When you first arrived in Texas as an immigrant, you may have been excited as well as fearful. It’s never easy adapting to a new lifestyle, and if you have a language barrier, it definitely adds to the challenge. You hopefully have friends and family nearby, preferably some who are U.S. citizens or who have already navigated the immigration process and can provide encouragement and support as you begin life in a new community.
Many immigrants say there are numerous customs in the United States that caught them off guard when they first arrived. Perhaps you can relate to their confusion. You may also encounter legal issues that delay your progress or even threaten your ability to stay in Texas. If so, it is critical to know where to seek immediate support.
Things Americans say
Beyond actually having to translate everything you hear when you first start participating in a new society, there are certain words and phrases that people in the U.S. often use that seem strange to many immigrants. The following list shows some of these words and may help you adapt to your new culture more easily:
- Other cultures, perhaps including your country of origin, do not typically say, “Please” or “Thank you” as often as people in the United States do. Adopting these words as part of your common, everyday speech is a good place to start when trying to adapt to the U.S. culture.
- When you think of the word “sorry,” you likely associate it with an apology. However, in U.S. culture, people often use this word to express sadness, such as someone saying he or she is sorry to hear that your loved one has died.
- In American culture, it is common to shake hands as a form of introduction or familiar greeting, as well as to “seal a deal” or thank someone for something. If this behavior causes you discomfort, you can simply explain that touching people outside your immediate family is not typical for you and you would rather not participate in this custom.
- On the other hand, you may come from a place where it is common to hug or kiss someone’s cheek when greeting him or her. Many people in the United States prefer to keep more distance between themselves and the person or people to whom they are speaking.
Other U.S. customs, such as holding the door for someone behind you who is entering the same location or saving a spot for another person while standing in line may seem strange to you. No one expects you to understand every minor detail about typical daily life in America. If you speak to people who have lived here for a long time, you may find it easier to transition to your new lifestyle.
If legal issues arise
Just as everyday culture in Texas, or the United States in general, may be quite different from what is typical for you, the laws and regulations that govern behavior in the U.S. may not only be different from the laws in your country of origin but may change from time to time. It is important to stay updated and learn as much as you can, so you don’t run into trouble, especially regarding your current legal status.