It is likely you’d agree that nothing or no one could have fully prepared you for life as an immigrant in Colorado. You may have researched the customs and laws of the state, as well as those associated with life in general in the United States before you arrived; however, there are, no doubt, numerous issues that presented challenges for you as you began your new lifestyle here.
Such transitions are often stressful but can be less so if you have a strong support system in place. Whether your biggest problems at the moment pertain to personal issues, such as language barriers or confusion about certain U.S. customs, or you are facing a more serious issue, perhaps having to do with your legal status, if you know where to seek support, you may be able to find a solution to your problem.
Adapting to culture change
Perhaps people in your country of origin hug or kiss each other upon greeting. That custom may seem a bit strange or cause discomfort to many people in an American culture. Likewise, many things people in U.S. society commonly do may strike you as odd when you first arrive. The following list provides helpful information that may make your transition less stressful:
- It is common to say “please” and “thank you” often in America. In your culture, it may be typical to simply ask for whatever it is you need; however, if, for instance, you want someone to hand you something, it is customary in the United States to preface your request by saying “please.”
- Personal space is important to most Americans. It is polite to keep your distance when greeting or having a conversation with someone; if you stand too close, it might make the other person uncomfortable.
- When you first learned to speak English, you, no doubt, learned a few common phrases, such as “I’m sorry.” However, you may not have realized, at the time, that Americans often use this phrase to express sadness as well as to apologize; if you share disappointing news with someone, he or she may say, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
- People in America tend to shake hands when saying hello, good-bye or agreeing to do something together. If touching people outside your immediate family seems odd to you, you can explain that you are not yet comfortable with that custom and, perhaps, could offer a slight nod of your head instead.
You’ll likely encounter many other customs in American culture that make you feel unsure of how you should act or respond. Reading about common customs can help prepare you for everyday life in Colorado and can also provide ideas for what to do or say in certain situations.
Beyond your cultural experience
With every month that passes, you may feel more at ease in your new lifestyle. Progress can come to a screeching halt, however, if a legal problem arises. If you run into trouble regarding a visa, an undocumented status or an immigration interview issue, you can ask someone well-versed in U.S. immigration law to advocate on your behalf.