Coming to America: The Challenges Foreigners Encounter Aaron Fernando CWP 102, M W F Professor Cockrell April 3, 2013 Coming to America: The Challenges Foreigners Encounter Living in America is a dream of almost all people in the world. Many would like to come and live here because they want to experience the American way of living. They heard about the good life that America has to offer to everyone who comes and this impression overwhelmed their hearts’ desire to migrate for greener pasture.
There are many types of immigrants that come from around the world. People from Europe or predominantly white countries do not have as much of an issue as immigrants from the middle eastern countries. As citizens of the United States of America we do not fully understand their struggle because we are born into what most people dream of. In American we have far more liberty and opportunity than anywhere else in the world. In some other countries the people are suffering without the freedoms that we are used to on a daily basis.
People of the United States should welcome immigrants who are looking for a better life and are willing to work hard to achieve it. However, life can be extremely challenging for immigrants in America because they are adjusting to a different western culture and are subjected to discrimination. There are a wide variety of adjustments foreigners need to make to live in the United States. Each of these can make the immigrant feel uncomfortable and unwanted. Most immigrants say they experienced culture shocked in their first few months in United Sates.
Even my father, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, at first had a hard time adjusting to cultural differences. If an immigrant used to spend time with friends and neighbors when he was in his country, it will be a different thing for him in America. Most people in the United States are very private and too busy. They have no time to spend talking to neighbors. My father explains that when living in a small country it seemed that everyone knew each other and was connected through daily routines. Social life obviously does occur in America but it comes easy for someone who has ived here their whole life. For example if you have always shopped at the same supermarket, the atmosphere and people become familiar. If someone is new to the place, they would feel like a total stranger because neighbors won’t say anything except hi or hello. No one will come and make friends with them or spend time to make them feel comfortable in their new environment. If the immigrant is used to having a close relationship with the neighborhood in their home country, it would take time for them to adjust to their new environment where they could rarely see his neighbors.
To make new friends is hard when nobody is around. It requires the immigrant to leave their comfort zone and meet new people which we all know can be a stressful task alone. Battling with cultural differences is a struggle to most immigrants. It takes time to be adjusted to this new life setting. I was born In Buffalo New York and I am United States citizen. I have been raised with two different cultures, American and Sri Lankan. It is no secret that Buffalo has punishing winters, but I have gotten used to all the obstacles that come with it.
Adjusting to the cold weather is not an easy thing especially to people who come from tropical countries. There are only two seasons in the tropical zones, the rainy and the sunny days. Of course most Immigrants from tropical areas are so excited to watch the snowflakes and to play with snow which they never had experienced but there are some who are not comfortable with the cold weather and they don’t like winter time. When my father first came from Sri Lanka, a tropical island, he did not even own a heavy jacket.
It didn’t take him too long to figure out that a whole winter wardrobe would be needed to live here in buffalo. Immigrants who get sick easily when exposed to the cold would have hard time adjusting. Even here in the United States, there are many who do not like winter time especially in areas where it is extremely cold. Even if these people are used to cold weather, they are still uncomfortable with it. How much more uncomfortable do you think immigrants would feel who have never experience this type of weather in their country?
Adjusting to the cold weather is not the only challenge that contributes to immigrants having a hard time living in America. People worldwide are familiar with bread, pasta, lasagna, spaghetti, hot dogs etc. but to most immigrants, these types of food are rarely eaten especially not as main menu every single day. Their stomach felt empty when they cannot eat the food they are used to having. Immigrants have their own staple food like rice, country specific spices, and different meats. Rice is common with every meal with other dishes like fried fish or meat with vegetables.
Their daily menu is different from that of the Americans but since they are already here, they must learn to adjust to the usual food of the Americans. This is hard to most immigrants and can make a simple necessity a challenge. Imagine going to a foreign country where the majority of the food in restaurants and supermarkets you are unfamiliar with. A transition like that would involve serious lifestyle changes that the immigrant may not be comfortable with. As human beings we consume food every day which is not the only daily routine that can be a challenge for immigrants.
Driving is one of the most challenging parts for female immigrants who never have experience driving in their home countries. Most people in other countries are used to public rides. According to NatGeo only five percent of Americans surveyed report daily use of public transportation, and only seven percent report taking public transportation at least once a week. 61 percent of Americans report that they never use public transportation. Internationally, 25 percent of people in the 17-nation survey report using public transportation daily, and 41 percent report using it at least once a week.
Even Canadians are more than twice as likely to report weekly or more transit usage than Americans; Germans are almost five times more likely to use transit at least weekly, and Russians are over ten times more likely. Usually families in foreign counties have no cars of their own and learning to drive is not necessary. In America almost everybody has a car and driving is a must, especially to people who are in the country areas where buses, trains and other public vehicles are not available. It is not an easy thing to be in the steering wheel for the first time surrounded by fast moving cars and with speed limit to maintain.
If the immigrant wanted to purchase a car they would need the financials to back it up, this could be challenging for someone who is sometimes coming to America with nothing but the clothes on their back. It takes time to gain courage and confidence on the road. In order to get food, purchase a car, and generally survive there needs to be some sort of income being earned. There are lots of job opportunities in America but usually not in line with the trainings of most immigrants. This is the reason why they may change their careers when they come to America.
Some have 2-3 jobs because they grasp the opportunity to earn more in order to cope with the standard of American living. In big cities everything is expensive including food, apartment rentals, bills, taxes, gas, etc. It is a tough adjustment to most immigrants but in order to survive, they should not be choosy of what they could do to earn a living. This adjustment takes courage and persistence especially because of the Job situation here in America. The News is constantly discussing the controversial issue of illegal or legal immigrants taking jobs from people in America.
What some people may not know is that in fact immigrants are helping the Unites states in many ways. Immigrants bring skills that meet the needs of the U. S. economy, filling jobs at the high and low ends of the labor market. The GCIR reports that in 2000, the foreign-born accounted for 38 percent of scientists and engineers with doctorates and 29 percent of those with master’s degrees. This shows that immigrants are fully capable of helping the American economy by adding intelligent professionals to the work force.
However the mentality of those who do not understand the benefits of immigrants can set up a nasty perception of them when seeking employment and residence in the United States. It is true that there is a rule in every establishment not to discriminate anybody with regards to races, but this could never be avoided when you look different from the majority of public. Dealing with discrimination is the hardest part of being an immigrant. It is very disappointing and frustrating when you are not given the right treatment you deserve because you are different from the public in many ways.
It hurts to be a hardworking individual just to gain approval and acceptance especially in the workplace. The Novel Statue of Liberty Dreams Awakens with Tears on Her Cheeks puts these emotions into words. “Give me your tired, your poor, but not too tired, not too poor. We will give you the red tape, the long line, white bread in its wrapper, forms to fill out, and the looks, the stares that say you are not where or what you should be, not quite, not yet, you will never live up to us. ” Immigrants should be prepared to face prejudice views from people who are misinformed.
It may seem that it is impossible for immigrants to reside in United States by there are good people who are open to the idea of immigration. Immigrants need to be strong and smart enough to handle this situation so that they would be able to overcome in time. I was born and raised in the United States of America and I am very proud of it. Without my mother and fathers’ determination to move from Sri Lanka and create a better life for their future family I would not be in the position I am now.
If they had not gone through some of the challenges they did I may not have had a good education, suitable living, or even food to eat. My father and mother have become very sucsessfull in their occupational fields and that is because of the opportunities America has given my family to grow. Immigrants long for success like my family has had but some cannot handle the challenges it comes with. As citizens of America we can make immigrants feel like they belong by understanding the situation they are in and not be discriminatory. America is a melting pot country and we should realize that it is extremely beneficial that way.
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