The five main shortcomings of Americans and how immigrants learn to live with them - ForumDaily
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The top five shortcomings of Americans and how immigrants can learn to live with them

The difference in mentality is probably the most difficult obstacle to the successful integration of immigrants into a new society. You are unlikely to be able to build a successful career and feel at ease in another country if the very communication with its inhabitants causes at least discomfort, and in the worst case, fear and rejection. The incomprehensibility and unpredictability of people of a different culture makes many Russian-speaking immigrants become isolated in the environment of "their own" - albeit imperfect, but extremely understandable compatriots.

Photo: Shutterstock

The problem is that the deeper such “internal emigration” becomes, the more difficult it will be to get out of it. At the same time, a proven way to avoid such a situation is to accept that in any country, in addition to advantages, there are disadvantages, and you should decide for yourself which country’s disadvantages are more tolerable for you, and advantages are more valuable. In addition, one should not forget that the merits of this or that mentality are often just a continuation of its shortcomings. Let's try to find some benefit even in what is traditionally disliked by Russian-speaking immigrants in the United States.

1. Almost hypocritical inpoliteness

People from Russia and other post-Soviet countries often complain about the inability to understand what Americans really think. Indeed, for immigrants it sometimes seems unnatural that the interlocutor can greet them with delight, and after a second forget about their existence. Rejection in America can be accompanied by such florid praise that a person from another culture may genuinely not understand that he has been refused, and assurances of friendship may mean nothing at all.

Innocent-looking proposals may hide a catch, the consequences of which you will have to deal with in court. An American can listen to you with sympathy, and then report "to the right place" if it seems to him that you are doing something illegal (especially when it comes to insincerity in immigration matters). Encounters with such things sometimes make Russian-speaking immigrants be in constant tension when dealing with Americans, and the natural desire to avoid tension prompts, accordingly, to communicate as little as possible with the "hypocritical Yankees." What can be done in such a case?

First, it’s worth mentioning right away that not all Americans are like that. As a rule, the farther you move away from the “shores” into the interior of the country, the more direct and direct people you will meet. Moreover, the directness and pressure of some of them can even shock an unprepared Russian who is not used to opening his soul to the first person he meets. But even if you move in a business environment where complete sincerity is not welcome, you can find a lot of merit in such American behavior.

First, politeness is not always a bad thing. Friendliness, even ostentatious and superficial, reinforces the overall feeling of comfort and basic security. Secondly, a polite refusal protects your feelings and does not give rise to treacherous complexes and self-doubt. Even pointing out mistakes to you, Americans often try to emphasize that your very attempt to do something is valuable to them, and there is a rational grain in any of your ideas. Thirdly, political correctness and tolerance for any views helps to avoid unnecessary quarrels and conflicts that can complicate not only joint work, but also life.

Fourth, uncertainty about the other person's true motives can be a good incentive to develop your own business culture, which can be especially helpful for those who have never had business experience before. The memory that in dealing with any person it is important not to forget about one's own interests can sometimes be really exhausting psychologically. But over time, this is what can help you build common personal boundaries for everyone, business rules, your own business relationship procedures, in a word, your own rules of the game. This, in turn, opens up space for both self-improvement and creativity. Over time, you won't need to waste time guessing what the other person wants. You will learn to identify your personal preferences and taboos independently from what he wants, which, by the way, significantly increases the feeling of self-sufficiency.

And one moment. In order to relax and completely trust someone, you always have close friends, including among compatriots. But even in your own country, trusting everyone in a row is a dangerous strategy that threatens with problems and disappointments. Therefore, the ability to build "faceless" relationships is in any case a useful skill.

2. Huge bureaucracy

Long and cumbersome bureaucratic processes are really capable of bringing to white heat people who, no matter where they come from, will never were not immigrants in their own country, and therefore are in happy ignorance of the work of their native immigration services. But you can look at it from another point of view.

Yes, America is a country of immigrants, and for the most part it is easier for visitors to adapt here than anywhere else. However, people everywhere remain people, and in any country in the world there will always be those who want to abuse the vulnerability of an immigrant. There are snobs everywhere who are accustomed to considering being different as a sign of "second class", and the temptation to use someone who is not yet able to effectively protect himself will always be too great for some.

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It is to protect against abuse and corruption that notorious procedures exist. They are provided here not only in immigration matters, but also in any large companies, and their main advantage is that they are the same for everyone. How to apply, how to write a resume, how to get a job, what criteria you need to meet - these are the same criteria that both Americans and people from any country in the world must follow. Discrimination in such cases is unacceptable. This is how you should look at procedures, no matter how boring and complicated they may seem - they exist to protect you.

3. Not a step without a lawyer

Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case, and this point follows directly from the previous two. On the other hand, in practice, everything turns out to be not so scary. Unless you're in a big business and your immigration case isn't too complicated, you won't need lawyers very often. In the United States, it is perfectly possible to live and work with the help of lawyers only in very limited cases, such as when filing taxes or preparing immigration documents. Another thing is that it is always better to have such a specialist on hand, and in which case you know who to contact. But you must admit that such knowledge will be useful in any country.

Photo: Shutterstock

4. Stereotypes and categories

This point perhaps most of all expresses the paradoxical nature of the American mentality. On the one hand, Americans are freedom-loving and consider it completely normal to criticize the authorities. On the other hand, for the most part they are afraid to go against public opinion and rarely dare to stand in solidarity with the persecuted or dissidents. On the one hand, the space for business development that exists in America implies unlimited freedom for creativity, but on the other hand, most Americans are wary of everything non-standard and incomprehensible to them.

On the one hand, charity is developed among Americans, but on the other hand, they prefer to help certain categories of people, whether they are blacks, Hispanics, victims of domestic violence, and so on. If you don't fit into any of the categories, but are facing similar problems, it will actually be harder for you to get help. As a result, some immigrants are good at using the system and even abusing it by conforming to formal requirements, while others, faced with real arbitrariness, do not know how to get protection.

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However, the advantage of a free society is that we ourselves can, if not create categories, then at least publicly raise relevant questions. For example, in California, volunteers are quite active. Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity - an interfaith group, which mainly includes believers of various Christian churches, united by the idea of ​​​​helping immigrants. They try to help immigrants avoid deportation, organize rallies in defense of detained immigrants, and, more importantly, prepare letters of support from the community for them, which are often taken into account by American courts.

Also, human rights organizations draw the attention of the press to specific stories and help create a public outcry. But after all, theoretically, nothing prevents the Russian-speaking diaspora from also actively engaging in assistance to “their” immigrants, including legal assistance. By the way, such activities are already underway. Some cities are creating resource centers for new immigrants (mainly Russian speakers), and political emigrants create their own self-help groups. Unfortunately or fortunately, personal initiative plays a very important role in America.

5. Personal qualities

Next in the list of shortcomings highlighted by Russian-speaking immigrants are certain personal qualities of Americans, for example, the rigidity and “social Darwinist” pragmatism of experienced businessmen, the low level of education and the greed for the populism of “ordinary” Americans, and so on. However, such shortcomings are not characteristic of all Americans, but rather of certain social groups. The beauty of the United States is that here you can find people of very different levels of culture and views, which allows you to avoid close communication with those who are unpleasant to you. But the search for "their own spirit" people, on the contrary, can become quite an exciting process that will make immigration even more interesting and fulfilling.

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