Learning anything new is challenging and causes a lot of anxiety among many other intricacies. Is it socially acceptable? What are my friends going to think? What will my family think of me? A lot of these same things happen when we are embracing a new culture.
Learning a new culture first starts with observations, we observe only to realize that there are major differences between the way we carry our day-to-day than others carry it, in this instance, let’s say a young Dominican teenager may realize that she does not eat the same food as her American friends. (Yes! That was me!)
At snack time and when it came to dining out together, the choices were very diverse. Something that can begin to cause anxiety for anyone in a new environment. The thought of being different, standing out, making choices that are outside what everyone else considers ‘normal’ can in itself bring about a lot of questions and point out a lot of the differences in culture. What most of us don’t realize at that time is that a lot of people yearn to be different; wishing they had the courage to make a decision because it is what they want, not what is socially acceptable. But that is something thought about much later on.
After the initial phase of observation, comes the change. At least for me it was this way. I do realize we all have different experiences, but from my personal observations, very little times do you find that someone is immediately accepting of being different from the rest. It is true that we all look to fit into our social surroundings, we all, as our human nature, seek acceptance; to fit in.
But that young Dominican woman embracing a new culture learns to embrace change; she learns to enjoy both a slice of pizza and a pastelito! It is real!
For a food lover like myself, this was one of the most difficult changes in embracing American culture, one that I am still working through – everyday! Through my journey in engaging both rice, guandules as well as shepherd’s pie into my regular meal plans, instead of being a struggle turned out to be pure joy and enjoyment. Because like the famous Anna Thomas once said “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly,” I learned to embrace it.