletter , or get in touch to let us know how you need help.