Most people are familiar with immigration. It’s quite often taken advantage of as a political platform, but at the end of the day, being an immigrant is so much more than just moving to another country.
Immigration is about adapting yourself to the new culture and society that is around you and, especially as a teenager, finding a way to study and learn within those elements, usually within a completely new education system.
Having come from South Africa to England at the age of 14, I have a first-hand experience in what utter loneliness feels like. Even though I was thrilled by the concept of moving to a safer and more prosperous country, I had to sacrifice familiarity. 14 years of my life had been spent getting to know people and making friends, but all that disappears when you leave home. Before moving, I had my life planned out and friends beside me, but suddenly, there was no one. The added absence of contact with everyone I left behind only served to make things feel so much worse on top of it all.
Being a teenager is one of the most confusing times in life
One begins to discover who they are and who they seek to become as a person. But when your whole world perspective changes, one can’t help but succumb to pure frustration. The feeling of social isolation is not so much a choice as a young immigrant, but rather an unfortunate inevitability. Your mind is open to new experiences and all you thought you knew becomes obsolete. It will no doubt be difficult to ingratiate yourself into this new, foreign society at school/college, but remember the difficulty endured by those who find you foreign. They are still just teenagers and have the maturity to match.
Not everyone will be able to comprehend and understand the plight you are going through
But it’s your responsibility to enlighten them and their responsibility to respect you. Don’t be ashamed to admit confusion about some odd cultural custom, and never hide what you believe in. There is no greater freedom than that of an intellectual exchange. Never compromise on who you are a person, because that is what makes people special: their individuality. People will ultimately respect you more if you come to accept yourself, but also if you’re honest in doing so.
Looking at the life of a young immigrant from the outside, things will undoubtedly be difficult at times.
More unusual cultural behaviours will often confuse you, but remember that they’re just doing what they know best. Welcome them; open expressions of inclusivity are essential for younger people. Everyone needs to understand that young immigrants will come to feel as though they are in limbo between their two cultures, as what was once familiar becomes foreign, and the new society becomes more familiar. The most important thing for both parties is compromise. That, and honesty.