Updated: Feb 9
I'll come straight to the point. The 3 phases that every Immigrant goes through after moving to a new country are:
Heavy words, aren’t they? Any person moving to a new country (in my case – USA), usually goes through these 3 phases before settling down.
So, what do these 3 phases mean & represent.
This is the first phase of your transition to a new country. Acclimatizing is adjusting or familiarizing yourself with the culture, the language, the climate among other things. This is the discovery phase during which every day you experience something new about your new home.
This is by far the toughest and the longest phase of your transition. By now, you’ve familiarized yourself to everything that you need to know. The discovery phase is over and you’re now at crossroads. You’re still relatively new to this country and you have strong roots back home.
You had a certain way of life back home. Your own culture, your identity, your traditions. These clash with the ones you’ve now familiarized yourself with in this new country and sometimes you don’t like what you now see. There is this strong urge to reject the new and remain in the comfort of the past.
There is a constant tussle between your mind and your heart.
Your mind wants you to be relatively open to these new experiences and accept it, but your heart is reminding you of the warmth you felt back home. This goes on for a while until you eventually decide to accept the new place as your home.
You’ve now warmed to this new place. You see a point in their way of life, you understand where they are coming from (you may not agree with them) and you slowly but steadily become one with them. You maybe even celebrate their festivals, make new friends and even form your own little social circle.
You’re still quite rooted to your culture back home. But being away from home, no longer bothers you. You’ve integrated yourself in the new culture while still retaining your own essence.
Like millions of others, I too came to the US for a brighter, better future. However, the circumstances leading to my arrival to this country were not completely under my control. Let’s just say that I arrived here on a dependent visa unlike many before me who came here through work or as an International student.
Initially, that made me a little less accommodating which in turn led me to doubting my decision to move here and rejecting the American way of living.
Needless to say, it took me a slightly longer time to “settle down” in this country.
Acclimatizing for me wasn’t much of a problem. I’m relatively well read, have binged watched a lot of American shows and my education has been in English. Basically, my upbringing in Mumbai and my exposure to Western culture took care of it.
But Acceptance of where I am and that fact that this might be it, took a while. I went into denial and started rejecting the way things were done here. Growing up in Mumbai, I never felt the need to learn driving. Our public transport system, though crumbling, was good enough. The complete lack of it here angered me. The whole idea of driving even to get your groceries seemed like a huge task I wasn’t willing to undertake. Combine it with the frustration of the healthcare system in this country and the politics around Gun laws and Immigration angered me. I missed my food from back home even though I had plenty of options here. It was just never up to the mark. I was raised as a spoilt brat. I’d never done my dishes or ironed my clothes. In fact, for a large part of my life, I’d never cooked anything other than Maggi.
There was always someone who would take care of it. There was always a carpenter or plumber or an electrician available at a moment’s notice. So, imagine my horror when I had to spend an entire day assembling furniture from Ikea.
I was overthinking all the “so called” negative aspects and overlooking all the good that could come of it and more. The transition was not sudden. I started noticing small things.
The air was much cleaner. I finally understood what Work-Life balance meant. I added cooking to my list of new skills along with assembling furniture. I stared enjoying those small tasks now that I actually had time. The country is quite safe for women. But the most important thing that led to my eventual acceptance was the fact that I saw so many people of different colors and race speaking in different languages. And how welcoming this country is to them for the most part. People are ready to learn more about my culture than I am of theirs.
I compared it to how my country or country people would act in a similar situation and then it all fell into place.
I was officially headed towards Assimilation.
Assimilation for most Immigrants is an ongoing process and so is the case with me. I don’t always agree with how things are done here but I understand the logic behind it. I may not cook a Thanksgiving Turkey at my place, but we do celebrate Christmas in our own way. At the same time, Diwali is a big celebration and so is Holi and Navratri (I’m a Gujju). I’ve come to like the simple idiosyncrasies of this country and yet have the same love for my home country that I had when I’d landed here.
I now have 2 homes. One from where I’m writing this and one back in Mumbai, India. And
I’m equally happy at both these places.