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People move from one place to another in search for new beginning and better life.

Many newcomers are surprised to find that adjusting to life in the United States is harder than expected. Many parents struggle to preserve the best of their native culture while trying to understand and embrace the culture of their new home. Culture holds an important role in anyone’s life and stepping outside one’s native region opens a new world of complexity and often confusion.

Migration itself is your life at a crossroad.

You know you must take a direction, yet you are unable to move staying still in the middle of the road: scared, discouraged, confused, and stuck in circular mind games over which is the “right direction” to go. How to make “the right choice” when everything is so foreign? Fighting your own inner battle of head vs. heart; want vs. must; love vs. responsibility; right vs. wrong… Been there? Me too — and It’s terrifying, devastating, and paralyzing.

What is migration?

Migration is a process of social change where an individual, alone or accompanied by others, because of one or more reasons of economic betterment, political upheaval, education or other purposes, leaves one geographical area for extended stay or permanent settlement in another geographical area. It is not only a trans-national process but can also be rural–urban.

Rural–urban migration is more likely to be for economic or educational reasons, whereas migration across nations may be for social, educational, economic or political reasons.

How does it feel to be uprooted?

Any such process involves not only leaving social networks behind but also includes experiencing at first a sense of loss, dislocation, alienation and isolation, which will lead to processes of acculturation. A series of factors in the environment combined with levels of stress, the ability to deal with stress, and the ability to root oneself according to one’s personality traits, will produce either a sense of settling down or a sense of feeling isolated and alienated.

Consequently reasons for migration, prior preparation to migration and social support will all improve an individual’s coping mechanisms. In addition, acceptance and welcome by the new nation will also be significant in the origin of stress and how the individual deals with such stress.

Acculturation is the process of learning about and adapting to a new culture. One may need adjustments in all or some of the aspects of daily living, including language, work, shopping, housing, children’s schooling, health care, recreation, and social life. Relocation to a society that is similar to one’s own requires less acculturation than moving to a society where cultural norms are unfamiliar.

What could happen as a result of cultural grief?

The loss of one’s social structure and culture can cause a grief reaction. Migration involves the loss of the familiar, including language (especially colloquial and dialect), attitudes, values, social structures and support networks. Grieving for this loss can be viewed as a healthy reaction and a natural consequence of migration; however, if the symptoms cause significant distress or impairment and last for a long period of time, you should seek professional help, a therapist who could understand your struggle.

Person who can’t adapt to the new culture suffers from cultural mourning. It is the experience of the uprooted person – or group – resulting from loss of social structures, cultural values and self-identity: the person – or group – continues to live in the past, is visited by supernatural forces from the past while asleep or awake, suffers feelings of guilt over abandoning culture and homeland, feels pain if memories of the past begin to fade, but finds constant images of the past (including traumatic images) intruding into daily life, and feels stricken by anxieties, gloomy thoughts, and anger that damage the ability to get on with daily life.

Cultural bereavement could lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, self-harm and other mental health disorders.

Difference between Acculturation and Assimilation

  • Meeting of cultures always produces results in terms of changes in both the cultures, and acculturation and assimilation refer to two important and different changes in these cultures.
  • Assimilation refers to the process where some of the majority community’s cultural aspects are absorbed in such a manner that the home cultural aspects get mitigated or lost. Assimilation involves being absorbed into the new culture. A popular metaphor for this process is The Melting Pot.
  • Acculturation is a process where the cultural aspects of the majority community are adapted without losing the traditions and customs of the minority community. Acculturation is the process of learning the practices and customs of a new culture without loosing the aspects’ of your own.
  • Minority culture changes in the case of assimilation whereas it remains intact in the case of acculturation.

How can I help you?

I specialized in cross-cultural therapy, have significant experience working with people of all life styles, backgrounds and beliefs and have personal experience overcoming my own cultural mourning.