Mar 252013
 
Stereotypes: What Americans Think of Eastern Europeans

Kay Deaux’s To Be an Immigrant (review) devotes considerable ink on stereotypes that Americans hold about immigrants. Some immigrant groups have it worse than others, e.g. Haitians or Mexicans vs. white Europeans, but every immigrant regardless of their country of origin, nationality, or race experiences some form of stereotyping. Coping with with such simplified perceptions affects the immigration experience. To confirm and expand my idea about natural-born Americans’ perceptions of Eastern Europeans, a more familiar category for the locals than Central Europeans, I posed this question on Facebook: Eastern Europeans Are… As is […] Continue reading >

Feb 072013
 
If You Plant a Man in America

If you exile a [Slovak] and plant him in America, he will be unhappy; he will suffer because people can be happy, can function freely, only among those who understand them. To be lonely is to be among men who do not know what you mean. Exile, solitude, is to find yourself among people whose words, gestures, handwriting are alien to your own, whose behaviour, reactions, feelings, instinctive responses, and thoughts and pleasures and pains, are too remote from yours, whose education and outlook, the tone and quality of […] Continue reading >

Jan 192013
 
In Praise of Weak Ties

When you leave your country you leave behind a crucial element of your life as a human being: your social networks.* You put significant physical distance between yourself and the 150 or so people in your circle with whom, according to the Dunbar number, you have a meaningful relationship. Whether the tie between you and the individuals in your network is altered, weakened, or severed altogether depends on its strength: whereas strong ties remain strong, weak ties may disintegrate. To succeed in your integration into a new country you […] Continue reading >

Dec 132012
 
A Heroic Image

Exile is morally suspect because it breaks one’s solidarity with a group, i.e. it sets apart an individual who ceases to share the experience of colleagues left behind. His moral torment reflects his attachment to a heroic image of himself and he must, step by step, come to the painful conclusion that to do a morally valid work and to preserve an untarnished image of himself is rarely possible. —Czeslaw Milosz in “To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays”

Nov 162011
 
How to Be Homesick Without Going Crazy: Action

Stressful situations like homesickness (see previous post) elicit two basic responses: fight or flight. You can confront your homesickness by getting angry, argumentative, or violent (if you’ve ever wanted to punch someone who doesn’t know where your country is located, you know what I’m talking about). Or you can try to get away from it with the help of drugs/alcohol or social withdrawal. I say there’s a third way: embrace your homesickness. Wherever You Go, There You Are* Each and every method below rests on a single prerequisite: accept your reality. […] Continue reading >

Nov 142011
 
How to Be Homesick Without Going Crazy: Understanding

When as a transplant you find yourself far away from everything you know, you’re bound to get homesick from time to time. Because I don’t enjoy feeling homesick, I looked back at how I’ve not only combated but also embraced my homesickness and, I hope, turned it into something positive. To deal with something, one must understand it. This first of two posts will examine homesickness as a phenomenon. What’s homesickness all about? What a Feeling, Bein’ Homesick’s Believin’ The Oxford Dictionary defines being homesick as “experiencing a longing for one’s […] Continue reading >

Oct 032011
 
Acculturating? You Have Options!

It’s a special kind of discovery to learn your personal experience has an underpinning in academic theory. A paper by Jean Phinney, Gabriel Horenczyk, Karmela Liebkind, and Paul Vedder on the connection between immigration, ethnic identity, and well-being validated my personal transformation that led to American Robotnik. The Acculturation Model To be more precise, it was an overview of John Berry’s acculturation model that confirmed what I’d gone through. Berry asserts that acculturation has two dimensions: the degree of preservation of one’s heritage culture and adaptation to the host society. In […] Continue reading >