20 Struggles of Growing up as a 1st Generation American

By Martha Czernuszenko

Growing up with a different culture is DIFFERENT.

But, many stories and moments will resonate with me.

1. Craving Lunchables for lunch in elementary school and receiving raw herring and smoked salmon instead.

2. How do you pronounce your last name? *Completely butchers it* Yea sure, that’s close enough.

3. Making phone calls for parents and asking questions at a young age because your parents are afraid that they aren’t pronouncing the words right.

4. Being taken out of class to go to English as a Second Language class.

5. Calling your grandparents at 5 am to adjust to their time zone.

6. When your cousins point out your American accent in every sentence.

7. When you’re too American for your foreign family and too foreign for your American friends.

8. Bringing unusual items back from home. From your grandmother’s cake to crystal Christmas ornaments to a typewriter, almost everything has been in your suitcase.

8b. *Would you like to claim any goods over 50 US Dollars* Yes, I have about $200 dollars worth of chocolate.

9. When your parents go back and you are stuck in the United States with responsibilities, chores and Skype calls.

10. The glory of 3 hours on Skype over the weekends.

11. Being asked (forced) if you are going to college in your homeland.

12. People thinking your culture’s holiday is fake. For an example, in my culture, there is a day called Imieniny. It translates to Nameday and is a day where you celebrate your name and throw a party and you receive gifts. Since my birthday is in the summer and my Imieniny is in February, many students asked me if I made up this holiday so my mom could bring cake to school.

13. Envy rising when you are told your friends back home travel to London for under 30 US dollars. Or to Greece for the weekend. Or to Germany for the day.

14. Weird Dinner Times. 2 pm = Dinner time.

15. Random strangers asking you for directions and you have no idea since you haven’t been back since last summer.

16. Nine hour layovers, lost luggage, extra flights, sleeping on literally the airport floor. You name it.

17. Jetlag. Enough said.

18. Not having your family over for Thanksgiving.

19. Really missing your grandparents. Faking a smile when people complain about theirs, yet you wish you could just see yours.

20.The price of plane tickets.