I moved to New York from Moscow, Russia last fall for college. That was a hard decision for me as I had to leave the city I was used to, leave my family, friends, and start a completely different new life.
My first year in college was tough. I couldn't get used to the culture, and people's mentality here. I felt like a stranger at every party I went to, I didn't get my friends' jokes, I couldn't be witty and funny when talking to them. The language barrier was a problem, too. Doing homework in a foreign language was a nightmare. I could spend about 30 minutes reading one single page from the textbook, which normally would take me about 30 seconds if it was written in Russian.
I felt terrible and wanted to go home. But I just persuaded myself that I am not the only one going through this, and there are millions of people who have been in my place. So I won't be the one giving up.
It is my second year here at Stony Brook already and things have changed a lot. I have become more confident and I am able to laugh at my friends jokes now. LMAO.
When I look back on the person I used to be before coming to the United States, I do see some changes. My friends from home see them, too, and usually make jokes about me being "Americanized" here.
Here are some of the changes that come to mind first.
I stopped getting all dressed up every time I leave the house
If you ever take a Russian person to the mall in the United States, believe me, they will pass out after seeing how Americans are dressed. I have noticed that people here like everything to be casual and easy. Why spend too much effort if there is no special occasion? That is not how it worked back home. My friends would put makeup on even when taking the trash out. There is always competition, especially between girls. You need to look perfect always unless you want to lose.
I have become more independent
I don't know if this is America's "fault" or just the fact that I am living all by myself now, without my parent's protection, but it is a fact. My family and friends have noticed it, too. A year ago I would have been scared to even call the doctor to schedule an appointment, I would always ask my mom to do that for me. LOL. But not anymore!
I started being more smiley on the streets and saying "Hi" to people I don't even know
This is something I like about American culture: people are friendly everywhere, no matter what. Even when they are just being polite and ask me, "How are you?" I know that they don't actually care about it, but this question always makes me feel a little better. I don't know why.
I started using Snapchat
My first few months at college I was watching people constantly taking pictures of everything they do to Snap their friends. It drove me crazy. Whenever I went out with someone it had to go on Snapchat first. My friends almost forced me to get a Snapchat, and I'm using it now when I need to talk to someone, but, to be honest, I still like texting more.
I can't say that I have embraced all the particular qualities of the culture and can be called an American now, but I do feel more comfortable here. There are still some aspects that drive me crazy that I don't understand, but it has only been a year, so I am wondering to see what I will be like by the time of my graduation.