America For Beginners

Bringing American culture closer to new immigrants

[Interview] Cultural Assimilation in America: A Brazilian Perspective

I’ve been talking a lot about cultural assimilation of immigrants in the US.  I’ve been reading books, thinking about values, exploring differences between cultures, and, most importantly,  listening to people I can learn from.  Because there’s still nothing better than first-hand experience and real life cases. A while ago my friend Yulia shared her Russian perspective on American culture and the process of assimilation.  Today, I would like you to meet Thiago Costa, a Brazilian student who has been living in the US for two years.

Thiago. Cultural Assimilation in the USA. Brazil

Thiago is from Natal RN, northeast of Brazil. He studied Biology at Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and somehow ended up in Boston, MA.  I decided not to bug him too much and make this interview short and easy. And, by the way,  Thiago’s answers are just like him. Smart, concise, honest, and ironic when you least expect it. I’m sure that readers who know him personally will hear his voice while reading this interview.

  • Thiago, why did you choose America as your destination? Why not Europe, for example? 

I chose American because historically the USA is a country built by immigrants.

  • What was so attractive about American culture?

I think American culture is a mixture of the whole world’s culture. According to the TV, America is a place where you can make money easily and sometimes spend more than you’ve made.

  •  What was your assimilation process like?

At the beginning it was hard because I was in a different country without friends, without family, in a freezing place like Boston in the winter time. After six months I was thinking to go back to my country because I was still feeling uncomfortable, but for some reason I wanted to stay, so, I said to myself, hang in there and try to enjoy, I did it, and I am still here. lol

  •  Is the American Dream still alive?

Perhaps… I think if you work hard, things happen; you can gain advantage and transform your dream into reality. Trust in yourself.

  • Do you know any Brazilian people who became “Americanized”? Whatever that means.  In a good or a in a bad way?

I know some Brazilians that became “Americanized”.  They buy things now, which sometimes is useful [laughing]. I think this is a big problem here in the USA.  And I try to advise them saying, “you may not need that stuff”, “are you sure that you are going to use it?” Sometimes it works.

  • What advice would you give to new immigrants to the US?

Grab all the opportunities you can when you are here. Everything you can build is going to depend on you. Work and study hard and you will have great results.

 —

Thiago is one of the most lovable people I’ve ever met. Seriously, everyone LOVES this guy. Maybe the answer to the problem of assimilation is in personality? Maybe if you have a big heart and a head on your shoulders, you’ll be fine in any culture? What do you think?

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