This post is part of a series called Perspectives, written by Circles members. Perspectives will highlight the various experiences and identities of individuals from their unique worldview.
BY MARTA SONIA LONDOÑO MEJIA
Coming to the United States was a wonderful experience. I was living with the love of my life in the country of my dreams. Like any new experience, there was a feeling of euphoria when I arrived in Omaha. I felt excited, stimulated and enriched.
The Honeymoon Stage did not last long. I started feeling confused and alone, and realized that I missed my family, culture, food, language, weather, friends and all that I had built in Colombia. In my country, I was a professional and a leader who worked on important projects. In my country, I had a maid and I received so many services. For example, in the gas station, I received full service free of cost. In the United States, I was nobody. I needed to cook, clean the house, clean my car and fill the tank of my own car with gasoline.
I felt depressed, frustrated and even hostile to those around me. I disliked the culture, the language, the food and I wanted to go “back home.” It was a dark time in my life. The symptoms of my cultural shock were a feeling of sadness and loneliness, insomnia and an overwhelming sense of homesickness.
In the first year, I traveled frequently to Colombia looking for my culture and the love of my family. God and my husband were my support. But I knew I needed to make Omaha my new home. I started exercising and volunteering with non-profit organizations. Working with other Colombians, we started the Colombian association called COLNEB. We helped integrate Colombians in Omaha and worked with many programs for them. I studied every day to improve my English skills. I was becoming myself again.
Once I embraced the new culture, I could see everything in a new, yet realistic light. I felt comfortable, confident, and able to make decisions based on my own preferences. I no longer felt alone and isolated. I appreciated both the differences and similarities of my new culture. I started to feel at home.
I love being an American citizen and part of the Omaha community.