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Cultural traits for coping with the challenges of migration

What has helped me through the emotional roller coaster of being an immigrant?

Family ties

Latin American people are world known for being warmer, expressive, and for their large families that in most cases get along quite well and that are present through the good and the bad.

On the other hand, northern European cultures are known for much smaller families of quite independent individuals who may or may not stay in touch with their larger family.


But how does either of the above affect how one can cope with the challenges of migration? Easy, it’s all about having a support net.

But how does either of the above affect how one can cope with the challenges of migration? Easy, it’s all about having a support net. Even when you are not too close with your family, if you have friends that you see as your own family and stick to each other, chances are that you don’t feel so lonely or unsupported even when being in a different state, country, or continent! Since you have the possibility to message, chat, or call someone within your support network when you are feeling lonely.

When it is an intercontinental call time differences can really get in the way, but at the end of the day its important to find time to stay in touch with family and friends.


Whenever I am struggling with cultural differences, or I am just feeling homesick, I take refuge in my loved ones, their memories, and their pictures, reaching out to them and catching up is sooo nice! The few ones that have visited me in Germany so far really fueled my enthusiasm and charged my social battery to endure the challenges of being far from home.


Also I am so blessed to have a couple of good friends in Germany who understand being away from home, and the ups and downs of being an "Ausländer". Thank you for your support and for your understanding!


Peor es nada

Keeping expectations low is my cardio…Sad? A little bit. Practical? Oh yeah! Really, coming from a country where democracy has historically failed, and corruption is grabbing most social areas of life, it gets to a point that you then expect less. My brother, a very observant and wise guy had that as a life motto, expect the least of situations, then you might be positively surprised. Another of his core beliefs was to trust no one until they prove they can be trusted.

As an immigrant, both of the above have proven to be a good approach, especially since you are coming to a place where nobody knows you, and you basically do not know them either, and also quite frankly, making friends is a process that cannot be forced.

As an immigrant, both of the above have proven to be a good approach, especially since you are coming to a place where nobody knows you, and you basically do not know them either, and also quite frankly, making friends is a process that cannot be forced. In general, socializing in Germany is very different from Mexico, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Something I love is the natural "distance" that coworkers take from each other because it's one thing to be colleagues and another to be friends. Privacy also has another approach.


Quite honestly, I still show up to social events expecting nothing from them, knowing that I am not a gold coin to be loved by everyone, as we say in Mexico, and that it could be that I make some acquaintance with the other guests, or just politely keep my distance.


The joy of living or the ability to make yourself happy


On the blog from The Inter-American Development Bank, Pilar Conci explores the reasons behind Latin American people’s happiness ***.. One of the traits that favour strongly wel-being and life balance is an active social life, which it is based on family, friendship, and even religion. It seems that in several countries in the region, those relationships are so important that it can even favor the people overlooking lower standards of living, education, health, and even work or housing conditions.

It is so nice to have people who love us, appreciate us, respect us, and motivate us on the hard times right? But are we up to the task of doing that for ourselves too?

I love my husband with all my heart, but it is not fair for me to give him the huge responsibility of making me happy. At the same time, marriage is all about teamwork, and there can always be times in which we are struggling with things on our own (stress at work, situations within the extensive family, sickness, and in general life’s ups and downs).

Lately, when I start to notice I am getting overwhelmed by the cultural differences, missing my family, coping with stress at work, and so on, I try to make a serious effort to show up for myself and my own happiness.

Exercise is a great way of coping. Also dancing! So why wait for the weekend or to be invited to the local club to do so? All you need is YouTube, and not even a lot of motivation or belief, just energy and the willingness to make room for happiness. I strongly believe that we have to leave spaces for happiness to catch us, similarly to what John Legend sings “Save room for my love…Save room for a moment to be with me, Save room for my love, save a little save a little for me”.


In my case dancing, exercising, painting or writing is like giving myself a hug and basically making room for my own happiness. This aspect goes hand in hand with the following…


Courtesies and Expressing Affection

In his article, "Common Characteristics Among Latin American Countries",Dr. Eudardo Morales states that “Despite larger cultural differences among various Latinx countries, commonalities pertaining to language and traditional value systems again do exist. Researchers have found various common characteristics and cultural values with the following terms: familismo, machismo, marianismo, simpatía, personalismo, respeto, and saludos.” By “saludos” he refers to greeting each other, reaching out to other individuals, letting them know that we care, not only acknowledging them but also addressing them properly according to social rules.

These courtesies are basically a given in Latin American countries, however in colder cultures this is always an extra. In a way, they help us come across as friendlier and warmer, which inevitably means that us Latin American people will take the lack of those courtesies as unfriendly, too stiff, or even offensive.


Me vale


“Me vale” is a Mexican expression, which means something like “ I couldn’t care less”, and there is a song title after it by 90s rock band Mana. Which surprisingly had a quite positive effect on me regarding body positivity - in a time when there was not so much attention given to this topic. The song became a hymn telling older people not to judge young ones based on their hair and clothing, to mind their own business, and to remember that internal beauty is the one that matters most.

I still love it to this day! As someone who likes to express myself through clothes and makeup, I often get dirty looks, giggles from people, and unsolicited comments, so “Me vale” brings me that peace and energy to brush all that off.

The term “valemadrismo” is a real thing in Mexico, which involves some degree of indifference and not caring. This can definitely have a negative connotation, and I am not advocating on favor of being reckless either. I just suggest a dose of valemadrismo against unsolicited opinions, and the fear of “what would people say about me if I do/wear/say… this”.


I once heard that what makes American people so good at competitions is that they are not scared of trying or to playing a fool out of themselves, and I really see that in Latin American people too. Not scared of starting a conversation with a stranger, complimenting someone, being courteous, and even effective.


This is how in Germany I met some of my colleagues who later became friends and fellow Latinas who welcomed me in their group. By not shying out of opportunities, which also helped me greatly to land my first job in this country.


The process of adapting to a new country is not linear. There are days when you can notice how much you have evolved and how everything begins to make sense. But, other days you can't help but wonder if your progress is sustainable.

Say it with memes - About integration
LuceBuona on integration

This year I was fortunate enough to meet a girl from Argentina while I was shopping. Thanks to her, I was invited to a group of Mexicans and Latin Americans in my town.

In a meeting with one of the Mexicans who has been here the longest, I asked her what advice she could give me for my life in Germany. She very sincerely told me "You never stop missing Mexico, you just learn to make your life here while doing your best to stay in touch and keep an eye on your loved ones." Needless to say, it wasn't what I expected her to say, but I got it. Finally, not being "neither from here nor from there" is the reality of migrants.


I prefer to see the glass half full and think that now these two nations are part of that complicated cultural and belonging weave that I have chosen.

 

References


**

Conci, Pilar. (n.d.). Why Are Latin Americans Happier than Their GDP Would Suggest? [Blog]. Ideas Matter - The Inter-American Development Bank. https://blogs.iadb.org/ideas-matter/en/latin-americans-happier-gdp-suggest/#:~:text=Social%20networks%20are%20strong%20in,pillar%20of%20Latin%20Americans'%20lives.


*** Morales, Eduardo. (2022, March 10). Common Characteristics Among Latin American Countries. San Francisco Bay Times. https://sfbaytimes.com/common-characteristics-among-latin-american-countries/


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Comments (5)

Felicidades!! Muy lindo todo , gracias!!!🥰🤗❤️👏

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Guest
May 15

Muchas gracias!! Que bonito !!!😇🥰

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Guest
May 15

Felicidades!!!!🥳

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LuceBuona
LuceBuona
Admin
Jul 27, 2023

I was in tears even before playing the video! Recently started watching Bluey and to be honest I am saviouring every episode, making sure not to rush through them. Luce as a kid would have love it too! Without all the sometimes extreme drama cartoons such as "Candy", "Peline" and the anime series called in Spanish "La Ranita Demetan" displayed. I also remember feeling sad and stressed after watching some of them...But Bluey is so not like that. I am sure this is appreciated by kids and parents equally. Cheers to all healthy, innocent and non invasive copying mechanisms! And thanks for sharing this one! 😍

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