• Vera Okolo

    I can almost completely relate, except I’m of Nigerian descent. My parents moved to America before they had me. I was raised in a sheltered manner so I always felt like I was observing American culture when I was younger rather than being born into it. Then I went to a public high school and felt something like culture shock because it was the first time in my life that I was immersed in American culture. Not so surprisingly I had an identity crisis, trying to figure out where I fit in since I didn’t fit into American culture all that well.
    My parents didn’t do a good job of passing on Nigerian culture to me, which I didn’t care about so much when I was younger but started pestering them about constantly in high school. For instance, I still try to practice Igbo (one of the languages) with my Dad because he is far more interested in helping than my mom is, and yet, he’s too busy to really sit down and practice with me. For some reason, my parents only speak English to me and my siblings but Igbo with all their friends and family.
    I tried adopting the “uniqueness” mindset, so these things don’t always bother me too much now. But this past week, two separate times on the same day, I introduced myself to two different people as an American-born Nigerian and was told “Oh, so then you’re not really Nigerian.” I get that so much from people and it stings to be rejected from a culture that I was raised in. Guess I don’t really fit in anywhere.

  • Rake Leaves

    Same. It’s like stuck in the between the two cultures:

    When trying to fit in with Chinese people, I feel at home, as if I fit in with the culture that I learned from my parents and grew up with (was raised in China for a while), yet could not fully be Chinese because I do not speak “Native level” Chinese nor was taught “knowledge every Chinese person knows”. Being raised in America there’s no way to learn about what people are taught to do in China unless your parents were intent on instructing.

    When trying to fit in with American people, I feel accustomed, because I’m used to our habits and way of doing things, yet feel distant to everything. Christmas? We don’t celebrate it. I never understood why Christmas was special. My knowledge comes from watching movies, going to stores, and hearing classmates talk about their plans. Ultraman? Sun WuKong? etc? I love them! Used to watch them as a kid. But “regular” Americans don’t know what I watch, nor do I know what they watch.

    Many cultural ideas are “inconsistent”, because they flow from two different sources. Sometimes information does not match up. We eat noodles with fermented tofu, goose eggs, and Asian vegetables like shiitake, but people normally don’t? Oh ok. So people normally eat bread or spaghetti, based on surrounding details. You mean, people call me “pig” to be affectionate rather than be rude as it would be perceived in America? Oh ok. Family is the most important dedication! No, it’s independence! Seriously, which is it?

    Seems like many bi-cultural people (or minorities) experience this. Though undergoing varying cultures can be fun, getting torn between them everyday feels tiring. But maybe the gap isn’t as wide as I make it to be. The biggest problem is I lack knowledge. The way to overcome that wall is to learn (how to be either one), right?