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A Culture Smash From Moldova To America English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1090 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Chang-Rae Lee’s article, “Mute in an English-Only World” illustrates exactly how I felt when I stepped off the airplane. I felt voiceless even though I could speak. About a month after we arrived in the U.S., my dad enrolled me and my sister into elementary school. That is where I faced my number one obstacle: learning the English language.  Most of the time, as my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Rigden was explaining an assignment, I was dozing off or daydreaming about being home again. Because I did not understand anything the teacher said or asked me, my grades suffered greatly. In Moldova, I loved waking up in the morning, getting ready for school, and going to school. I was used to getting As and being one of the best students in my class. In Moldova, education was considered not a persons top priority but I wanted to be the best so I studied hard. Coming to the U.S., however, totally changed what kind of grades I

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earned. Instead of the usual As, my new usual grades were Fs and Ds. I went from being at the top of the class all the way to the bottom. I was overwhelmed with sad and disappointment with myself. I was uncertain of my abilities and scared to take a risk at speaking in English. But I got over the fear and I decided to do something about my low grades and I tried harder in studying English.

               Going to church is a really important part in my family’s culture. As a family we go to church every Sunday and other times on the weekdays. Going to church in America, however, was torture for me. The sermons were awesome because they were in Russian and I understood them. Fellowship afterward, however, was my main problem. Girls and boys my age were talking in English and having fun after church. They would joke around with each other and ask me a question or two, but I did not understand them, so I thought they were making fun of me because I couldn’t speak English. Because of my paranoid thinking, I was by myself most of the time. Even though the church youth and I were united through one culture and one faith in Jesus Christ, we were separated because of the language barrier.               

 Being afraid of talking in English, I tried to stay as far away from it as possible. Trying to evade the English language, however, wasn’t easy, since it was everywhere. The only place I could go to relax and be myself is my home. When I would come home, I felt like my problems temporarily disappeared. At home, I could communicate with people who shared my language and had the same views as I did. At home, I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. It was a safe place to go, rest, and regain my

“enthusiasm” of learning the English language. I was very afraid of speaking in English out loud to people because I still had a big accent, in time, however, I learned and became

more fluent.

                  After a year of painfully trying to learn the English language, I was finally beginning to see some positive results. I finally learned the English language and became a could’ve talked easily without much of an accent. However, another problem transpired. Later on, I became fluent in writing, reading, and speaking the English language. However, once I learned the English language wasn’t all that perfect either. After that, I became my mom’s personal interpreter. Since I was the oldest child in my family, I had to constantly be by my mom’s side. For example, once my mom was in the hospital and the nurse gave her a paper she needed to sign in order for the doctor to see her. I had to translate every disease first in English to myself and then in russian to my mom. It took a long time I had I had to go to appointments, stores, and gas stations to help my mom. It was exciting at first, but after a little while I became less enthusiastic about it.

Today, it’s much easier for me to speak in English to my dad, sister, and brother. Although sometimes speaking in English causes arguments when my mom is there because she doesn’t understand us, we can’t help but converse in it because that’s the language we’ve heard and learned since coming to the United States. Sometimes this causes my parents to panic because they’re losing their children to a new, different, and frightening culture. My younger sister and brother and sometimes even I forget words and phrases in Russian as a result my mom sometimes gets mad because we can’t speak

in Russian that fluently anymore and she cant speak English at all so it creates a gap between us.

American fashion was another thing that I have noticed that’s different

between the culture I came from to the culture I came into. In Moldova people liked to dress to impress. They dressed modestly and with style, as if by going to the store they have to make a fashion statement. Here, however is just the opposite. People in the United States don’t really care or try hard to impress. I see people walking around, and shopping in their pajamas, looking like they just got out of bed. I’ve lived in the U.S. for 9 years now and whether I wanted to or not, in some ways I changed to the American culture. So even though it’s not normal for me to shop in my pajamas or wear a dress and heels to the mall, I will be wearing a comfortable shirt and jeans.

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      Our culture is close-knit and supports strong family ties. American people, however, are more independent and self-reliant than people who come from the Slavic cultures. For example here in America, there’s a tradition that when a child is 18 years old, she usually moves away from her parent’s house. In my culture, the children don’t leave their parents until they get married. Even if the couple is married if they have no money and need a place to stay, they can come back and live with one of their parents. That is another difference that I noticed between my culture and society.             

In conclusion, coming to the United States with the Moldavian culture, right into the American one, gave me and my family quit a culture shock. I can easily relate to those people that have mixed cultural backgrounds because I am a combination of two cultures myself. I was born into the Moldavian culture but I grew up in the American one. I’m a part of two cultures that shaped the person that I am today.


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