People have somehow gathered from my recent posts that I defend the right of immigrants not to adapt in any way to their new country. Nothing could be further from my point of view. I emigrated twice, and every time worked hard on figuring out how things worked in my new country and adapting to them. Unless you are willing to engage in such efforts, you have no business emigrating, in my opinion. One of the reasons why emigration can be so helpful to one’s personal development is precisely that one goes through this transformative process and learn new things about oneself. (Zygmunt Bauman talks about it better than I ever could, so I won’t retell his ideas.)
So here are some of the things that I learned to do differently after I emigrated:
– I now pay taxes honestly and in full. What’s more, it makes me feel good to do so.
– I haven’t plagiarized a single assignment when I was a student. (In my country, you had to quote without attributing. It was required.)
– All of my whorish attires have been sacrificed. Oh, I miss them sorely. . . 🙂
– I now say “Hi, how are you?”, “Please” and “Thank you.” Sometimes, I even smile at strangers.
– I don’t steal office supplies from work. I have been tempted, I confess, but I haven’t done it.
– When a stranger politely addresses me in the street with “Excuse me, Ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you”, I don’t bark “What??” in response. I’ve even been known to say, “Yes, how can I help you?” a couple of times.
– I don’t toady to my supervisors at work.
– I don’t humiliate, offend or demean students in any way.
– During departmental meetings, I vote my conscience, even when everybody else’s vote is different.
– I refuse to be afraid of expressing my opinion.
– I have learned to enjoy a hamburger. (That’s one of the most surprising adjustments to me.)
– I don’t call people after 9 pm and don’t arrive unannounced at their doorstep.
– When a bar closes at an ungodly hour of 11 pm, I meekly pack up and go home.
– I don’t scoff at everything any man says the second he says it. I now listen and even engage in a dialogue.
– I have learned to wait in line for a bus, instead of running to the doors like a tornado, sweeping everybody off my path.
There is room for growth, of course, since I am yet to learn to operate a grill, remember what sport St. Louis Cardinals play, and wear jeans.
What did you do to adapt to a country where you emigrated, studied or lived for a while?