When you first arrived in Kentucky from another country of origin, you may have felt simultaneously overwhelmed with excitement, joy, anxiety and utter fear. Depending on your personal circumstances, such as whether your arrival here was associated with marrying a U.S. citizen, you were coming to the United States to launch a business or were facing a less-positive situation that included crossing a border without paperwork, you may have encountered numerous challenges on your first day.
Beyond that, adjusting to living in a new place is stressful for most people, not just immigrants. As an immigrant, however, you are likely to encounter certain issues that wouldn't pose much of a problem for someone who was born and raised in the U.S., such as learning to speak English or eating American-style foods. A key to success is building a strong support system.
Things to keep in mind
No two people adapt to life in Kentucky or other U.S. states in exactly the same way. It is likely, however, that you may relate to experiences that other immigrants have had who have trod similar paths before you. The following list includes tips for minimizing your stress levels as you do your best to become a productive member of American society:
- Try to keep a sense of humor: Chances are, you might use the wrong English word or pronounce something incorrectly when trying to speak to a new neighbor. It's better to try to take such moments in stride and laugh them off than stress over learning new language skills.
- Understand that similar phrases may have different meanings: One woman told how embarrassed she was when adapting to life in the U.S. because she realized that when people here ask someone how they are doing, it is more of a greeting than a personal invitation for conversation. She said she received more than one confused look when she would start telling people all about her day as they quickly asked how she was doing while continuing to walk past her.
- Recognize that you are in a new place: Whether you came to the U.S. from Mexico, Vietnam, India, Europe or the Dominican Republic, you can't expect things to be the same as they were in your home land. If you prepare yourself by recognizing that many things in the United States will be different, from customs to food or clothing styles, as well as state and federal laws, you will be more apt to successfully adapt to your new lifestyle.
If a legal problem arises
If there's a problem with your paperwork or an employer or local police officer, try not to panic. Many legal problems regarding U.S. immigration laws are temporary and resolvable if you know your rights and how to protect them. An experienced immigration law attorney can advocate on your behalf.