I have lived in the US for 16 years now, a little over two-thirds of my life. But my parents did not change their culture and many of their child-raising habits did not change. While my friends had sleepovers, my Lebanese parents deemed sleepovers unnecessary and completely restricted. Movie night for my friends meant a new American family movie, while my parents watched whatever old Egyptian movie played that night. I grew up with strict parents in a comparatively looser environment. During my childhood, I resented this experience my parents gave me, but as an adult, I would like to thank them.
This is not to say that my American friends need not to thank their parents for their irreplaceable experiences. I just think being the weird kid, the one who couldn't finish a sleepover or the kid who didn't sneak out in fear of the consequences (not just a "you're grounded"), it helped me carry part of my culture.
I caught up with my friends later on, I watched so many American movies and had sleepovers and got to travel by myself, it just didn't happen at their pace. In the meantime, my parents taught me my language, showed me movies that reflect on our country's society, helped me establish a strong relationship with my family and gave me recipes I could not learn from a cookbook.
Beside my Lebanese culture, I have a strong American culture in me, too. I kept so much of the positive that my friends and professors passed on to me. I watched my American friends develop strong independence which helped me take initiative in my own life.
My Foreign-American friends and family come with an extra twist. They all carry an extra language, different recipes, different solutions and beautiful beliefs. I can relate closer to some of my Mexican friends than my American friends with how strictly our parents raised us. But I relate with my American friends on our experiences with boys.
The beauty of the situation comes from the fusion of the cultures, taking the strengths from both sides to create a new and improved culture. I have kept so much from my roots and expanded on it from my American life.
Being a part of two cultures just means double the fun, double the holiday celebrations and more things to teach the people around you. People are always eager to guess the language you're speaking or where your ethnic look hails from. You know all the markets that have global foods not found at your neighborhood grocery store. You have reasons to travel out of the country and you know your way around that foreign country. It's like being in an exclusive club when you're with your American friends, but when you're in another country, the American lifestyle is your other exclusive club.
Maybe it wasn't so easy being different when you were in elementary school and high school, but the older you get, the more you realize that having strong foreign roots really make life more fun.