Perceiving someone or a group as others
All people are perceived to be equal and similar by virtue of being human beings. However, the one unique feature that makes us different is what is referred to as culture. According to Doda (2005) culture can be defined as a shared way of life which is considered common in a group of people. In this sense one can distinguish one people from the other based on their interaction among other basic human activities. This is the exact feeling that I got when I moved to the US from my homeland Russia.
Having struggled with English as a language, I saw myself as different and part of ‘the others’ when I just move to the U.S. I had very few friends and even when I went out with them, it was a bit tough for me to blend in because interacting with them was very hard. Also, the company I kept would sometimes ignore me while in conversations as they knew I was not understanding everything they were saying. Although I could comprehend what everyone was saying, I was not fluent in speaking the language and thus kept quiet for fear or reproach and fell in the category of “others”. In what is referred to as ‘communication effectivity gap’ McFarlane (2010) says that language is a crucial tool in the process of communication and with the parties understanding each other, when there is a huge gap in the exchange of information and this can lead to communication breakdown. With my poor command of spoken English, I foul=nd myself in isolation.
As a Russian immigrant, settling in the United States was one of the hardest things that I have struggled with. There is a vast difference between the Russian culture and that of the native Americans. From my socialization, I had grown up considering that respect for elders was one of the key tenets for a young man and in no instance was this to be ignored. However, within a few months in the United States, I came to learn that social status is earned through the wealth that an individual has. Thus, the more the wealth, the more the respect. In this case, the elder people in the society who are poor, received no attention or respect from the youth. In fact, they were ridiculed and made fun of in public. This in part made me feel different, and I failed to understand how this society would be this cruel. Wholesomely, the American culture was totally different from what I had been socialized into.
In essence, there was a huge gap between me and the people that I came to meet in the United States. The Russian and the American cultures are very varied and to a large extent seemed two sides of a coin. With my socialization, it was hard for me to assimilate into the society here in the United States. In fact, I found myself alone and homesick. Human beings are naturally social beings and without people who understood me, the language barrier and even the food that was served cafeteria, my first year in the U.S. was not what I had longed for. In class, I even had a problem finding people to work with on group assignments and the professor was the one that came to my aid and fixed me in a group. Though the situation is different now, the events of my first semester at this institution and the U.S. as a whole was nothing to be proud of. It had come to a time when I felt like going back to Russia. However, I found some guys who were accommodative and friendly who helped me find my way.
McFarlane, D. (2010). Social Communication in a Technology-Driven Society: A Philosophical Exploration of Factor-Impacts and Consequences. American Communication Journal. Vol. 12 (13). 1-13.
Doda, Z. (2005). Introduction to Sociology. EPHTI