I want to start a series of entries about the cultural stuff I have encountered throughout my time in the states. I want to be as objective as possible. The purpose of this is to give my own perspective about fitting in a culture across the continent.
For people like me who grow up in Hong Kong til highschool, then went to college in states and worked for many years, there are two scenarios for people like me when it comes to deciding a long-term 'home' in a cultural context:
A. Assimilating American Culture
To fully utilize or enjoy what America can offer to individuals, you have to totally immerse yourself into the American culture. What does that mean? It means giving up your own Hong Kong culture (or what they called FOB-ness) and be ready to be Americanized. Action items are:
- Build your social circles around caucasians and those who enjoys living in the states but born and raised in a foreign country.
- Give up your hobbies you have developed while you are a kid in HK, and embrace what American culture gives you.
- Cut ties with your FOB friends, and hang out with your Caucasian or Asian American friends
- Develop American hobbies, like football, baseball, basketball, skiing etc.
- Stop following HK news and gossips!
- Be aware of U.S. news and politics.
B. Go Back to where you belong (be it Taiwan, or HK, or China)
Go back to work and live where you have grown up. This is the only way for you to completely get back to your own cultural identity and not feel alienated.
- Re-build friendships with old classmates, relatives and childhood friends. Since you have not been seeing them for quite some time, TIME is needed to re-build these friendships
- Be mentally ready for adjustments in living style and working habits. U.S. culture and Chinese culture, afterall, is two vastly different culture. I am talking about reverse cultural-shock here!! Some people can't take it, some can; some takes shorter time, some takes longer. Be adaptive and flexible.
- There will still be some 'American Way' inside you. Treasure it and use it as your 'edge' towards locals. It always comes in handy - your English, your oversea's experiences, your broad exposure, your friendship circle etc......
C. Experience a brand-new culture
This is for the young and brave who can challenge themselves to live in another country - Europe, Middle-East etc. Yes, I know friends who are multicultural-aware and spend time in foreign countries exploring and learning lots. This is probably the most rewarding experience one can get. But of course, can you sustain life with this kind of backpacking lifestyle? Can you live a nomad life? This gets tougher if you are married and/or have childen.
I have seen numerous people who are 'in-between'. Some can tolerate it, some cannot. A lot of people ended up getting stuck with the same group of people for many many years, because they neither 1) want to transform themselves into a more Americanized person, nor 2) Go back to the country where they belong. Of course, if you are close or ready to retire, it doesn't matter as you just want to live a quiet life doing whatever you like. But if you are still young, then why not give yourself a chance to be A or B or C? Calculate your risks, and pick something that is suitable to you. No one but yourself can control the destiny of yourself.